Tag Archives: Korea

North Korea’s been Strangled Between Two Superpowers for 70 Years – Can You Blame The “Rocket Man” for his antics?

9 Mar

By Mike McGee

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 15, 2021

The United States was in Afghanistan for good reasons, and now it has withdrawn for good reasons. Now that the United States has restored the much disliked sovereignty of Afghanistan by withdrawing all its troops and direct political influence, we need to take a closer look at Korea. Our military occupation has ceased to be meaningful now, in 2021. Maybe we need to pull out like we did in Afghanistan and let the Koreas work things out on their own.

=================================================

China and the United States, for different reasons, have conspired together since maybe 1949 to keep North Korea poor and isolated. The historic reasons were perhaps adequate 70 years ago, even 40 years ago. South Korea was able to establish itself as a first-world economic power using Capitalistic means. That’s a good thing.

The lack of examination of the need for near total strangulation means that this ancient history has led in a straight line to today. And history does not create the same outcome as it did back in 1949. We need to pay attention to what’s going on now. For the last 30 or more years the American rationale for continuing to blockade and strangle North Korea has faded from year to year. Our government has ignored these changes and has not acted. This includes Clinton, the Bushes, Obama and Hilary Clinton. All have been in denial and turned the other way.

The most catastrophic current consequence of the imposed isolation and blockades are the impoverishing and weakening of the 25,000,000 civilian citizens of North Korea. North Korean defectors who make it across the border to South Korea are almost always underweight and undernourished. Many are infected with dozens of parasitic worms, some as long as 11 inches. These type worms were eradicated in South Korea in the 1970’s. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/world/asia/north-korean-defector-parasitic-worms.html

How are China and the United States not complicit in maintaining the horrible conditions of the civilian population of North Korea for over 70 years, including the North Korean famine in the 1990’s that claimed the lives of more than a million civilians? China and the United States are the architects of poverty, famine and death in their dance with history involving Korea. Writing this makes me feel nauseous and sorrowful. This is a wrong that needs to be righted, now. And perhaps it will be.

The coming together of the Communist and Capitalist Germanies didn’t wreck things. The Berlin Wall turned out to be a statement with no substance. Our leaders paid more attention to ending that separation because it involved Europeans, with whom we have an affinity.

This disparity demonstrates that few in the US really care about North Korean citizens since they are alien to us. So, we’ve kept the status quo for 70 years without paying attention. Let’s say that North and South Korea came together as a single country. There would be as little hysteria as the Germanies. Practically the only consequence to the West would be that the unified “Korea” could, if negotiations fail, become a nuclear state. I doubt that this combined nation would do the United States harm, especially since we would have stepped out of their internal affairs and removed barriers to trade, and we would still want their exports.

Given the right to govern their own affairs, the two Koreas also have a right to maintain two separate sovereign states. The removal of US troops and sanctions in this scenario will have a salutary effect on the United States. Thereafter we cannot be rightfully blamed for what happens on the Korean Peninsula, and so there would be no reason to aim nuclear missiles at the United States.

The isolation of North Korea by China is largely driven by their fear of illegal immigrants. If the northern border was more open, huge numbers of North Koreans would cross into China to live a better life. The Chinese have had a very effective “border wall” in place for 70 years, and anyone who gets across is subject to being shot. The Chinese don’t want any Koreans to enter their country at all. They’ve had in place for 70 years the border wall that Trump only dreamed of.

For the United States, the isolation of North Korea is likely more based on ennui and lack of attention than anything else. This lack of interest is covertly racist, in that we have almost entirely turned the other way on what we do, in the face of starvation and famine of Asian people we don’t understand.

Even South Korea has made a series of overtures to North Korea for the two nations to be joined or to cooperate. Until now the US wouldn’t hear of it. We have our troops stationed at the 38th Parallel to prevent any cross-border contamination, though we don’t shoot Koreans who make it across this red line. Our vice president snubbed the lead North Korean delegate at the Olympics.

To be more specific, what would happen if the United States unilaterally withdrew all our troops from the Korean peninsula, and dropped all sanctions and blockades against North Korea and encouraged others to do the same; and stopped meddling in the internal affairs of the Koreas? No one can say, yet one can imagine.

(N.B., of course we would interfere with the international buying and selling of nuclear arms or parts by any party on the Korean Peninsula!)

The first consequence would be that Kim Jong Un would really have no one to complain about or threaten with those nuclear weapons. He’s said he might give up his nuclear arsenal if the US threat is withdrawn (those nukes are very expensive to build and maintain!).

China would likely increase trade with North Korea, yet still maintain their border wall. With better economic conditions and normalized trade, the Chinese border wall will likely no longer be a big issue. China is entitled to keep out illegal immigrants but has no greater right than us to starve the country they may be coming from.

It’s likely that regardless of the new round of talks, after a lot of posturing over a period of years the two Koreas would find a way to reunite their countries, perhaps under some sort of semi-socialist political management. That’s the way it went in Germany. Why not with the Koreas? They are sovereign nations, so they don’t have to, though.

