Category Archives: South (Fascist) Korea

U.S. Hands Off North Korea!

No To The Imperialist War Drive!

Resistance Editorial

The so-called “America First” budget put forward by Trump includes a 10% increase in military spending. This increases what is already the world’s largest military budget by $56 billion. The cost of this increase will be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable sections of U.S. society — children, seniors, and those suffering from illness — as the increases are offset with slashed social spending. Long-term vital programs like “Meals on Wheels” are in the crosshairs in favor of yet more spending on an already bloated military.

Trump has already engaged in military action from the failed raid in Yemen, which killed 30 civilians, to the drone strike on a Mosque in Aleppo, Syria, killing 46 worshipers. The administration claimed to have struck a meeting of al Qaida militants, an assertion that is contradicted by sources in Syria. U.S. troops are already on the ground acting as “advisers” in Syria — a program that was begun by Obama.

Trump rode to the White House on a wave of saber rattling, reaction, immigrant bashing, and racism. This war drive is coupled with an all out attack on democratic rights and programs for the relief of the poor at home — medicaid, school lunch programs, meals on wheels. More tax breaks to the rich guarantee that the cost will be borne by working class people, the poor and oppressed communities.

Tillerson’s threat toward North Korea

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled the end of U.S. “strategic patience” with North Korea, stating that a “preemptive strike” against North Korea is possible. An attack on North Korea is a high-risk scenario that raises the very real danger of a regional conflict involving China and North Korean retaliatory attacks on both South Korea and Japan. North Korea has the capability to strike back with conventional and nuclear weapons. North Korea’s heavy artillery could flatten South Korea with disastrous results.

Millions would perish from such an ill-conceived U.S. adventure.  A war with North Korea would create a refugee crisis, starvation, and billions of dollars in property destruction. The effect on world financial markets could be devastating. Trump’s bellicose threats towards China during the campaign, and since taking office, increase the possibility of China’s involvement as an ally of the North Koreans. For the time being, Beijing has indicated their willingness to cooperate with the U.S. on the question of the North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. However, tensions have been high, with China pressing its claims on islands in the South China Sea, and Trump’s missteps on Taiwan and the US’s “One China Policy” all helping make the region a powder keg.

From 1950-1953, the U.S. fought a bloody war in Korea as the first violent engagement of the Cold War between the USSR and the West. More than 33,000 U.S troops perished in the war as well as more than a half million combined combat and civilian deaths of South Koreans. North Korea suffered more than 200,000 killed in action and an additional 300,000 wounded. Chinese military losses were also high with more than 130,000 dead and 340,000 wounded. The Korean War was fought to a stalemate and there was never a peace accord between the involved parties. The combat death toll for all sides is estimated by some experts at more than 1.2 million. During the war, the South Korean regime murdered tens of thousands of suspected communist sympathizers and their families.

Mass Antiwar Movement Needed

During the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sections of the antiwar movement consciously de-mobilized themselves in order to provide cover for the Democrats. It remains to be seen whether the scattered antiwar forces will find their voice in time to mount opposition to a U.S. attack on North Korea. While Trump and Tillerson’s rhetoric has turned the region into a powderkeg, prominent Democrats have remained silent.

To stop the drive towards war a  united front mass action oriented movement is needed. The test for the U.S. left and antiwar movement is to create the broadest possible mobilizations against Trump’s grotesque militarism and aggression around the world, while demanding the funding of human needs at home.  

Going forward, we need to build a non-exclusionary, democratic movement that is independent from ruling class political parties. This is independent of positions about the character of North Korea. The first priority, regardless of attitude toward the Kim regime, is to prevent another imperialist war. That means turning the anti-Trump struggle into a fight to oppose war and re-orient the US economy to serve human need.

U.S. Hands Off North Korea!

Money for jobs, education and healthcare, not for war! 

Feed children and seniors, not the Pentagon!

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This Day in History: When Kim Il Sung Took Power

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BY BRANDON K. GAUTHIER, OCTOBER 9, 2012

October 10 marks the anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which guides the Korean people to always emerge victorious. – Korean Central News Agency[i]

 Celebrated annually, authorities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) refer to October 10 as “Party Foundation Day.”  The Great Leader, Pyongyang contends, created the Workers’ Party of Korea on that day in 1945.  To commemorate the anniversary in years since, floral tributes are laid at statues of Kim Il Sung throughout the country; dancing parties are held in his honor; and Koreans north of the DMZ belt out revolutionary ditties, like: “Let’s Sing of Our Pride in Being under the Guidance of the General,” in joyful remembrance.[ii]

Though this date remains one of many important ones in the nascent beginnings of the DPRK, the Workers’ Party of North Korea wasn’t created until August 1946.[iii]  Instead, from October 10-13, 1945, Korean communists held a major conference[iv]—called: “The Conference of Korean Communist Party Members and Enthusiasts in the Five Northwestern Provinces”—as a first effort towards creating an organization independent from the newly reformed Korean Communist Party (KCP) in Seoul.[v]  The KCP had initially dispatched Hyon Chun-hyok, a prominent communist originally from Pyongyang, to create a subordinate bureau of the party in northern Korea.  Hyon, however, was murdered while riding shotgun (poor choice of words?) in a truck on September 28.[vi]  Curiously, Cho Man-sik, a widely recognized Christian nationalist leader, was left unharmed in the seat next to him.[vii]

During the October conference that followed, Kim Il Sung emerged as a political force for the first time.  On the thirteenth, the fourth and final day of that event, he played a leading role in the formation of the “North Korea Branch Bureau of the KCP”—a body that would quickly become autonomous from the party center in Seoul.  And while Kim was not initially elected chairman of the new bureau, in a little over two months he would find himself atop the organization.[viii]  The previous chairman, Kim Yong-bom, “died later during a simple operation on a stomach tumor.”[ix]

The Great Leader himself had only just returned to Korea from the Soviet Union.  Wearing the uniform of a Soviet army major—or was it a captain’s—Kim reentered his homeland on a Soviet ship, the Pugachev, at the port of Wonsan on September 19, 1945.  He and sixty partisan loyalists had at first attempted to return across Manchuria but, instead, travelled by ship from Vladivostok after learning that Soviet forces had destroyed the bridge across the Yalu River in Sinuiju.[x]

Clad in a foreign uniform, it might have seemed an ignominious return, but a few facts are important to note about the fresh-faced Kim Il Sung that disembarked on the east coast of Korea at only 33 years of age: he was a seasoned guerilla fighter; he had heroically endured hardships and risked his life in the struggle against the Japanese in Manchuria.[xi]

In fact, by the time Kim Il Sung was just 17 years old in that region, Japanese authorities had already imprisoned him for a short time for subversive activities.  Within two years of his release from jail, Kim had adopted the nom de guerre, Il Sung—bidding farewell to his given name, Song-Ju—and squeezed a rifle trigger in combat against a patrol of Japan’s “Manchukuo” puppet government.[xii]  His memoirs, so often filled with hagiographic nonsense, recall that all-important first moment with penetrating nostalgia: ‘I was so tense and excited that I could feel my heart beating.’[xiii]

Years later in early 1941, when Kim Il Sung and a handful of guerillas crossed into the Soviet Union to the west of Vladivostok, it was out of sheer desperation.  The Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, an organization formed by the Chinese Communist Party, which Kim served in as only one of many Korean officers, was thoroughly decimated by strident Japanese manhunts.  Only after the death of his “superior and mentor,” Wei Zhengmin—a man who used to make him naengmyon (delicious buckwheat noodles served in a cold broth)—is it said that the future North Korean leader accepted the necessity of fleeing to the Soviet Union.[xiv]  There, he received an appointment as an officer in the Soviet Union’s 88th International Division, restored his health, and fathered two sons, Kim Jong-il and the ill-fated Kim Pyong-il, with his new wife: Kim Chong-suk.

