Korea: A Settlement? Very Possible, Highly Unlikely, But—

I recently published a (rather shorter) column on Korea that contains a peace proposal, or at least a comprehensive set of points for negotiation, for a peaceful settlement.  You may or may not have seen it.  While it is not one that the “we must preserve the Military-Industrial-Complex Trumpites” could accept (at least for now), it is one that left-wing organizations might put on the table, in addition to the current position that a Trumpite nuclear war must be prevented (as true as that is).  It is summarized in the fourth para. from the bottom of the column. The major points are a) that for the DPRK having the bomb provides security against U.S. aggression which they simply will not give up, b) that a peace treaty is essential for them too, and in return for that, an unusually tight inspection regimen, including (unlike for Iran) of military facilities, could be demanded. The idea here is to assure the safety of the people of Korea—North and South—guaranteed by a formal peace treaty with sane superpower oversight, and spare everyone a possible nuclear confrontation.

Dean Rusk, Secretary of State (1961-1969).
North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons and its right to maintain them, indefinitely. After all, if the three states that have not signed the Nucelar Non-Proliferation Treaty , India, Pakistan, and Israel, can have them, why not North Korea? The excuses for India and Pakistan are primarily each other, for Israel, its size and its geographical isolation. For North Korea, the reason is a rather different one. Rather, it is several reasons. Let me count (some of) them: North Korea (1950-53), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Vietnam (1954), Hungary (attempted, 1956), Brazil (1964), the Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Afghanistan, (1978-86), Nicaragua (partial, 1980s), the Soviet Union (which, despite having nuclear weapons, succumbed to the 75 Years War Against the Soviet Union, 1917-1992), Iraq (2003), Cuba (since 1961, unsuccessful, but still trying), (Iran, presently, still trying), Libya (2012), Venezuela (2017: http://www.globalresearch.ca/large-scale-manoeuvres-encircling-venezuela/5607619 ). And so on and so forth.
This is a partial list of countries in which the U.S. has attempted, often but not always with success, what is politely called “regime change.” The interventions have ranged from the frank overthrow of a freely elected government (Iran, 1953), to direct military invasion of a supposedly “threatening” military dictatorship which, however, presented no threat to the United States other than what was put out in the government propaganda of the time (Iraq, 2003).

It happens that it was the U.S. that created the two Koreas. As World War II was coming to a close, the Soviet Union was poised to invade Japan and its then colonial possession, Korea, on August 8, 1945. One motivation for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) was to foreclose the possibility that the Red Army would establish a foothold on Japanese territory (the first landings were to be on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido) and would quickly take over the whole of the Korean Peninsula.
With the forestalling of the Soviet invasion, U.S. personnel quickly were moved to Korea. Before they arrived in September, in Washington a young U.S. colonel, one Dean Rusk, looked at a map and decided that a line dividing Korea in two, one a “Soviet” zone, and the other a “U.S.” zone, would a) be a good idea, and b) would be [arbitrarily] drawn at the 38th parallel. (With this sort of action, Dean Rusk, an army colonel at the time, was obviously preparing for his much bigger role in preparing and perpetuating the War on Viet Nam.)
Although the first North Korean leader, Kim il Sung, and his parents, had been leading anti-Japanese guerilla forces since the Japanese conquest of Manchuria in 1932, and was widely respected (revered by some) throughout Korea, the U.S. set-up a pro-U.S. government under the former exile, the pro-U.S. Syngman Rhee. Using many former Korean Japanese collaborators, they spent much of their time rooting out, and in many cases killing, supporters of Kim il-Sung residing in the South.
North Korea has previously negotiated with the United States and at one time was an adherent to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It pulled out in 2003 because, bottom line, despite what was being said in Washington at the time, it simply did not trust President George W. Bush. (And, after “Iraq,” why would any potential adversary?) Regardless of what did or did not happen between North Korea and the United states during the Obama Administration , the former clearly now does not trust the U.S. any more than it could hoist the whole country onto one of its Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (or perhaps, if they really have one, an ICBM) and send the whole country into outer space.

It is very important to note that there has never been a peace treaty, either between North and South Korea nor between the North and the United States following the conclusion of the armistice that ended the fighting in 1953. The North has been asking for such a treaty for many years, as have many elements in South Korea. Under neither Democratic nor Republican Presidents has the U.S. ever shown any inclination to negotiate one. And so, as far as the North Koreans are concerned, the number one objective for the U.S. has been the overthrow of their government, with the likely “unification” (and man, would that be a bloody affair) under South Korean rule. That of course would put a close diplomatic, commercial and military ally of the U.S. on both the Chinese and Russian borders.

