North Korea, which has borders with Russia and China, is in Trump’s cross hairs and a US military attack risks a larger war. The US public is being given partial and inaccurate information and is largely uninformed about the country.
The rhetoric from the Trump administration threatening a military attack on North Korea comes at the end of a massive military exercise that included mock nuclear attacks by the United States and a mock assassination of the North Korean leader. The United States claims the exercises are because North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, but North Korea has offered to stop building such weapons if the United States stops their military exercises that regularly practice attacking their country. President Trump has refused, as did President Obama before him. In fact, both presidents have escalated their military exercises on North Korea.
The government of North Korea takes the threats seriously. Reportedly, they have ordered one-quarter of their population to leave the capital, Pyongyang.
Signs of a Trump Buildup to War Against North Korea
Threats against North Korea come after the Trump administration used the largest bomb in its arsenal, the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast), for the first time ever. Known as the “Mother Of All Bombs”, it weighs 21,715 pounds including a warhead that weighs 18,739 pounds. The Trump military bombed caves where ISIS troops were allegedly hiding on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The MOAB is a step toward more war escalation. It was never used before because of fear of civilian casualties from its massive explosion.
Before the MOAB was dropped there was an illegal military attack by the Trump administration on Syria, which sent a message to China, North Korea, Russia and Trump’s domestic opposition. Syria had not attacked or threatened the US and there was no evidence that Syria used chemical weapons in the Syrian war. The more we learn, the more it becomes evident the claim of a chemical attack by Assad is not credible. The UN had not approved the US attack; therefore, it violated international law.
The attack occurred while Chinese President Xi was meeting with Trump. It was not a coincidence that Trump told the Chinese President about the attack on Syria between bites of chocolate cake. He demonstrated how nonchalant he is about attacking another country. It was a warning to China and it’s ally, North Korea. And, to sharpen the message, Trump sent the USS Carl Vinson, a supercarrier, leading a group of battle ships toward North Korea while the Chinese President was in the United States.
Trump threatened on Twitter that the US would “properly deal with North Korea” if Beijing was unable to rein in its ally. Trump has vowed to take action if North Korea conducts more nuclear tests. Vice President Pence was in South Korea this weekend as part of a week-long Asian tour. No doubt North Korea is on his agenda for discussions. Trump’s threats seem to have boxed him into a corner: to remain credible if North Korea acts, so must he.
Trump has been escalating with North Korea not only with words, but also with actions. He put drones in place along the border and, despite growing protests, is putting in a THAAD missile defense system. THAAD is also opposed by China and may be opposed by the next South Korean government, which will be elected in May. Trump is rushing construction of the THAAD system before the South Korean election.
Even though North Korea is clear in what it wants – an end to US military mock attacks, a peace treaty for the Korean War and economic respect – the US has refused negotiations. China interceded to form an agreement in which the US would halt its war games and in return North Korea would stop its nuclear weapons development. President Trump refuses to communicate with North Korea except through threats. This was true for President Obama as well as President George W. Bush, who said the country was part of the axis of evil. All of these recent presidents have conducted mock attacks on North Korea and refused to talk to them.
These are perilous times not only because of Trump’s escalations and North Korea’s testing of missiles and nuclear weapons, but also because South Korea’s president, a US ally, was recently impeached and forced out of office. The next president is likely to want to reset relations between the two Koreas. This makes the time before the election, scheduled for May 9, especially perilous.
On top of that, increasing militarism in multiple parts of the world has brought Trump bi-partisan support. Democratic Party hawks and Republican neocons are both applauding his militarism. He has lost the support of his voting base, to which he described himself as an America First, non-interventionist. Tulsi Gabbard, who questioned the supposed intelligence on Assad using chemical weapons and opposed the Syrian attack, is being threatened by the DNC, including former DNC chair Howard Dean, a pretend peace candidate in an earlier incarnation. Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom she went out on a limb to support during the presidential primaries, has remained silent and has avoided being seen with her. He is more focused on a unity tour with corporate Democrat Tom Perez, the new DNC chair. Congress is not an anti-war ally so peace advocates must react quickly.
Disappointing Reaction from the Resistance Movement
While there have been some protests against the Syrian attack, there has been little reaction to the use of the MOAB and the threats to North Korea. The Syrian war threatens not only mass destruction and killing in Syria but also conflict with Russia. A war in North Korea would kill thousands and could risk a response against South Korea and Japan by North Korea as well as conflict with China and Russia. The worst-case scenario is widespread war, perhaps a World War III that includes the use of nuclear weapons.
Peace movements should be in the streets protesting the military escalations of Donald Trump and the risk of massive wars. Yet, the biggest protests of the weekend are focused on the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns. Are his taxes more important than global war?
The tax protests are obviously designed to support the partisan needs of the flailing Democratic Party, which is misdirecting activist energies to protest Trump and not to focus on critical issues that would expose the Democrat’s agenda. The non-profits organizing the rallies are closely allied with the Democratic Party. Their leadership must be rejected.
Massachusetts Peace Action focused its protest on getting Trump to release his tax returns. Really? Should that be the priority of a peace group when the country is on the brink of war? Thankfully, they also focused on the increased budget for the Pentagon, and mentioned in passing Syria and North Korea, but their main focus was on Trump’s taxes. Should this group call themselves a peace group? Why not tell the truth and say they are a front for the Democratic Party?
This is the kind of distraction the Democratic Party likes to create when movements are challenging the system in which the Wall Street, pro-war Democratic Party is complicit. They use their allied non-profits to send the movement off-track, misleading activists to waste their time helping the Democratic Party, which is no friend of peace, a fair economy or environmental protection. We also see this mis-leadership in their campaigns to protect the failed Affordable Care Act, written by and for the insurance industry. In addition, these Democratic Party allied groups have appropriated the word “resist” and claim one measure of resistance is how Democrats do in off-year elections – folks electing Democrats is not resistance. Don’t fall for it.
Time for a Renewed and Independent Peace Movement
The current conflict in North Korea follows more than 100 years of aggression by the United States against the Korea. When this history is examined, it becomes evident that the US is the real aggressor in the Asia Pacific and Trump’s threats are a continuation of a long-term US policy.
This is a time for a renewed and independent peace movement. Two positive steps we are supporting are the United Antiwar Coalitions’ conference, “Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad: Building a Movement Against War, Injustice & Repression!” being held this June. Also, the #No54BillionForWar campaign, which was launched on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, calling for our dollars not to be spent on war but to be spent on human needs such as education and health care. Finally, the Black Alliance for Peace was also launched last week. Co-founder Ajamu Baraka describes the focus as “opposing both the U.S. global military agenda as well as the war and repression being waged on black and brown communities domestically.”
The movement must be clear at this critical moment and be saying no to war in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa and North Korea – where Trump has threatened or attacked. We must be urging a positive working relationship with Russia and China and challenging the bi-partisans in Washington, DC who are blocking such relationships. The movement should oppose the partisan “Russia did it” campaign of the Democratic Party and focus on the reality that the US has a bi-partisan problem of two parties controlled by Wall Street and war.
Finally, we must remember that Trump is the symptom of a much larger problem, a plutocratic government, which must be challenged by an independent movement of movements that has a clear positive agenda and focuses its resources strategically. These are dangerous times. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted. It is critical that we expose the truth and organize effective resistance in our communities.