And so, returning to Korea in September 1945, Kim Il Sung must have felt entitled to play some important role in the future of his country.  Having gained the good graces of the Soviet authorities, he wasted no time going about it.  On October 14, 1945, the day after he helped establish the North Korea Branch Bureau, Kim was introduced to the Korean people at a Soviet-held rally—entitled a “‘reception for the triumphant return of General Kim Il Sung.’”[xv]  In front of approximately 70,000 people, the widely known nationalist Christian leader, Cho Man-sik, introduced the future President of the DPRK.[xvi]  As the guerilla fighter—turned Soviet army major—turned Korean liberator extraordinaire—took the stage, a row of Soviet officers literally backed him.  Many in the crowd were already familiar with his daring exploits.[xvii]

Yet, as he spoke, dismay surged among the listeners: who was this deceptively fresh-faced man?  Was this individual really the famed guerilla that survived so many encounters with the Japanese?  How could this young man hope to claim leadership over thousands of others that had also resisted the Japanese occupiers?

So yes—Kim Il Sung had an image problem in those first consequential days after October 10, 1945.  But it didn’t matter very long.  As the Soviet propaganda machine geared up behind him, Kim proved extraordinarily adept at utilizing his Soviet-backing and political wiliness to forestall and outmaneuver other rival factions.  By June 1949 when the Workers’ Party of Korea, as we know it, finally emerged in the years after the October conference, Kim Il Sung was the undisputed leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.[xviii]


NOTES

[i] “Founder of WPK,” Korean Central News Agency (Hereafter KCNA), October 10, 2011. Articles from the Korean Central News Agency can be accessed at: http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm

[ii] See: “Floral Tribute Paid,” KCNA, October 10, 2011. “Dancing Parties Celebrate WPK Anniversary,” KCNA, October 10, 2011.

[iii] Charles Armstrong, The North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 58 & n. 91, 66.  The Workers’ Party of North Korea was established from August 28-30, 1946 after the northern branch of the Korean Communist Party and the New People’s Party joined together.

[iv] The conference overlapped with a meeting of delegates from Interim People’s Committees in Pyongyang from October 8-10, 1945.  People’s Committees, created on the initiative of Koreans at the Provincial, County, City, and Township levels, were local and regional governments established after the departure of the Japanese.  See: Bruce Cumings, The Origins of the Korean War, Vol. 1 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981), 391-395.

[v] Ibid.  The Korean Communist Party was founded in April 1925 by Pak Hon-yong but withered away as a formal organization in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a result of Japanese persecution and internal infighting.  After the defeat of Japan in August 1945, the party was quickly reformed under the leadership of Pak.  See: Dae-Sook Suh, Kim Il Sung: The North Korean Leader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 69.

[vi] Ibid., 69-70. Hyon Chun-hyok and Cho Man-sik had just met with Soviet Major General Andrei A. Romanenko, the leader of the Soviet civil administration in northern Korea.

[vii] As Dae-Sook Suh states, “…it is unlikely that he [Kim Il Sung] was involved in the plot to eliminate Hyon…Political assassination was common in both North and South Korea shortly after the liberation,” Kim Il Sung: The North Korean Leader, 70.

[viii] Some scholars, such as Chin O. Chung, do not accept that Kim Il Sung was not elected chairman of the branch in October.  For a succinct discussion of this issue: see: Jacques L. Fuqua, Jr., Nuclear Endgame: The Need for Engagement With North Korea(Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), 174 n. 14.

[ix] Dae-Sook Suh, Kim Il Sung: The North Korean Leader, 71.  Other than the odd circumstances surrounding Kim Yong-bom’s death, no evidence exists that he was assassinated.

[x] Bradley K. Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004). 51. Dae-Sook Suh, Kim Il Sung: The North Korean Leader, 50.

[xi] Dae-Sook Suh goes into great detail about Kim’s guerilla past to discern fact from fiction, see: The North Korean Leader, 15-57.

[xii] Bradley K. Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, 29-32. Dae-Sook Suh, The North Korean Leader, 6-8.

[xiii] Kim Il Sung, With the Century, Vol. 2 (Pyongyang: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1992), 324-326. Quoted and cited in Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, 31-32.

[xiv] Dae-Sook Suh, The North Korean Leader, 47.

[xv] Quoted in Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, 52.

[xvi] Cho later refused to accept a Soviet trusteeship of northern Korea and was placed under house arrest on January 5, 1946.  He was eventually executed in October 1950 as DPRK troops evacuated Pyongyang during the Korean War.  See: Armstrong, The North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950, 120-123.

[xvii] Robert Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee, Communism in Korea, Vol. 1 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), 324-325, 338. Bruce Cumings, The Origins of the Korean War, Vol. 1, 397-403. Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, 52. A firsthand account of the speech from O Yong-jin’s “An Eye Witness Report”—cited by Scalapino & Lee, Cumings, and Martin—states that Kim had “‘a haircut like a Chinese waiter’” and spoke in “‘a monotonous, plain, and duck-like voice’”; the speech caused “‘an electrifying sense of distrust, disappointment, discontent, and anger.’”  Bruce Cumings, however, rejects the integrity of this “anticommunist account,” stating: “I heard similar accounts from Koreans in the south who claimed to have attended the same meeting; there is no way to verify such impressions…These things belong in gossip columns.” See: The Origins of the Korean War, Vol. 1, 557, endnote 62.

[xviii] With Kim Il Sung as chairman, the Workers’ Party of Korea was formed in a merger between the North Korean Workers’ Party and the South Korean Workers’ Party on June 30, 1949….

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Meeting Kim Il Sung in His Last Weeks

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BY MARK BARRY, APRIL 15, 2012

The first (non-communist) Americans to meet North Korea’s president Kim Il Sung likely were journalists Harrison Salisbury of The New York Times, and Selig Harrison, then ofThe Washington Post, in 1972. Congressman Stephen Solarz was the first U.S. public official to meet him in 1980, and Rev. Billy Graham later met him in 1992 and 1994. Little did I realize when I met Kim Il Sung on April 16, 1994, weeks before his death, I would be among a very small group of Americans ever to do so. On Sunday, April 15, North Korea celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the “Eternal President,” perhaps the North’s biggest celebration ever. Kim ruled North Korea for nearly half a century, far outliving Stalin and Mao, and holding power from Truman through Clinton. More importantly, Kim Il Sung embodied North Korea, a country and people he molded in his image. His legacy is now carried on by the young Kim Jong Un, who, North Koreans are constantly reminded, resembles his grandfather.

*  *  *

I was senior staff in a delegation organized by a Washington, DC-based NGO, the Summit Council for World Peace, an association of former heads of state and government, that arrived in Pyongyang at the time of Kim Il Sung’s 82nd birthday. The group was chaired by a former president of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Carazo, and included a former Governor General of Canada, former Egyptian prime minister, former chief of staff of the French armed forces, a U.S. think tank executive, and CNN’s chief news executive, among others. TV crews also came from CNN and Japan’s NHK. The Council had a prior record of successfully arranging meetings with Kim Il Sung, and Carazo himself had met Kim several times in the past.

Mid-morning on April 16, 1994 – the day after Kim’s birthday – our international delegation was brought in a fleet of black Mercedes to the Kumsusan Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, Kim Il Sung’s official residence. Our minders kept repeating how lucky we were for this opportunity. Inside, we lined up single file and were introduced individually to the waiting Kim Il Sung by a vice chairman of the Korea Asia Pacific Peace Committee. By Kim’s side was his superb English translator, and party secretary Kim Yong Sun, then the number three figure in North Korea (who later played an instrumental role in the 2000 inter-Korean summit) and chair of the Peace Committee. Kim Il Sung stood and walked on his own without assistance, but had a military aide nearby just in case. He did not seem to be wearing a hearing aid. His handshake was firm, he did not look overweight and appeared to be in good health, although his voice was rather gravelly (a Korean affairs analyst later told me this was because Kim used to smoke a lot). Very noticeable on the right side of his neck was a baseball-sized growth, which was benign, but because of its location, was said to be inoperable; official photos of Kim always were taken from a leftward angle to hide the growth.

