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El Militante
U.S. hands off Korea!
No to sanctions, acts of piracy! Withdraw all U.S. troops and weapons!
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SWP candidates in California protest U.S. threats against north Korea
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 70/No. 40October 23, 2006


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U.S. hands off Korea!
No to sanctions, acts of piracy!
Withdraw all U.S. troops and weapons!
(lead article)
Reuters/Lee Jin-Man
F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets fill deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln March 30 during U.S. military exercises in south Korean waters near city of Ulsan.

The following statement by the National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party was released October 11 by the party’s national secretary, Jack Barnes.

The Socialist Workers Party calls on working people in the United States and throughout the world to oppose the rapidly accelerating threats against north Korea by the U.S. rulers and their “coalition of the willing,” a coalition stretching from Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing, to Moscow and capitals across Europe. The U.S. government and its allies are already tightening sanctions against north Korea and choking off its access to credit and currency. They are pressing the United Nations Security Council to legitimize boarding north Korean ships to “inspect” and “interdict” imports and exports and lay the basis for military action. [See news article]


With some 10,000 weapons in its nuclear arsenal and nuclear-armed warships in the Pacific, it is Washington that poses the threat of nuclear annihilation to the people of Asia and the world. It is the U.S. government, not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), that has entered the fifth year of its war in Afghanistan and is nearing its fourth year of combat in Iraq.

And it is Washington and its allies who for half a decade, through the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, have imposed their “right” to board ships and seize cargo—to carry out piracy on the high seas—against any country the imperialist rulers label a “rogue nation.” Washington’s demand for “inspection” of all cargo in or out of north Korea—a de facto naval blockade, an act of war by any standard—ups the ante on the danger of military strikes against the DPRK on land as well.

It is under this same banner of “nuclear nonproliferation” that Washington joins with its allies in Europe and Asia to seek to prevent semicolonial countries from developing the energy sources needed to expand electrification to develop modern industry, farming, and education and culture. The major capitalist powers arrogantly insist that they, and only they, will decide which governments can or cannot develop large-scale nuclear energy without being reliant on other nations for nuclear fuel. Today Korea is in imperialism’s sights. Tomorrow, Iran. The next day it will be others.  
Washington carves up Korea
In August 1945 Washington called attention to its new position as the world’s dominant imperialist power by unleashing nuclear weapons—for the first and, so far, only time in history—against the people of Japan. Only weeks later, with the complicity of the Stalinist regime in Moscow and support from Stalinist parties around the globe, the U.S. rulers, in flagrant disregard for Korea’s national sovereignty, carved the country in two. In the northern half the workers and farmers deepened the revolutionary mobilizations that had swept the entire peninsula at the end of World War II, carrying out a radical land reform, expropriating the capitalists and landlords, and establishing a workers state.

In 1950 Washington invaded north Korea under the United Nations flag in an effort to destroy the DPRK and deal blows to the unfolding revolution in China. Not only did the U.S. government threaten the use of nuclear weapons during the Korean War, it murderously flattened—literally flat tened—the north and set it ablaze through bombardment. By 1953, however, the U.S.-led invaders had been pushed back to Korea’s 38th parallel by the combined forces of Korean and Chinese troops, dealing U.S. imperialism its first military defeat in history.

Ever since then Washington has deployed tens of thousands of U.S. troops and armaments on south Korean soil. It has carried out annual “war games” with the capitalist regime in Seoul. It has imposed imperialist diplomatic isolation on the DPRK. It has wielded economic and currency sanctions—the inhuman weapons of food, fuel, and energy—to starve and freeze the toilers in the north. And it has encouraged the strategic rearmament of Japan.

All these measures and others are a constant reminder of U.S. finance capital’s unremitting military threats against Korean workers and farmers in both halves of that partitioned country. To this day Washington maintains a massive conventional and strategic nuclear arsenal in and around the Korean peninsula.  
Using Moscow, Beijing muscle
It is in face of this forcible division of Korea by imperialism, and its unrelenting economic and military pressure, that the DPRK has asserted the right to take the military steps it deems necessary to defend itself. The aim of Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul in the so-called six-party “negotiations” in recent years has been to bring to bear the muscle of Moscow and especially Beijing—the DPRK’s largest source of trade and economic aid—to compel Pyongyang to unilaterally abandon its nuclear research, enrichment, and testing programs while the U.S. atomic arsenal, the world’s largest, remains intact. And while plans for nuclear-powered energy spread throughout the world, from Japan and India to Finland, Russia, and the United States itself.

