By Richard Mellor
|US Embassy Seoul. Protestors against the Thaad Missile System June 2017|
South Korea’s recently elected president, Moon Jae-in, had better watch his back. In the US media he is frequently referred to as South Korea’s “left leaning” president and now he has been pushing for the US to allow South Korea to take control of its own military in the event of a war on the peninsula. Readers outside the US might not be fully aware that a national health system or state owned rail system is communism over here, or at least, a half step in that direction. Left leaning can become terrorist in a flash if Washington so desires it.
What is Moon thinking? He isn’t the president of a sovereign nation the silly man. His efforts could find himself in one of those Paul Wellstone, Patrice Lumumba, Salvadore Allende moments, or go the way of Guatemala’s Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán whose democratically elected government in Guatemala was overthrown by the US backed coup in 1953-54.
As many have pointed out, the US imposed division between North and South Korea we know as the 38th Parallel is not a border between two countries. The Korean War was not a war between countries any more than the Vietnam War was. These were civil wars in which the US took a side. In Vietnam the US backed a regime that could barely get elected by its own people as US imperialism wanted to replace French colonialism that the Vietnamese people drove out. In Korea, US capitalism wanted a foothold in the Korean Peninsula in order to hold back the Chinese revolution so it sided with the elements that were remnants of the brutal Japanese occupation of Korea from 1911 until 1945. With Japan occupied, Korea would be another foothold.
The US had complete control of the skies in Korea much like in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, other countries where carpet-bombing and napalm were favored methods of repelling resistance. Bruce Cumings describes it “…..the unhindered machinery of incendiary bombing was visited on the North for three years, yielding a wasteland and a surviving mole people who had learned to love the shelter of caves, mountains, tunnels……..a subterranean world that became the basis for reconstructing the country and a memento for building a fierce hatred through the ranks of the population.” (1)
The air superiority of US imperialism in its war against small colonial nations had devastating affects. Laos is another example, more mole people and the decimation of a centuries old culture in the face of massive carpet bombing. Laos? Where’s Laos?
The US has urged South Korea to take control of its military in the event of a war with the North. But that was when more right wing, pro-US elements were in power. They were more reliable stooges of US imperialism and as part of the beefing up of their military would be spending lots of cash with US defense contractors.
With Moon Jae in who has popular support it’s a different matter. It’s clear to any sensible person that the South Koreans must be terrified having the US with its finger on the trigger, especially given that the US has one of the most dysfunctional governments with an unpredictable moron at the helm. It is Koreans who will die by the millions if the US and the North resort to nuclear conflict and we should remember, the US wanted to use nuclear weapons on North Korea and China and actually used them on Japan. We are talking about capitalism in decay here------a wounded rat is a dangerous animal when it has nuclear weapons.
The Wall Street Journal points out that “Seoul’s first left leaning government in a decade, loath to be dragged by the U.S. into what it may see as an unnecessary conflict…” . Who could blame them? US capitalism, despite anti-government feeling being quite strong at home, gets a free pass as long as American lives are not lost to any great degree. That’s why drone warfare and other technology is so important, US workers wouldn’t be so passive I don’t think if we were dying in any significant number. Not having one’s own communities being blown to bits is a plus too. The burden of US capitalism’s numerous offensive ventures are being borne by a small number of families.
Many South Koreans feel somewhat humiliated and embarrassed that their military is under the control of a foreign power. The North Koreans often point to this claiming the South is but a puppet state of the US. They are not off the mark on that one. South Korea, Afghanistan even Japan when you think about it are puppet states of the most powerful capitalist regime on earth.
I was talking to a Korean friend the other day and he felt that there would be a chance of some stability if the US were out of the picture. It was his view that the US does not want stability in the region, it wants a united Korea under US control and other than that a state of permanent tension that requites its presence to "keep the peace". That the Chinese would not tolerate a united Korea under US control on its borders is understandable. The US has some 800 military installations in the world and troops in hundreds of countries making the world safe for international capital. Despite being the world’s most armed power with the ability to blow us all up, US imperialism is a weakened imperialism, threatened economically on all sides by Russia, India and especially the Chinese. With the present administration and this degenerate moron in the driver’s seat, it is slowly losing any credibility it once had.
A couple of us around this blog were talking today that perhaps the present situation of world capitalism can best be defined in two ways. One is from the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky who wrote in the Transition Program prior to WW2 that the bourgeoisie (the capitalist class) “….toboggans with closed eyes toward an economic and military catastrophe.” He was absolutely correct about that then and it is the situation they find themselves in now. Reading the paper today this crisis is everywhere, the potential for prolonged war between Iraq, Iran, and the Kurds, a crisis that will take on global proportions if Turkey’s 22 million Kurds enter the fray. Kenya could be on the verge of civil war. Catalonia declares independence form Spain, the Korean Peninsula, Japan changing its constitution and the traditional parties of the bourgeois collapsing in to irrelevance. On top of all this, the catastrophe of climate change brings one disaster after another to every corner of the earth and the pundits can still chatter on about the rising stock markets, profits and potential earnings for the future.
The other factor is the dismal failure of the leadership of the working class in the parties and trade unions of the world's workers' organizations. Trotsky also pointed this out, that the crisis of the working class is a crisis of leadership. That was correct when he wrote it and it’s correct today. The difference today is the presence of nuclear weapons. While this has delayed a major global nuclear conflict it has not eliminated its possibility. And the most powerful economic and military power in history has a degenerate in the top office and a completely dysfunctional government. If the time was ever ripe for the global working class to enter the stage it is now.
As far as the Korean peninsula is concerned, there is no military solution.
(1) The Korean War, A History Bruce Cumings p 239
See: The Bombs of Laos