Official Meeting Photo

Official Meeting Photo

After our official greetings, we were brought before a huge mural in the main lobby of the palace for our official photos. They were taken in two groups: the former heads of state and government and other senior members of the delegation, and the journalists. As with other visitors to the palace, we later each received a copy of the official photo with the date gold-stamped.

We were then escorted into the palace conference room with a long table that could accommodate two dozen. Each place setting had a pen, writing pad, and microphone, as well as coffee cup and dish of small candies. After we sat down, the window curtains and room lighting were remotely adjusted. Noticeably, neither the translator nor Kim Yong Sun sat too close to President Kim. On the DPRK side of the table were also Kim Yong Sun’s wife, and two other officials from the Asia Pacific Peace Committee.

President Carazo, who founded the United Nations Peace University in Costa Rica, spoke first, thanking Kim for receiving our group, and noting we were a goodwill delegation that had come to the DPRK for the sake of peace in the entire peninsula. President Kim responded that he regretted that we did not come through Panmunjom because we could then better understand the division of Korea (in fact, we had sought permission from the ROK to do so, but the Kim Young Sam administration denied our request; however, we later traveled to the northern end of Panmunjom, as well as a small town by the DMZ that clearly was not a Potemkin village). Kim added that earlier in the year, Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) had come to see him, and had returned to South Korea by way of Panmunjom, becoming the first American to do so since the Korean War.

Kim then began to expound. He said, “We always open our doors widely. Our only secrets have to do with the military. But apart from that, we are ready to open to the outside.” The nuclear issue, which had become quite serious by that time, was not brought up in this meeting, but was left to the journalists. Later that day, Kim Il Sung would personally hand to Josette Sheeran, then managing editor of The Washington Times (now vice chair of the World Economic Forum), a booklet of his written answers to her questions, that included his candid responses about the DPRK nuclear program. The full-length interview, her second with him, was published on April 19th. I do not believe his answers were ghost-written, but were largely dictated by Kim, because the tone had the same unmistakable authority as when I heard him speak.

Kim then proceeded to boast that in North Korea “there are no beggars, no unemployed, no homeless.” He recalled asking Billy Graham if there were beggars, unemployed and homeless in America, to which Graham said “yes.” While this statement seems laughable in the context of the severe food shortages that North Korea would endure from 1996 on, it was not a ludicrous thing to hear about the North in 1994. Flying in on Air Koryo, President Carazo had peered out the cabin window and saw the expanse of freshly planted rice paddies, and said it appeared North Korea could produce enough food to feed itself. Kim Il Sung also told a story about a visiting Hong Kong businessman who had lost his wallet in a Pyongyang hotel with $10,000 in it. His wallet was returned to him within two hours, everything intact.

Kim then turned to what seemed a favorite theme of his: what made the DPRK different from the Soviet Union, China and other communist states. He said, “After 1945, I tried to find intellectuals to rebuild the country, but could only locate a handful. The partisans who fought with me against the Japanese knew how to fight, but not how to build institutions.” The Japanese in their 35-year colonial rule, he said, left no college functioning in the North. “So I had to start my own, which became Kim Il Sung University, and then other schools. Today [1994], there are 1.76 million intellectuals out of a population of 20 million, almost one out of ten citizens.” What still impresses me about his point is how North Koreans value education, are inquisitive, and possess great human capital that can easily be trained to a high-level of professional skill.

Suddenly, Kim Il Sung leaned to the side and asked Secretary Kim Yong Sun for his Korean Workers Party card. I will never forget the look on Kim Yong Sun’s face. He almost turned white, because even though President Kim wanted the card just to make a point, Kim Yong Sun did not know if the request meant something more serious, such as losing his party post. But as he handed the card to his leader, Kim Il Sung held it up and pointed to the large gold-stamped party emblem, consisting of the usual hammer and sickle, but also a calligraphy brush in the middle. “In 1946, I created this emblem for our party. The brush symbolizes our highest commitment to intellectual pursuits in every discipline. Our emblem is unique among communist parties in the world. This is an example of juche, doing things our own way. We did everything in our own way.” President Kim then handed the party card back to its relieved owner.

At this juncture, Bill Taylor, vice president of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, who was meeting the North Korean leader for the second time, told Kim that he had not changed a bit from two years ago, and looked to be in good health. Kim responded, “I always live with optimism.” Eason Jordan, president of CNN International, greeted Kim on behalf of Ted Turner, founder of CNN, and expressed hope for a face-to-face interview, which did not materialize. Taylor praised Kim’s decision to allow in CNN and NHK as a very important step. In fact, CNN’s Mike Chinoy conducted the first live broadcast from Pyongyang during this trip, using state television’s satellite uplink.

The meeting ended and we adjourned across the hall for lunch. We sat at a large round table with white tablecloth, although most journalists sat at a second table. The northern Korean cuisine was extraordinary, including my first time to taste blueberry wine. Conversation became a bit more free-flowing. Kim was asked about the role of his son and successor, Kim Jong Il. He responded, “I am so proud of him. As an elderly man, I cannot read easily, and every day my son dictates reports into a cassette recorder so I can listen to them later on. But he keeps me fully informed. He is truly a filial son.” The North Korean leader also noted he likes to hunt, especially wild boar. One participant asked him if he would like to come to the United States. He responded, “I have yet to visit the United States, but I hope to do so in the future.” Someone suggested he even come to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 1994. Kim smiled. Though he likely feared flying, the State Department could not have prevented him from coming to the UN with other world leaders in attendance because Kim was head of state of a member nation.

According to one Korean affairs specialist, in Kim’s 1994 discussions with Rev. Billy Graham, a large U.S. National Council of Churches delegation, and former president Jimmy Carter, he frequently returned to his youth and engaged in a discussion of religion with curiosity. In a sense, he began to mellow, as older Korean men can be  quite susceptible to this; among older overseas Korean men, there is an urge to return to one’s hometown in Korea. This seemed to me to be true based on my observation of Kim Il Sung that day.

After the banquet, we said our individual farewells to Kim Il Sung. Several participants told him they wanted to return to the DPRK with others so they could see the country for themselves. One even invited Kim to come to the U.S. to enjoy sport fishing. Kim seemed genuinely appreciative of each gesture. As we walked out of the reception room, Kim was left standing with just Kim Yong Sun, his translator and military aide. He seemed to regret seeing us leave. We were outsiders, non-Koreans, from Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Egypt, and elsewhere. He appeared to enjoy nothing better than to tell us his story, one few foreigners in the non-communist world had heard. For Kim Il Sung, it was a rare opportunity, to get courtesy and respect from foreign leaders and let them know his legacy. We did not realize Kim had only weeks to live.

Kim Il Sung would see two more outside visitors in June 1994, Selig Harrison and Jimmy Carter, as the nuclear issue reached a fever pitch and both the Clinton and Kim Young Sam administrations prepared for a possible outbreak of hostilities. Carter’s historic trip as the first former U.S. president to meet Kim Il Sung*, defused the nuclear crisis, averted war and led to the 1994 Agreed Framework, which froze the DPRK nuclear program until 2003. Kim also told Carter he agreed to hold the first-ever inter-Korean summit that summer with Kim Young Sam. It was not to be.

Kim Il Sung died suddenly of a heart attack on July 8, 1994. We later learned that Kim knew he was dying and felt an urgency to initiate major policy measures while still alive to effect a strategic change; Kim Jong Il would have been unable to implement major policy change after his father’s death. Kim senior’s meeting with Carter was that pivotal moment, and U.S.-DPRK relations eventually were elevated to where, in October 2000, the top North Korean general, Vice Marshall Jo Myong Rok, greeted Bill Clinton in the White House and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang weeks later. The same pattern appeared to unfold last fall: Kim Jong Il knew he would not live long, and in his final weeks, set into motion policy initiatives, including toward the U.S., to pave the way for Kim Jong Un’s succession.