The United States has for many decades kept up sanctions and blockades against North Korea. The only tangible result has been that many North Korean civilians live at a starvation level. Studies show that long-term sanctions rarely work in any event. There is only shame on us and our partners for continuing to promote poverty and poor health when such sanctions are explicitly not working and not justified.

Removing the US military presence, and the economic sanctions and blockades, will among other things have the effect of stopping the United States from being a conspirator in the starvation and lack of access to medical and agricultural advances among the 25,000,000 citizens of North Korea. Sometimes I feel like we see what the US is doing there only as a personal duel between our leaders and Kim Jong Un. We tend to forget about the 25,000,000 individuals who live in the worst possible conditions in North Korea, mostly because of what we are unconsciously doing.

I am a black belt in Korean Tae kwon do. My teaching masters made me tough as nails. The South Korean grand masters were more tough than you can imagine. North or South, the Korean character is to take what is thrown at you and throw it back, harder. The average Korean, North or South, has more strength and determination than you can imagine. The United States should stop trying to keep its boot on the neck of the Korean Peninsula. It hasn’t worked up to now and will never work. Let the Koreans decide their own fate. They will do a good job of doing so.

From http://www.mcgeepost.com Copyright © 2018 by Michael H. McGee. All commercial rights reserved. Non-commercial or news and commentary site re-use or re-posting is encouraged. Please feel free to share all or part, hopefully with attribution.

Lagniappe. This stuff is not a part of the blog and so read it only for your amusement. It is quite speculative and imaginative and is not researched at all.

Kim Jong Un with his Hollywood-style antics has done a good job of waking up the US policy makers from their 40-year sleep. I’ll bet he has almost run out of “nuclear weapons”. The underground explosions that were set off were likely black-market bombs or even groups of suitcase bombs, all of which were bought up over the years to use for a display of forceful ability. It’s likely that none could have ever fit on a missile. And nobody’s ever said for certain that North Korea has the ability to manufacture plutonium. There is only speculation that this is so.

Kim Jong Un knows that it will lose any nuclear exchange, so his threats are no more than paper tigers. The drama of the hermit kingdom affecting world history has been cleverly scripted by North Korea, with the intention of waking up sleeping policy-makers in the US and China. It does not seem to have worked.

If they were fully awake, our US policy-makers would be aware that North Korea has not been a real threat for many years. Kim Jong Un and his ensemble acting company gets good reviews for bringing a serious problem to the light of day.

Some National Borders May Not Mean Much

7 Mar

ukraine-crimea-map

By Mike McGee March 7, 2015

Recently a family member gave me a lot of information about why national borders are not automatically entitled to respect. His most salient point was that throughout history wars have been the automatic outcome of one country expressing an undue interest in the borders of another country. Sure, there are some national borders which are worth fighting for. Yet in many situations the automatic call to war is an outdated notion, and a shift in borders can be the correct way to proceed, particularly with more recently established borders. Continue reading

The Berlin Wall of the East

9 Jul

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

As a patriotic American, I really don’t like to be critical of my country’s foreign policy. I am doing so here, and I regret the necessity to do so. Yet one of the common themes of my writing is that policies and practices which worked in the twentieth century don’t necessarily remain useful in the ongoing progress of the twenty-first century. The Berlin Wall of the East is one such ancient policy which needs to be seriously re-examined to find a more productive and effective way of dealing with our important international relations.

The Korean War ended in in 1953 in a truce, not a peace treaty, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by a heavily fortified border along the 38th Parallel, which divides North Korea and South Korea. This “Berlin Wall of the East” is monitored by the U.N. Command. Washington also stations 28,500 American troops in South Korea to protect its ally against “North Korean aggression.”

The armed border between the Koreas is one of the last remnants of the twentieth-century cold war. It does not belong in the twenty-first century, and the barrier should be torn down. US and UN troops should go home and leave the two Koreas to work out their future together.

The United States was always so angry and upset about the Berlin Wall, built by the Soviet Union to keep the border between East and West Germany fully defended. “Tear down this wall!” was the challenge issued by United States President Ronald Reagan to the Soviet Union, in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall in 1987.

Not long after this speech the wall was torn down. There was no cataclysm. Now Germans in the east and west parts of the country work together for common goals. The ravaged eastern part of the country was easily absorbed by the more wealthy western part of Germany.

Yet it is we, the United States, who are so insistent about maintaining the 38th Parallel wall between the two Koreas: predicting catastrophe and chaos if there is any interchange between North and South. We are acting just like the Soviets did in Germany during the European part of the cold war. It’s time to end the mentality that keeps a “war” going even when there is no war.

The United States always seemed to care more about the Europeans, with whom we share a common culture. Our moral outrage was directed toward the Berlin Wall which kept all these Europeans from mixing with one another. When Asians are involved, though, there’s a cultural barrier we can’t see here in the US. We can’t even comprehend the moral outrage of maintaining a “38th Parallel” wall of our own making: keeping a war going that was over by the middle of the twentieth century.

