At the beginning of April, US President Trump made the startling announcement that “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” arrogantly adding, “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
In the wake of that announcement, this week the USS Carl Vinson carrier group was announced to be travelling to Korea, later revealed to be untrue, a bit of fake news to bolster Trump’s declaration on 12 April that the US is “sending an armada” to join in with the regular provocative military excersises conducted on the Peninsula. Around 30,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea, with a further 50,000 in Japan and 3,000 in Guam.
US imperialism is known for being staunchly against any nation not firmly under its economic or military control to be capable of defending itself, and Korea is perhaps the most frustrating example of an independent nation.
Unlike Iran, whose nuclear program was set back by the US-Israeli Stuxnet virus (the virus destroyed or damaged Iranian equipment, primarily at the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, before an agreement was reached to reduce sanctions in return for Iran scaling-back its nuclear programme), Korea has forged ahead with its nuclear programme, recognising it as a necessary tool to secure their independence from US imperialist forces.
It is vitally important that we consider the present situation in historical context. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was born in struggle against Japanese imperialism, which was succeeded, on half of the Korean Peninsula, by US imperialism at the end of World War 2. During Japanese occupation some 5 million Koreans were conscripted into forced labour, with 400,000 dying as a result, and around 200,000 Korean women and children were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military. The Korean language was suppressed, and Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese surnames, while tens of thousands of cultural artifacts were destroyed or stolen.
After the defeat of Japanese imperialism, with no small part played by Korean and Chinese communist guerillas, the US and their nationalist Korean pawns feared the establishment of a socialist government on the entire peninsula, and undertook the suppression and massacre of Korean communists in the south.
“President Syngman Rhee and his clique can maintain their limited authority in Seoul and in larger cities only through a regime of military and police terror and thanks only to American aid. The South Korean state system, which from the very beginning has stood on weak feet, has to resort to open totalitarian means.”
- Swiss newspaper, Die Tat, June 26, 1950
Following the unilateral declaration of the Republic of Korea in the US-occupied south, revolts and uprisings occurred across the territory. In total, some 100,000 were killed, while compradors from the Japanese occupation largely retained their elite status and jobs (53% of the police in the south of Korea had previously served the Japanese occupying forces). With no peaceful solution in sight, the buildup of US troops in the occupied south, and the fascist crackdown by dictator-puppet Syngman Rhee, war was inevitable.
Although keen to commit genocide on the entire population of northern Korea with nuclear weapons, US imperialism somehow confined itself to undertaking this task via conventional warfare, dropping 635,000 tons of bombs on the north of Korea, including 32,557 tons of napalm. These bombs, more than the 503,000 tons of bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theatre of World War II, destroying the majority of the cities in the north and killing around 4 million Koreans. Imperialist forces on the ground displayed equal inhumanity, carrying out orders to kill all civilians on sight. Despite these losses the Korean people bravely fought, with the aid of the Chinese and Soviets, the imperialist forces to a standstill, signing an armistice in 1953.
Despite the American assertion that it would take 100 years to rebuild Korea, the work was completed in 10. In fact, while the streets were still in flames, and the armistice being signed, an exhibition showing the general plan of restoration of Pyongyang was held at the Moranbong Underground Theater. More recently, the highway constructed south from Pyongyang towards Seoul was named Reunification Highway.
Red Youth yearns for a world free from nuclear weapons, and indeed all weapons and warfare, but we recognise the reality of the world today makes that an impossibility. We refuse to equate the violence of the oppressor with the violence of the oppressed. While the US and other imperialist countries maintain stockpiles of thousands of nuclear warheads, and allows client states such as Israel to flout the non-proliferation treaty, it is sheer hypocrisy and imperialist warmongering to criticise the DPRK for developing a nuclear deterrent.
The US has invaded, intervened via mercenaries and espionage, and undertaken military operations in dozens upon dozens of countries since the end of WWII, while the DPRK has never committed a single act of aggression against another country. The US maintains troops and command structures across every continent save Antarctica.
As the global crisis of capitalism deepens the forces of imperialism become ever-more rabid and dangerous. It cannot therefore be discounted that a war could be deliberately sparked off very soon by US imperialism through an attack on the DPRK, leading China and perhaps also Russia to come to the DPRK’s defence.
Although anti-war forces can and must now go into overdrive to try to prevent this war, as indeed the war that is threatening with Russia over Syria, it must be realised that the threat of wars of various kinds will continue to hang over humanity for as long as imperialism continues to exist. Imperialism is merely the highest form of capitalism, so the threat continues as long as the world clings to the capitalist mode of production which is now outlived its usefulness and has become a real danger to the very future of humanity. The only possible replacement for capitalism is planned economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat where meeting people’s material, cultural and spiritual needs is the driver of production rather than the quest for profit as at present.
This requires the proletariat to fight to overthrow capitalism and to establish its own class rule, which can only succeed if it is led by an effective communist party. In imperialist countries, however, the bourgeois ruling class has succeeded in besmirching the name of communism with its incessant and hysterical anti-communist propaganda and lies, to such an extent that the disenchanted masses, rather than turning to communism, are for the moment more inclined to gravitate towards far right parties or terrorist outfits, which are good at screaming abuse on behalf of “the common man” but are committed to preserving capitalism, not overthrowing it, and therefore offer no relief. A large responsibility for this parlous state of affairs lies at the door of social democracy, the ideology that devotes itself to improving the conditions of the workers within capitalism and inappropriately calls itself ‘socialist’. Social-democratic organisations, such as the pre-Blair Labour Party (post-Blair it has ceased to be even social-democratic), have proved themselves unable to deliver on their impossible promises, yet it is socialism rather than social democracy which gets the blame. The corrosive influence of social democracy continues to pervade and emasculate the working class movement, presented as it is in different guises by Trotskyite and revisionist organisations.
Anybody who is serious about working effectively to end forever the curse of war needs to join the fight to overthrow capitalism, which requires at this moment in time a life and death struggle to build a party of the proletariat capable of acting as the general staff of the proletarian masses as they fight to fulfil their destiny of liberating humanity from hunger, destitution and war and preserving the planet for future generations. The CPGB-ML is working hard to try to become such a party and invites all those it is able to convince to dedicate their lives to this most noble cause.