*  *  *

Kim Il Sung’s official residence became his mausoleum, renamed the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Kim Jong Il, who died in December, soon will join his father there. In February, Kim Jong Un rechristened the mausoleum the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, named for his father, but foremost for his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.

* Excellent sources for this trip include Marion Creekmore, Jr., A Moment of Crisis: Jimmy Carter, the Power of a Peacemaker, and North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions, 2006, and Douglas Brinkley, The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey to the Nobel Peace Prize (cf. Chapter 20, “Mission to North Korea”), 1998. Bill Clinton was the only former U.S. president to meet Kim Jong Il, in 2009.

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Book Review: Bruce Cumings’ North Korea: Another Country

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BY SOPHIA SOLIVIO

Bruce Cumings is the Chairperson of the History Department and Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History and the College at the University of Chicago. In 1975, he received his PhD from Columbia University. Cumings’ professional and academic credentials make his compilation of complaints primarily in regard to the United States’ foreign and domestic policies and his fundamental admiration for North Korea in North Korea: Another Country (2004) especially grating to read because presumably he has the professional experience and academic training to produce a more informative, engaging book about North Korea for the general reader.

Cumings has written well-received scholarly books on Korean history, especially the Korean War. With North Korea: Another Country, however, he does not intend to write for other academics. Instead, he focuses on a readership with little or no familiarity with the history of North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Korean peninsula, and United States–Korea relations. By the end of Cumings’ 256-page book, that readership may have learned more about the aforementioned topics, but only tangentially and selectively. Unfortunately, Cumings has written a book sidetracked by his supercilious attitude.

In North Korea: Another Country, Cumings seeks to educate “the reader who wishes to learn about our eternal enemy” and wonders “if Americans can ever transcend their own experience and join a world of profound difference.” To help curious readers, even Americans, willingly enter his “world of profound difference,” the author divides the book into six chapters beginning with the brutality, particularly of the United States, during the Korean War and its continuous influence on North Korea; the history of North Korea’s nuclear program and the apparent intransigence of North Korea–United States negotiations over the former’s denuclearization; Kim Il Sung’s life, his fight for an independent Korea, and the appeal of anti-imperialism to North Koreans and Koreans overall; the history of daily life in the northern half of the Korean peninsula and the DPRK; Kim Jong Il’s life and dynamism as a leader; and the crises in North Korea, including floods, droughts, famine, and the collapse of its energy system, following the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994.

Throughout the six chapters, Cumings basically covers the modern history of north Korea and its relations with the United States to show that, contrary to Western narratives about the DPRK, the country is dynamic rather than static and more rational than not. Cumings’ objective, to increase public awareness of North Korea as a somewhat knowable country and to combat perceptions of North Korea as a hopelessly backward, mysterious country, is very worthwhile and admirable. His execution of that objective maybe well-intentioned, but it is also meandering and overbearing. Often, Cumings seems more interested in using North Korea as a lens through which to contemptuously mention and criticize the United States and whatever or whoever else annoys him; this habit frequently detracts from his attempts to educate others as completely as possible, about North Korea.

For example, early on Cumings notes a 1999 CIA study that according to him, “almost grudgingly acknowledged various achievements of this regime: compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular; ‘radical change’ in the position of women; genuinely free housing; free health care, and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine.” Rather than clarify whether the CIA study “grudgingly acknowledged various achievements” of the North Korean government in a vacuum, in comparison to other Communist states, or even South Korea, Cumings appears to reference the study mainly to underscore the hypocrisy of the United States, where the government and the press relentlessly pigeonholes North Korea as “our” evil Oriental enemy as, at one point, the CIA documents positive socioeconomic developments in North Korea.

Cumings does not bother to examine, point by point, the trajectory of North Korea’s early achievements in social welfare and gender equality. North Korea’s “compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular” led to the creation of Mangyondae Revolutionary School, initially chiefly for the education of the next generation’s political elite, the children whose parents died in the Korean War. In addition, in contrast to South Korea’s post-Korean War policy of “exporting” orphans, resulting in approximately 150,000 adopted ethnic Koreans in more than 20 Western countries, Kim Il Sung encouraged domestic adoption of the country’s war orphans although from 1951–52 at least, an estimated 2,500 North Korean war orphans were adopted in several Eastern European Communist countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia, as well as Hungary and Mongolia. However, the recent famine also contributed to the creation of 200,000 orphans, many becoming ‘kotchebis’ or “ wandering swallows,” street urchins living off black markets in North Korea and/or relying on crossing into the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in order to scavenge for food.

Also, while North Korea for instance, on July 30, 1946 announced the enactment of the “Status on Gender Equality” with Clause I stating, “In all areas of the country’s economic, cultural and social political life, women have the same rights as men,” in terms of political power, as of 2001, women represented about 20% of the Supreme People’s Assembly, all in symbolic posts. In 1990, there were only 14 women members of 328 members in the policy-making Central Committee and the Alternative Members of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party. In addition, in the mid-1980s, North Korean defectors claimed about 60–70% of women quit their jobs after marriage.

Yet at the same time, North Korean women may have earned or earn more than 70% of the male income level. Notably, in 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported South Korean women earned 38% less than the male income level and South Korea had the largest income gender gap in the developed world. Similarly, a Beijing Broadcast Agency report on March 6, 1988 announced a gradual increase in the number of highly educated women professionals in North Korea from the 1970s-80s. In 1963, 43,000 of about 294,000 specialists in North Korea were women. In the 1970s, there were 1,310,000 specialists in North Korea and 463,000 were women with about 220 having doctorate or semi-doctorate degrees. Most recently, in 1989, approximately 37% of the 1,350,000 specialists in North Korea are women. Women in North Korea then, are not brainwashed and incapable zombies for non-North Koreans, particularly Americans, to pity or scorn.

Cumings wants to humanize not only North Korean women, but North Koreans in general. Presumably, as a Westerner fortunate enough to have already entered the previously mentioned “world of profound difference,” he thinks and behaves just as, if not more, empathetically and respectfully toward North Koreans as anyone else. His characterization of his experience at the North Korean Museum of the Revolution, however, perfectly encapsulates the contrast between Cumings’ non-stop moralizing and his condescending tone throughout North Korea: Another Country. Commenting on one exhibit of gifts given to Kim Il Sung by foreign dignitaries, Cumings writes,

“My guide, a young woman whose English was less than fluent, paused in front of a glass-encased chimpanzee, and began to instruct me in a sing-song voice that ‘the Gleat Reader’ had received this taxidermic specimen from one Canaan Banana, vice president of Zimbabwe. I dissolved into hysterics and could not stop laughing as she continued to intone her mantra without dropping a single (mangled) syllable.”

Cumings is considered a “progressive” academic. His ostensible liberalism and unique ability to “transcend” his own experience does not make him a less dogmatic, petty person as demonstrated by his paragraph-long mockery of a North Korean woman’s English accent—obviously not up to his standards. Finally, Cumings presents himself as a person and a historian of Korean history (unable or unwilling to speak Korean fluently) who considers Korea and the United States equals culturally and socially, and in an ideal world, politically as well. Following the “cultural exchange” Cumings describes at the Museum of the Revolution, though, who had the privilege of publicly ridiculing and contributing to negative public perceptions of the “Other?” The young, female North Korean tour guide? Or Cumings, an older white guy with a comfortable job at a prestigious American university? …

Source

KCNA on the Korean War

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Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — The Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953) ended in a victory of the Korean people.

But, its consequences were very devastating and disastrous.

The U.S. bombing in the war left more than 8 700 factories destroyed and 90 000 hectares of farmland spoiled.

Power stations and reservoirs were severely damaged and towns and rural communities were reduced to ashes.

The U.S. imperialists said that the DPRK would not be able to get to its feet even in one hundred years.

Convinced of the victory in the war, President Kim Il Sung pressed ahead with preparations for post-war rehabilitation and construction in a far-sighted manner.

In early Juche 40 (1951), he gave an instruction to work out a blueprint for rehabilitating the capital city of Pyongyang. He had a Cabinet decision on reconstructing Pyongyang adopted in May 1952.

