Korean crisis: made in USA
The situation in the Korean peninsula is drawing our entire region into war. According to the United States government, the young North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is making unprovoked threats—including nuclear threat—against South Korea and the United States. The situation, however, is more complex than this: The crisis in that peninsula has a long and complex history and goes beyond the two Koreas. It’s made in the United States of America.
It is the Obama administration that has escalated military threats against North Korea, especially since Kim Jong-un came to power. South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, daughter of the South’s former military dictator Park Chung-hee, is also a strong opponent of the North and has effectively ruled out any negotiations by insisting that North Korea should disarm first. But Park is also constrained by strong public opinion—most South Koreans wish to avoid a confrontation with the North, and hope for a peaceful reunification of the country.
The US military has long cooperated with the South Korean government to prepare for war, conducting frequent joint military exercises and deploying major weapons in the South. There are around 28,000 US troops in the South and, in case of war, the United States would be in command of the South’s 500,000 troops. The United States withdrew its nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula in the early 1990s, but nuclear and other heavy munitions remain ready for use from ships, submarines and warplanes just off the coast.
In the past year, there have been signs that the United States and South Korea have started taking steps to fight an offensive war and occupy the North. In March 2012, combined US-South Korean forces carried out the largest amphibious landing operation exercise in 20 years, involving 9,000 US troops, 13 naval vessels, 52 amphibious armored vehicles, and 40 fighter jets and helicopters. Last year’s war games also included a computer-assisted simulation of a South invasion of the North. Then there was also the redeployment of US forces to the region under the US “pivot to Asia” program.
The Philippines has urged a “toning down of rhetoric” between North Korea and the United States. But instead of practicing what it preaches, the Philippine government is conducting joint military exercises with US troops. This is viewed by the North Korean government as a clear provocation. We are also concerned by the statement of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario that the Philippines is ready to help America in the event war erupts between that country and North Korea.
To stop the escalation of the crisis into a full-scale war, Partido Lakas ng Masa calls for the opening of direct political talks between North and South Korea as an urgent and necessary step. We urge the Philippine government to call for an immediate cessation of its ongoing joint military exercises with the US military.
Partido Lakas ng Masa,
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