Is it any wonder that the North Koreans sees the United States as a war-like people who only want to keep them from joining the world community? After all, we’re the ones who are keeping up all the barriers. We’re the ones who’ve kept a choke-hold on North Korea for almost sixty years, without any let-up and without any sign of remorse. We claim that they are the “hermit kingdom,” yet we are the ones who keep them isolated, by brute force and major economic sanctions.

Can no one see that dear leader Kim Jong Un wants to be free of the choke-hold of the twentieth century cold war imposed relentlessly by the United States against North Korea? Sure, Kim rattles sabers. He knows as well as we do, though, that the North Korean Army is like blades of grass, easily cut down by the giant lawnmower of the US and South Korea if they attack.

North Korea in land area is about the size of the US state of Mississippi, which has the lowest per capita income of any state in the US. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Mississippi in 2012 was $98 billion dollars.

The total GDP of North Korea during this same period was $28 billion dollars. This almost unimaginable lack of economic activity in North Korea is the best way to understand the inability of North Korea to be a credible military threat to any country. Another way to look at it is to note that the GDP of North Korea is less than 3 per cent of the GDP of South Korea. North Korea at the present time has virtually no financial capacity at all. How can such a nation be such a feared enemy of the United States?

So, everyone knows North Korea does not have even the slightest potential to defeat the US and South Korea in a “war.” It wouldn’t even be a war if the North Koreans took it on themselves to invade South Korea. It would be a one-sided slaughter. The United States knows this, and Kim Jong Un knows this. Why, then, are we keeping up this tawdry twentieth century cold war façade?

The leaders of North Korea have been asking for an end to the cold war 38th Parallel wall for some time. Sin Son Ho, Permanent Representative for North Korea to the U.N., spoke during a press conference on Friday, June 21, 2013 at U.N. headquarters in New York. See http://news.yahoo.com/nkorea-demands-dissolution-un-command-skorea-160628448.html

Ambassador Sin said U.S.-North Korea talks should include replacing the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. One of the “prerequisite requirements” for establishing “a peace mechanism” to replace the armistice, he said, is the dissolution of the U.S.-led U.N. Command [and by inference dismantling the wall between north and south].

The ambassador said the talks can include “a world without nuclear weapons,” which the United States has already proposed.

But he warned that North Korea will not give up its nuclear “self-defense deterrent” unless the United States “fundamentally and irreversibly abandons its hostile policy and nuclear threat” toward the North and dissolves the U.N. Command [and tears down the wall], “and as long as there are nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.”

I’m aware that South Korea currently has no nuclear weapons. It’s possible that the United States maintains one or more nuclear missile launch sites in South Korea. If there are any, they should be removed immediately, without even waiting for any reciprocity. The US has enough deterrent power in reserve, so that keeping nuclear weapons anywhere on the Korean Peninsula is a dangerously stupid and provocative thing for us to do.

In 1962 we gave the same message as Ambassador Sin is giving to us now, to the Soviets when they tried to move missiles into Cuba. Even though the North Koreans don’t have the same “bully pulpit” that John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan had, it’s clear that in this ideological battle they have the moral high ground, and we are in the same position as the Soviets were back then.

When you get past the angry rhetoric, it’s as if the new “dear leader” Kim Jong Un really does want to reunite the two Koreas. It’s abundantly clear that he has no idea how to govern North Korea. It’s probable that he feels a great weight of responsibility for the welfare of the 25 million people who are suffering under an almost nonexistent government, while their South Korean brethren are living good and prosperous lives. If the 38th Parallel wall is removed it’s likely that the dear leader and his top lieutenants will leave the country and retire in Switzerland or Hong Kong or even in Beijing.

If the wall at the 38th Parallel is taken down, the least likely scenario is that hordes of fierce soldiers will invade from the north. This scenario may have been likely in 1953, or even in 1983. It will not happen now, in the twenty-first century. The Korean peninsula has changed. The rest of the world has changed.

China will not feel threatened by having capitalists moving up the peninsula right to their border. They have the same ability to repel cross-border Korean invaders at this time as we have to repel any invasion of North Korea into South Korea. This was not always so. During much of the late twentieth century they needed a buffer zone between South Korea and their national border.

China has been a full participant in the international configuration which has maintained the isolation of North Korea. With their desire for a buffer zone, they can claim no moral superiority over the United States in the matter of the isolation of North Korea. China is much stronger and more confident at this time in history, and no longer needs such a buffer zone.

It is up to the United States to make the first moves to end the isolation of North Korea. We are the strong man in the area, the one the others fear. Our strength is what gives us the ability to act without trepidation at this time in history. China, now also strong, will support us in ending the isolation of North Korea. Now is the time. Let’s tear down the Berlin Wall of the East, and at last end the cold war and move into the twenty-first century.