After the war, in August 1953 he delivered a historic report “Everything for the Postwar Rehabilitation and Development of the National Economy” at the 6th plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

He, in the report, proposed a basic line of postwar economic construction, the keynote of which was to give priority to building heavy industry while developing light industry and agriculture simultaneously.
The President channeled all efforts to liquidating the aftermath of the war.

Soon after the war, he called at the Kangnam Ceramic Factory and the Kangson Steel Plant, appealing to the workers to restart their operation at an earlier date.

When visiting the Hungnam Fertilizer Factory in South Hamgyong Province, which was heavily damaged in the war, he encouraged the workers there to restore the factory in a short time, mindful that the farmers in Hamju Plain were bitterly lamenting over the ruined factory.

He went to Jangjingang Power Station, Joyang-ri, South Hamgyong Province, Sambong-ri, South Phyongan Province, Wonsan College of Agriculture and other industrial establishments, rural communities and educational and cultural institutions to arouse them to rehabilitation.

In response to his appeal, the workers of the Kangson Steel Plant restored the ruined electric furnace by their own efforts and made the plant operational 40 days after the war.

The then Songjin Steel Plant, too, reconstructed the electric furnace to begin production.

Railway workers opened the train service in all branch lines some days after the ceasefire.

Farmers worked hard to rezone the ravaged farmland and repair the irrigation facilities.

Under his energetic leadership, rapid rehabilitation and development were witnessed in the heavy and light industries and agriculture.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang and other local cities began making their appearances again on the ruins.

Thus, the post-war rehabilitation and construction was successfully carried out in Korea under the President’s wise guidance.

Left Anticommunism: the Unkindest Cut

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BY MICHAEL PARENTI

Despite a lifetime of “shaming” the system, NOAM CHOMSKY, America’s foremost “engagé” intellectual, remains an unrepentant left anticommunist.

In the United States, for over a hundred years, the ruling interests tirelessly propagated anticommunism among the populace, until it became more like a religious orthodoxy than a political analysis. During the Cold War, the anticommunist ideological framework could transform any data about existing communist societies into hostile evidence. If the Soviets refused to negotiate a point, they were intransigent and belligerent; if they appeared willing to make concessions, this was but a skillful ploy to put us off our guard. By opposing arms limitations, they would have demonstrated their aggressive intent; but when in fact they supported most armament treaties, it was because they were mendacious and manipulative. If the churches in the USSR were empty, this demonstrated that religion was suppressed; but if the churches were full, this meant the people were rejecting the regime’s atheistic ideology. If the workers went on strike (as happened on infrequent occasions), this was evidence of their alienation from the collectivist system; if they didn’t go on strike, this was because they were intimidated and lacked freedom. A scarcity of consumer goods demonstrated the failure of the economic system; an improvement in consumer supplies meant only that the leaders were attempting to placate a restive population and so maintain a firmer hold over them. If communists in the United States played an important role struggling for the rights of workers, the poor, African-Americans, women, and others, this was only their guileful way of gathering support among disfranchised groups and gaining power for themselves. How one gained power by fighting for the rights of powerless groups was never explained. What we are dealing with is a nonfalsifiable orthodoxy, so assiduously marketed by the ruling interests that it affected people across the entire political spectrum.

Genuflection to Orthodoxy

Many on the U.S. Left have exhibited a Soviet bashing and Red baiting that matches anything on the Right in its enmity and crudity. Listen to Noam Chomsky holding forth about “left intellectuals” who try to “rise to power on the backs of mass popular movements” and “then beat the people into submission. . . . You start off as basically a Leninist who is going to be part of the Red bureaucracy. You see later that power doesn’t lie that way, and you very quickly become an ideologist of the right. . . . We’re seeing it right now in the [former] Soviet Union. The same guys who were communist thugs two years back, are now running banks and [are] enthusiastic free marketeers and praising Americans” (Z Magazine, 10/95).

Chomsky’s imagery is heavily indebted to the same U.S. corporate political culture he so frequently criticizes on other issues. In his mind, the revolution was betrayed by a coterie of “communist thugs” who merely hunger for power rather than wanting the power to end hunger. In fact, the communists did not “very quickly” switch to the Right but struggled in the face of a momentous onslaught to keep Soviet socialism alive for more than seventy years. To be sure, in the Soviet Union’s waning days some, like Boris Yeltsin, crossed over to capitalist ranks, but others continued to resist free-market incursions at great cost to themselves, many meeting their deaths during Yeltsin’s violent repression of the Russian parliament in 1993.

Some leftists and others fall back on the old stereotype of power-hungry Reds who pursue power for power’s sake without regard for actual social goals. If true, one wonders why, in country after country, these Reds side with the poor and powerless often at great risk and sacrifice to themselves, rather than reaping the rewards that come with serving the well-placed.

For decades, many left-leaning writers and speakers in the United States have felt obliged to establish their credibility by indulging in anticommunist and anti-Soviet genuflection, seemingly unable to give a talk or write an article or book review on whatever political subject without injecting some anti-Red sideswipe. The intent was, and still is, to distance themselves from the Marxist-Leninist Left.

Adam Hochschild: Keeping his distance from the “Stalinist Left” and recommending same posture to fellow progressives.

Adam Hochschild, a liberal writer and publisher, warned those on the Left who might be lackadaisical about condemning existing communist societies that they “weaken their credibility” (Guardian, 5/23/84). In other words, to be credible opponents of the cold war, we first had to join in the Cold-War condemnations of communist societies. Ronald Radosh urged that the peace movement purge itself of communists so that it not be accused of being communist (Guardian, 3/16/83). If I understand Radosh: To save ourselves from anticommunist witchhunts, we should ourselves become witchhunters. Purging the Left of communists became a longstanding practice, having injurious effects on various progressive causes. For instance, in 1949 some twelve unions were ousted from the CIO because they had Reds in their leadership. The purge reduced CIO membership by some 1.7 million and seriously weakened its recruitment drives and political clout. In the late 1940s, to avoid being “smeared” as Reds, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), a supposedly progressive group, became one of the most vocally anticommunist organizations.

The strategy did not work. ADA and others on the Left were still attacked for being communist or soft on communism by those on the Right. Then and now, many on the Left have failed to realize that those who fight for social change on behalf of the less privileged elements of society will be Red-baited by conservative elites whether they are communists or not. For ruling interests, it makes little difference whether their wealth and power is challenged by “communist subversives” or “loyal American liberals.” All are lumped together as more or less equally abhorrent.

Even when attacking the Right, the left critics cannot pass up an opportunity to flash their anticommunist credentials. So Mark Green writes in a criticism of President Ronald Reagan that “when presented with a situation that challenges his conservative catechism, like an unyielding Marxist-Leninist, [Reagan] will change not his mind but the facts.” While professing a dedication to fighting dogmatism “both of the Right and Left,” individuals who perform such de rigueur genuflections reinforce the anticommunist dogma. Red-baiting leftists contributed their share to the climate of hostility that has given U.S. leaders such a free hand in waging hot and cold wars against communist countries and which even today makes a progressive or even liberal agenda difficult to promote.

A prototypic Red-basher who pretended to be on the Left was George Orwell. In the middle of World War II, as the Soviet Union was fighting for its life against the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad, Orwell announced that a “willingness to criticize Russia and Stalin is the test of intellectual honesty. It is the only thing that from a literary intellectual’s point of view is really dangerous” (Monthly Review, 5/83). Safely ensconced within a virulently anticommunist society, Orwell (with Orwellian doublethink) characterized the condemnation of communism as a lonely courageous act of defiance. Today, his ideological progeny are still at it, offering themselves as intrepid left critics of the Left, waging a valiant struggle against imaginary Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist hordes.
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Sorely lacking within the U.S. Left is any rational evaluation of the Soviet Union, a nation that endured a protracted civil war and a multinational foreign invasion in the very first years of its existence, and that two decades later threw back and destroyed the Nazi beast at enormous cost to itself. In the three decades after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets made industrial advances equal to what capitalism took a century to accomplish–while feeding and schooling their children rather than working them fourteen hours a day as capitalist industrialists did and still do in many parts of the world. And the Soviet Union, along with Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, and Cuba provided vital assistance to national liberation movements in countries around the world, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa.

