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Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 16:35:19 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: Washington Rejects Call for Korean Peace/GreenLeft
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

Washington rejects call for Korean peace

By Eva Cheng, Green Left Weekly, #230, 8 May 1996

In early April, the US rejected North Korea’s call to replace its 43-year-old armistice— with North Korea and China— with a peace treaty. Days later, Washington renewed its 1951 security pact with Tokyo, which gives it continuing rights to maintain war facilities in Japan, vital to effective military intervention in the region. In March, it threatened to intervene in Beijing’s dispute with Taipei on Taiwanese independence, a threat backed by the swift arrival of two US warship groups in the Taiwan Strait.

Such moves are part of Washington’s consistent policy to oppose and undermine socialist transformations in Asia, a policy set in place through the 1950-53 Korean War.

Washington’s propaganda has it that Soviet-sponsored communist North Korea provoked the war (by crossing the 38th parallel), brought in China, and they together intensified the war and avoided peace. In fact, the Truman administration, the Syngman Rhee regime which it sponsored in South Korea and the accomplice Chiang Kai-shek regime in Taiwan were spoiling for a fight, a fact soon to be acknowledged by the official policy of rolling back communism.

Much of the truth about US policy and actions was exposed at the time by the US radical writer I.F. Stone in articles later collected in the book The Hidden History of the Korean War.

A popular government had immediately formed in Korea in 1945 following the abrupt end to Japan’s 35-year colonial rule, but Washington crushed it (against widespread rebellion), divided the country along the 38th parallel and militarily occupied the south for the three years to 1948. It passed formal power in the south to the hated Rhee regime in 1948. Soon after Rhee’s humiliating defeat in May 1950 legislative elections, war broke out.

The US overwhelmingly dominated the United Nations troops of 16 countries in Korea, commanding the forces, providing most of the troops and footing most of the bill.

But popular opposition against US domination persisted, drawing strength from the resistance movement which started under the Japanese occupation, and which formed the backbone of the guerilla units that were active throughout the country until the war. Tens of thousands of Korean resistance activists had fought in solidarity with Chinese communists in China since the 1920s.

It was in this context that Chinese communists lent a hand to their Korean comrades in October 1950. Chinese intervention was prompted also by a concern for the power facilities on the Korean side of the Yalu River, which generated important supply to its industries in Manchuria, and by the threats of the US commander, General Douglas MacArthur, to carry the war into China.

Genocidal bombing— with napalm, delayed fuse demolition bombs, chemical and biological weapons and deliberately induced flooding— was a feature of US tactics during the war, complemented by repeated mass executions by Rhee. Popular support to the communists reached such an extent that US troops had a policy of shooting anyone in white pyjamas— common dress worn by Koreans. Three million of them are estimated to have lost their lives during the war.

Peace talks first started in May 1951, but an armistice was not signed until July 1953.

The US did well from the Korean War and aftermath. Pro-US regimes were consolidated in both South Korea and Taiwan. Rearmament of the US (its military budget tripled after the war) and Japan (consolidated as a military ally through the 1951 security pact) was made much easier.

While war supplies and subsequent reconstruction of the south fuelled an economic boom for Japan and the west, extreme war damage was devastating to North Korea. China’s own urgent reconstruction tasks were undermined, and it was kept out of the United Nations.

The US is technically still at war with China and North Korea, 43 years after the armistice. It sees little reason to change a situation from which it has done so well.