In response to the DPRK’s announcement October 8 that it had carried out a nuclear weapons test, the Chinese government’s ambassador to the United Nations agreed that “there have to be punitive actions” against north Korea. Both Beijing and Moscow have already made clear they will support stiffer sanctions. It remains to be seen, however, whether this treachery will yet go so far as to bow to Washington’s demand that such punishment of the Korean people also fall under Chapter VII of the United Nations charter, which makes mandatory sanctions “legally” enforceable by imperialist-organized troops under UN banners. (These are the same blue banners that for more than half a century have flown over imperialist occupation forces in south Korea and the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ.)  
A matter of sovereignty
As a simple matter of national sovereignty, working people in the United States and elsewhere have a fundamental class interest in supporting the DPRK’s right to self-defense. At the same time, the Socialist Workers Party stands in solidarity with the DPRK’s repeated calls for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula—and of the entire Pacific and Asia. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and armaments from Korean land and waters and the lifting of all economic sanctions.

The imperialist rulers attack with particular ferocity those who refuse to bow to their dictates. Just as they will not forget or forgive the defeat handed them by the Korean people more than half a century ago, they have also never forgiven the workers and farmers of Cuba for making the first socialist revolution in the Americas.

The Cuban people and their communist leadership continue to set a revolutionary internationalist example for toilers worldwide in linking the defense of their own sovereignty and socialist conquests at home to the advance of popular struggles in other countries. As president Fidel Castro explained—in a December 1988 speech honoring Cuban internationalist volunteers who had joined Angolan fighters in defeating apartheid South Africa’s invading forces—“Whoever is incapable of fighting for others will never be capable of fighting for himself. And the heroism shown by our forces, by our people in other lands, faraway lands, must also serve to let the imperialists know what awaits them if one day they force us to fight on this land here.”

In a more recent speech, in November 2005, Castro explained why Cuba depends for its revolutionary defense on the armed readiness and political consciousness of Cuban working people, not on chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. “We have never considered producing nuclear weapons, because we don’t need them,” the Cuban president explained. “Even if they were accessible, how much would they cost and what sense would it make producing a nuclear weapon with an enemy that has thousands of nuclear weapons?…

“We have a different type of nuclear weapon: it’s our ideas,” Castro said—Cuba’s revolutionary ideas and living example. “We possess a weapon as powerful as nuclear power, and it is the magnitude of the justice for which we are struggling…. That is why we have never even considered producing them, nor have we ever considered seeking biological weapons. What for?”

The Cuban government has taken the proletarian political high ground—and thus the moral high ground—against the rapacious U.S. ruling families. It has issued the call for a nonnuclear Caribbean, exposing the reality that it is U.S. imperialism that poses a danger to the peoples of the Americas and to humanity as a whole.

Like Washington’s unending bipartisan economic warfare and military pressure against Cuba, like its mounting threats against Iran, the escalating threats by the imperialist parties today against the DPRK are one front in what the U.S. rulers call a “long war.” This decades-long conflict has only begun with their bloody aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan, and their open support of Tel Aviv’s war against Lebanon.

In 1950 Socialist Workers Party national secretary James P. Cannon sent an open letter to Democratic U.S. president Harry Truman condemning Washington’s brutal assault on the Korean people’s struggle for national sovereignty and unification. SWP members at that time—in factories, on street corners, high school and college campuses, and in working-class districts across the country—championed the demand: “Withdraw all U.S. troops so the Korean people can have full freedom to work out their destiny in their own way.”

To that demand, we add today: No to sanctions! No to piracy against north Korean ships! Remove all U.S. weapons from the Korean peninsula! Denuclearize the Pacific and Asia!

Korea is one!
Related articles:
Socialist Workers Party, Young Socialists leaders: Support reunification of Korea!
Washington demands ‘enforceable’ sanctions against north Korea

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