Left anticommunists remained studiously unimpressed by the dramatic gains won by masses of previously impoverished people under communism. Some were even scornful of such accomplishments. I recall how in Burlington Vermont, in 1971, the noted anticommunist anarchist, Murray Bookchin, derisively referred to my concern for “the poor little children who got fed under communism” (his words).

Slinging Labels

Those of us who refused to join in the Soviet bashing were branded by left anticommunists as “Soviet apologists” and “Stalinists,” even if we disliked Stalin and his autocratic system of rule and believed there were things seriously wrong with existing Soviet society. Our real sin was that unlike many on the Left we refused to uncritically swallow U.S. media propaganda about communist societies. Instead, we maintained that, aside from the well-publicized deficiencies and injustices, there were positive features about existing communist systems that were worth preserving, that improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people in meaningful and humanizing ways. This claim had a decidedly unsettling effect on left anticommunists who themselves could not utter a positive word about any communist society (except possibly Cuba) and could not lend a tolerant or even courteous ear to anyone who did.

Saturated by anticommunist orthodoxy, most U.S. leftists have practiced a left McCarthyism against people who did have something positive to say about existing communism, excluding them from participation in conferences, advisory boards, political endorsements, and left publications. Like conservatives, left anticommunists tolerated nothing less than a blanket condemnation of the Soviet Union as a Stalinist monstrosity and a Leninist moral aberration.

That many U.S. leftists have scant familiarity with Lenin’s writings and political work does not prevent them from slinging the “Leninist” label. Noam Chomsky, who is an inexhaustible fount of anticommunist caricatures, offers this comment about Leninism: “Western and also Third World intellectuals were attracted to the Bolshevik counterrevolution [sic] because Leninism is, after all, a doctrine that says that the radical intelligentsia have a right to take state power and to run their countries by force, and that is an idea which is rather appealing to intellectuals.” Here Chomsky fashions an image of power-hungry intellectuals to go along with his cartoon image of power-hungry Leninists, villains seeking not the revolutionary means to fight injustice but power for power’s sake. When it comes to Red-bashing, some of the best and brightest on the Left sound not much better than the worst on the Right.

At the time of the 1996 terror bombing in Oklahoma City, I heard a radio commentator announce: “Lenin said that the purpose of terror is to terrorize.” U.S. media commentators have repeatedly quoted Lenin in that misleading manner. In fact, his statement was disapproving of terrorism. He polemicized against isolated terrorist acts which do nothing but create terror among the populace, invite repression, and isolate the revolutionary movement from the masses. Far from being the totalitarian, tight-circled conspirator, Lenin urged the building of broad coalitions and mass organizations, encompassing people who were at different levels of political development. He advocated whatever diverse means were needed to advance the class struggle, including participation in parliamentary elections and existing trade unions. To be sure, the working class, like any mass group, needed organization and leadership to wage a successful revolutionary struggle, which was the role of a vanguard party, but that did not mean the proletarian revolution could be fought and won by putschists or terrorists.

Lenin constantly dealt with the problem of avoiding the two extremes of liberal bourgeois opportunism and ultra-left adventurism. Yet he himself is repeatedly identified as an ultra-left putschist by mainstream journalists and some on the Left. Whether Lenin’s approach to revolution is desirable or even relevant today is a question that warrants critical examination. But a useful evaluation is not likely to come from people who misrepresent his theory and practice.

Left anticommunists find any association with communist organizations to be morally unacceptable because of the “crimes of communism.” Yet many of them are themselves associated with the Democratic Party in this country, either as voters or members, seemingly unconcerned about the morally unacceptable political crimes committed by leaders of that organization. Under one or another Democratic administration, 120,000 Japanese Americans were torn from their homes and livelihoods and thrown into detention camps; atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an enormous loss of innocent life; the FBI was given authority to infiltrate political groups; the Smith Act was used to imprison leaders of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and later on leaders of the Communist Party for their political beliefs; detention camps were established to round up political dissidents in the event of a “national emergency”; during the late 1940s and 1950s, eight thousand federal workers were purged from government because of their political associations and views, with thousands more in all walks of life witchhunted out of their careers; the Neutrality Act was used to impose an embargo on the Spanish Republic that worked in favor of Franco’s fascist legions; homicidal counterinsurgency programs were initiated in various Third World countries; and the Vietnam War was pursued and escalated. And for the better part of a century, the Congressional leadership of the Democratic Party protected racial segregation and stymied all anti-lynching and fair employment bills. Yet all these crimes, bringing ruination and death to many, have not moved the liberals, the social democrats, and the “democratic socialist” anticommunists to insist repeatedly that we issue blanket condemnations of either the Democratic Party or the political system that produced it, certainly not with the intolerant fervor that has been directed against existing communism.

Pure Socialism vs. Siege Socialism

The upheavals in Eastern Europe did not constitute a defeat for socialism because socialism never existed in those countries, according to some U.S. leftists. They say that the communist states offered nothing more than bureaucratic, one-party “state capitalism” or some such thing. Whether we call the former communist countries “socialist” is a matter of definition. Suffice it to say, they constituted something different from what existed in the profit-driven capitalist world–as the capitalists themselves were not slow to recognize.

First, in communist countries there was less economic inequality than under capitalism. The perks enjoyed by party and government elites were modest by corporate CEO standards in the West [even more so when compared with today’s grotesque compensation packages to the executive and financial elites.—Eds], as were their personal incomes and life styles. Soviet leaders like Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev lived not in lavishly appointed mansions like the White House, but in relatively large apartments in a housing project near the Kremlin set aside for government leaders. They had limousines at their disposal (like most other heads of state) and access to large dachas where they entertained visiting dignitaries. But they had none of the immense personal wealth that most U.S. leaders possess.

The “lavish life” enjoyed by East Germany’s party leaders, as widely publicized in the U.S. press, included a $725 yearly allowance in hard currency, and housing in an exclusive settlement on the outskirts of Berlin that sported a sauna, an indoor pool, and a fitness center shared by all the residents. They also could shop in stores that carried Western goods such as bananas, jeans, and Japanese electronics. The U.S. press never pointed out that ordinary East Germans had access to public pools and gyms and could buy jeans and electronics (though usually not of the imported variety). Nor was the “lavish” consumption enjoyed by East German leaders contrasted to the truly opulent life style enjoyed by the Western plutocracy.

Second, in communist countries, productive forces were not organized for capital gain and private enrichment; public ownership of the means of production supplanted private ownership. Individuals could not hire other people and accumulate great personal wealth from their labor. Again, compared to Western standards, differences in earnings and savings among the populace were generally modest. The income spread between highest and lowest earners in the Soviet Union was about five to one. In the United States, the spread in yearly income between the top multibillionaires and the working poor is more like 10,000 to 1.

Third, priority was placed on human services. Though life under communism left a lot to be desired and the services themselves were rarely the best, communist countries did guarantee their citizens some minimal standard of economic survival and security, including guaranteed education, employment, housing, and medical assistance.

Fourth, communist countries did not pursue the capital penetration of other countries. Lacking a profit motive as their motor force and therefore having no need to constantly find new investment opportunities, they did not expropriate the lands, labor, markets, and natural resources of weaker nations, that is, they did not practice economic imperialism. The Soviet Union conducted trade and aid relations on terms that generally were favorable to the Eastern European nations and Mongolia, Cuba, and India.

All of the above were organizing principles for every communist system to one degree or another. None of the above apply to free market countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Thailand, South Korea, Chile, Indonesia, Zaire, Germany, or the United States.