Kim inspecting missile mockups with his staff.

As I said at the beginning of this column, the North Koreans are never going to give up their nuclear weapons. Those weapons are the only guarantee they have against U.S.-sponsored “regime change” and the complete loss of their hard-earned sovereignty. (For obvious reasons, as is well known, neither the Chinese not the Russians want that to happen either.) Nevertheless, the outlines of a deal are on the table. 1. A peace treaty is negotiated. (In early 2016, North Korea did say that in return for a peace treaty, it would end nuclear testing. And that had to have been an opening negotiating position.) 2. Relations between North Korea and South Korea and the United States are normalized. 3. All sanctions are lifted. 4. North Korea re-joins the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, agrees to a freeze on its ballistic missile development program, and subjects itself to regular International Atomic Energy Agency inspections (like Iran), including [perhaps] its military facilities (unlike Iran).

There are give-ups on both sides here [despite the fact that Korea holds the high ground morally speaking and did not create this insufferable situation, product of US attempts at regional and global domination), but such a resolution would be very beneficial to the North as well as to Russia and China. There has been much talk about the impending collapse of the NK government — for years. It has not happened. But true peace would give it the opportunity to massively develop the nation economically. There is much talk about how poor and backward it is (which is false, as testified by numerous impartial observers and the photographic record.) Nevertheless, North Korea has been able to create what must be a fairly large group of scientists and engineers, for its nuclear programs, peaceful and military. A settlement would allow the turning of those human resources towards productive pursuits, for all.
Finally, would the U.S. agree to such a proposal? Not a chance, especially under Trump. Since North Korea would, and could, never agree to de-nuclearization, such a deal would be an almost impossible sell politically for any U.S. President, but especially Trump. But more than that, the U.S. needs the “North Korean threat” to justify all sorts of things, military and commercial, starting with the maintenance of Permanent War, and the maintenance of a ready-made, advanced strategic platform for waging war on Washington’s real targets, China and Russia, which border North Korea. In a while, the short-term threats from both sides will quiet down. (Yes, Trump will get bored with this one and turn his attention elsewhere where he can mouth off.) But, because of the inherent U.S. resistance to it, any permanent, peaceful resolution of an unstable situation that has been in place for over 60 years is a long way off. This idiotic and criminal posture still very much corresponds to the Neocon playbook, a doctrine suited to the needs of an imperialist ruling class in decline still attempting in a frantic mode to preserve its enormous privileges. Trump may be the more brutal and coarser implementer of these doctrines, but after all it was Obama who started the infamous “pivot to Asia”. the new dagger aimed at Beijing.
DESPITE THE ABOVE, if South Korea and its ruling class, with the country’s capital within massive artillery (not nuclear) range of the North, finally gets tired of being led around by the nose by the U.S. (and most especially by its current President) on the matter of relationships with the North and decides to go off and negotiate its own peace treaty, well then…

Important references:
1. Bruce Cumings, “A Murderous History of Korea,” London Review of Books, May 18, 2017,https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n10/bruce-cumings/a-murderous-history-of-korea?utm .
2. Tim Shorrock, “Diplomacy With North Korea Has Worked Before, and Can Work Again,”The Nation, Sept. 5, 2017, https://www.thenation.com/article/diplomacy-with-north-korea-has-worked-before-and-can-work-again/
3. Darrell Prince, “North Korea situation Sept 3 2017: You catch more flies with honey, than vinegar,”http://thecallforunity.org/north-korea-situtation-sept-3-2017/.
4. Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun. A Modern History (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997).





Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books.  In addition to his position on The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed News.com; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. Furthermore, he is an occasional contributor to BuzzFlash Commentary Headlines and The Harder Stuff.  Dr. Jonas’ latest book is Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach, Brewster, NY: Punto Press Publishing, (Brewster, NY, 2016, available on Kindle from Amazon, and also in hardcover from Amazon.

His most recent book on US politics is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel (Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY), and available on Amazon.

STEVEN JONAS—There are give-ups on both sides here [despite the fact that Korea holds the high ground morally speaking and did not create this insufferable situation, product of US attempts at regional and global domination), but such a resolution would be very beneficial to the North as well as to Russia and China. 


^0Americans are the most over-entertained, uninformed people on the planet.

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THE BULLET—“Whoever expects a ‘pure’ social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is,” wrote Lenin in 1916 about the Easter Rising. Today, we are not facing a revolution, but his words nevertheless apply to the Catalan reality. Faced with the imperfections of the Catalan independence movement, the Left has two options: opt for a passive policy that will involuntarily exacerbate the movement’s deficiencies, or follow an active policy that intervenes in reality and pushes the process in a more progressive direction.

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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 

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