But a real socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this “pure socialism” view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

The pure socialists’ ideological anticipations remain untainted by existing practice. They do not explain how the manifold functions of a revolutionary society would be organized, how external attack and internal sabotage would be thwarted, how bureaucracy would be avoided, scarce resources allocated, policy differences settled, priorities set, and production and distribution conducted. Instead, they offer vague statements about how the workers themselves will directly own and control the means of production and will arrive at their own solutions through creative struggle. No surprise then that the pure socialists support every revolution except the ones that succeed.

The pure socialists had a vision of a new society that would create and be created by new people, a society so transformed in its fundamentals as to leave little room for wrongful acts, corruption, and criminal abuses of state power. There would be no bureaucracy or self-interested coteries, no ruthless conflicts or hurtful decisions. When the reality proves different and more difficult, some on the Left proceed to condemn the real thing and announce that they “feel betrayed” by this or that revolution.

The pure socialists see socialism as an ideal that was tarnished by communist venality, duplicity, and power cravings. The pure socialists oppose the Soviet model but offer little evidence to demonstrate that other paths could have been taken, that other models of socialism–not created from one’s imagination but developed through actual historical experience–could have taken hold and worked better. Was an open, pluralistic, democratic socialism actually possible at this historic juncture? The historical evidence would suggest it was not. As the political philosopher Carl Shames argued:

How do [the left critics] know that the fundamental problem was the “nature” of the ruling [revolutionary] parties rather than, say, the global concentration of capital that is destroying all independent economies and putting an end to national sovereignty everywhere? And to the extent that it was, where did this “nature” come from? Was this “nature” disembodied, disconnected from the fabric of the society itself, from the social relations impacting on it? . . . Thousands of examples could be found in which the centralization of power was a necessary choice in securing and protecting socialist relations. In my observation [of existing communist societies], the positive of “socialism” and the negative of “bureaucracy, authoritarianism and tyranny” interpenetrated in virtually every sphere of life. (Carl Shames, correspondence to me, 1/15/92.)

The pure socialists regularly blame the Left itself for every defeat it suffers. Their second-guessing is endless. So we hear that revolutionary struggles fail because their leaders wait too long or act too soon, are too timid or too impulsive, too stubborn or too easily swayed. We hear that revolutionary leaders are compromising or adventuristic, bureaucratic or opportunistic, rigidly organized or insufficiently organized, undemocratic or failing to provide strong leadership. But always the leaders fail because they do not put their trust in the “direct actions” of the workers, who apparently would withstand and overcome every adversity if only given the kind of leadership available from the left critic’s own groupuscule. Unfortunately, the critics seem unable to apply their own leadership genius to producing a successful revolutionary movement in their own country.

Tony Febbo questioned this blame-the-leadership syndrome of the pure socialists:

It occurs to me that when people as smart, different, dedicated and heroic as Lenin, Mao, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Ho Chi Minh and Robert Mugabe–and the millions of heroic people who followed and fought with them–all end up more or less in the same place, then something bigger is at work than who made what decision at what meeting. Or even what size houses they went home to after the meeting. . . .

These leaders weren’t in a vacuum. They were in a whirlwind. And the suction, the force, the power that was twirling them around has spun and left this globe mangled for more than 900 years. And to blame this or that theory or this or that leader is a simple-minded substitute for the kind of analysis that Marxists [should make]. (Guardian, 11/13/91)

To be sure, the pure socialists are not entirely without specific agendas for building the revolution. After the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, an ultra-left group in that country called for direct worker ownership of the factories. The armed workers would take control of production without benefit of managers, state planners, bureaucrats, or a formal military. While undeniably appealing, this worker syndicalism denies the necessities of state power. Under such an arrangement, the Nicaraguan revolution would not have lasted two months against the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolution that savaged the country. It would have been unable to mobilize enough resources to field an army, take security measures, or build and coordinate economic programs and human services on a national scale.

Decentralization vs. Survival

For a people’s revolution to survive, it must seize state power and use it to (a) break the stranglehold exercised by the owning class over the society’s institutions and resources, and (b) withstand the reactionary counterattack that is sure to come. The internal and external dangers a revolution faces necessitate a centralized state power that is not particularly to anyone’s liking, not in Soviet Russia in 1917, nor in Sandinista Nicaragua in 1980.

Engels offers an apposite account of an uprising in Spain in 1872-73 in which anarchists seized power in municipalities across the country. At first, the situation looked promising. The king had abdicated and the bourgeois government could muster but a few thousand ill-trained troops. Yet this ragtag force prevailed because it faced a thoroughly parochialized rebellion. “Each town proclaimed itself as a sovereign canton and set up a revolutionary committee (junta),” Engels writes. “[E]ach town acted on its own, declaring that the important thing was not cooperation with other towns but separation from them, thus precluding any possibility of a combined attack [against bourgeois forces].” It was “the fragmentation and isolation of the revolutionary forces which enabled the government troops to smash one revolt after the other.”

Decentralized parochial autonomy is the graveyard of insurgency–which may be one reason why there has never been a successful anarcho-syndicalist revolution. Ideally, it would be a fine thing to have only local, self-directed, worker participation, with minimal bureaucracy, police, and military. This probably would be the development of socialism, were socialism ever allowed to develop unhindered by counterrevolutionary subversion and attack. One might recall how, in 1918-20, fourteen capitalist nations, including the United States, invaded Soviet Russia in a bloody but unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the revolutionary Bolshevik government. The years of foreign invasion and civil war did much to intensify the Bolsheviks’ siege psychology with its commitment to lockstep party unity and a repressive security apparatus. Thus, in May 1921, the same Lenin who had encouraged the practice of internal party democracy and struggled against Trotsky in order to give the trade unions a greater measure of autonomy, now called for an end to the Workers’ Opposition and other factional groups within the party. “The time has come,” he told an enthusiastically concurring Tenth Party Congress, “to put an end to opposition, to put a lid on it: we have had enough opposition.” Open disputes and conflicting tendencies within and without the party, the communists concluded, created an appearance of division and weakness that invited attack by formidable foes.

Only a month earlier, in April 1921, Lenin had called for more worker representation on the party’s Central Committee. In short, he had become not anti-worker but anti-opposition. Here was a social revolution–like every other–that was not allowed to develop its political and material life in an unhindered way.

By the late 1920s, the Soviets faced the choice of (a) moving in a still more centralized direction with a command economy and forced agrarian collectivization and full-speed industrialization under a commandist, autocratic party leadership, the road taken by Stalin, or (b) moving in a liberalized direction, allowing more political diversity, more autonomy for labor unions and other organizations, more open debate and criticism, greater autonomy among the various Soviet republics, a sector of privately owned small businesses, independent agricultural development by the peasantry, greater emphasis on consumer goods, and less effort given to the kind of capital accumulation needed to build a strong military-industrial base.

The latter course, I believe, would have produced a more comfortable, more humane and serviceable society. Siege socialism would have given way to worker-consumer socialism. The only problem is that the country would have risked being incapable of withstanding the Nazi onslaught. Instead, the Soviet Union embarked upon a rigorous, forced industrialization. This policy has often been mentioned as one of the wrongs perpetrated by Stalin upon his people. It consisted mostly of building, within a decade, an entirely new, huge industrial base east of the Urals in the middle of the barren steppes, the biggest steel complex in Europe, in anticipation of an invasion from the West. “Money was spent like water, men froze, hungered and suffered but the construction went on with a disregard for individuals and a mass heroism seldom paralleled in history.”

Stalin’s prophecy that the Soviet Union had only ten years to do what the British had done in a century proved correct. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, that same industrial base, safely ensconced thousands of miles from the front, produced the weapons of war that eventually turned the tide. The cost of this survival included 22 million Soviets who perished in the war and immeasurable devastation and suffering, the effects of which would distort Soviet society for decades afterward.

All this is not to say that everything Stalin did was of historical necessity. The exigencies of revolutionary survival did not “make inevitable” the heartless execution of hundreds of Old Bolshevik leaders, the personality cult of a supreme leader who claimed every revolutionary gain as his own achievement, the suppression of party political life through terror, the eventual silencing of debate regarding the pace of industrialization and collectivization, the ideological regulation of all intellectual and cultural life, and the mass deportations of “suspect” nationalities.

The transforming effects of counterrevolutionary attack have been felt in other countries. A Sandinista military officer I met in Vienna in 1986 noted that Nicaraguans were “not a warrior people” but they had to learn to fight because they faced a destructive, U.S.-sponsored mercenary war. She bemoaned the fact that war and embargo forced her country to postpone much of its socio-economic agenda. As with Nicaragua, so with Mozambique, Angola and numerous other countries in which U.S.-financed mercenary forces destroyed farmlands, villages, health centers, and power stations, while killing or starving hundreds of thousands–the revolutionary baby was strangled in its crib or mercilessly bled beyond recognition. This reality ought to earn at least as much recognition as the suppression of dissidents in this or that revolutionary society.

The overthrow of Eastern European and Soviet communist governments was cheered by many left intellectuals. Now democracy would have its day. The people would be free from the yoke of communism and the U.S. Left would be free from the albatross of existing communism, or as left theorist Richard Lichtman put it, “liberated from the incubus of the Soviet Union and the succubus of Communist China.”

In fact, the capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe seriously weakened the numerous Third World liberation struggles that had received aid from the Soviet Union and brought a whole new crop of right-wing governments into existence, ones that now worked hand-in-glove with U.S. global counterrevolutionaries around the globe.

In addition, the overthrow of communism gave the green light to the unbridled exploitative impulses of Western corporate interests. No longer needing to convince workers that they live better than their counterparts in Russia, no longer restrained by a competing system, the corporate class is rolling back the many gains that working people have won over the years. Now that the free market, in its meanest form, is emerging triumphant in the East, so will it prevail in the West. “Capitalism with a human face” is being replaced by “capitalism in your face.” As Richard Levins put it, “So in the new exuberant aggressiveness of world capitalism we see what communists and their allies had held at bay” (Monthly Review, 9/96).

Having never understood the role that existing communist powers played in tempering the worst impulses of Western capitalism, and having perceived communism as nothing but an unmitigated evil, the left anticommunists did not anticipate the losses that were to come. Some of them still don’t get it.

North Korea or the United States: Who is a Threat to Global Security?

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North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of US led bombings in the 1950s.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Most people in America consider North Korea as an inherently aggressive nation and a threat to global security.

Media disinformation sustains North Korea as a “rogue state”.

The history of the Korean war and its devastating consequences are rarely mentioned. America is portrayed as the victim rather than the aggressor.

North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of US led bombings in the 1950s. 

US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s  population was killed off over a three year period of intensive bombings:

“After destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, [General] LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”

It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerence of another.” (See War Veteran Brian Willson. Korea and the Axis of Evil, Global Research, April, 2002)

Official South Korean government sources estimate North Korean civilian deaths at 1,550,000

Long lines of refugees fleeing from Yongdong on 26 July 1950. The day before, hundreds of refugees were massacred by U.S. soldiers and warplanes at bridge at No Gun Ri, eight miles away.

Long lines of refugees fleeing from Yongdong on 26 July 1950. The day before, hundreds of refugees were massacred by U.S. soldiers and warplanes at bridge at No Gun Ri, eight miles away.

During The Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the US lost 0.32%.

During the Korean war, North Korea lost 30 % of its population. In the words of General Curtis Lemay:

There are no innocent civilians. It is their government and you are fighting a people, you are not trying to fight an armed force anymore. So it doesn’t bother me so much to be killing the so-called innocent bystanders. (emphasis added)

Reflect for a few minutes on these figures:  If a foreign power had bombed the US and America had lost thirty percent of its population as result of foreign aggression, Americans across the land would certainly be aware of the threat to their national security emanating from this unnamed foreign power.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the North Koreans, who lost 30 percent of their population as a result of 37 months of relentless US bombings.

From their standpoint, the US is the threat to Global Security.

Their country was destroyed. Town and villages were bombed. General Curtis Lemay acknowledges that “[we] eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, someway or another, and some in South Korea too.”

There is not a single family in North Korea which has not lost a loved one.

Everyone I talked with, dozens and dozens of folks, lost one if not many more family members during the war, especially from the continuous bombing, much of it incendiary and napalm, deliberately dropped on virtually every space in the country. “Every means of communication, every installation, factory, city, and village” was ordered bombed by General MacArthur in the fall of 1950. It never stopped until the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953. (See War Veteran Brian Willson. Korea and the Axis of Evil, Global Research, April, 2002)

pyongyang

For the people of North Korea, in their inner consciousness as human beings, the aggressor, which inflicted more than two million deaths on a country of  8-9 million (1950s) is the United States of America.

These facts continue to be concealed by the Western media to sustain the “Axis of Evil” legend, which portrays North Korea as a threat and “rogue state”, to be condemned by the “international community”.

Genocide is defined under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) as the

“the deliberate and systematic destruction of, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”. Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

What is at stake is an act of genocide committed by the US. During the Korean War an entire civilian population was the target of deliberate and relentless bombings, with a view to destroying and killing a national group, which constitutes an act of genocide under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Source

Statistics on Crimes Committed by US Troops in South Korea

Korea International War Crimes Tribunal, June 23, 2001, New York
Report on US Crimes in Korea 1945-2001

Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea

Over 100,000 Cases of Crimes, Over 100,000 Victims

Crimes committed by US soldiers were found as early as when US troops were first stationed in south Korea. According to the south Korean government’s official statistics, 50,082 crimes were committed by US soldiers from 1967 to 1998 (including those by soldiers’ families), and 56,904 US soldiers were involved (including soldiers’ families) in these crimes. The statistics imply that the actual figure may be higher if take into account those cases not handled by the south Korean police. Based on the statistics, the total number of crimes committed by US soldiers since September 8, 1945 (when they were first stationed in Korea) is estimated to be around 100,000. Unfortunately the south Korean government does not have statistics on US soldiers’ crimes committed before 1967, because SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) went into effect in 1967, allowing the south Korean court jurisdiction over crimes committed by US soldiers with narrow and limited application.

So, from 1945 to 1967, the US had full authority in court. south Koreans were even subjected to American rulings (of course, in English language). And during 1945-1948, when the US military government took control over the south Korean government, a judge was an active US soldier, with no jury system although the court followed American court system. Many problems aroused including language barrier, lack of cultural understanding and even prejudice on the part of the judge, unfair practices on the part of interpreters.

Study by Ministry of Justice of south Korea shows that among the 39,452 cases (45,183 US soldiers involved) of crimes committed by US soldiers from 1967 to 1987, south Korea was able to exercise its jurisdiction only in 234 cases, punishing only 351 US soldiers. Among them, 84 US soldiers were convicted of rape and 89 US soldiers were convicted of murder and robbery. Taking into account the fact that rape cases were more common before 1967, and that many rape cases were intentionally hidden and forgotten, the actual number of rape cases committed by US soldiers will be much higher than what official figures suggest.

1980, the year of civilian uprising in Kwangju alone, over 1,679 crimes committed by US soldiers were reported.

Due to the military dictator, Chun Doo Hwan’s martial law at the time, south Korea lost its jurisdiction that year. Not even a single case was handled in south Korean court.

Countless cases of rape were committed by US soldiers, including a woman gang raped by 4 soldiers’ in March 1946, a 14-year-old schoolgirl raped in 1956, a daughter and a mother both raped in 1967, a woman raped by 8 soldiers in the mountains in 1971, a month pregnant teacher raped in 1986 by 5 soldiers in the middle of Team Spirit military exercise, a handicapped schoolgirl sexually harassed in 1996, and a 6-year-old girl sexually harassed in May 1997.

Gregory Henderson, who served at the US embassy in Seoul in the 1950s and 1960s, recalls in his thesis ‘politically dangerous factors in US troops exercising operation & control right in Korea’:

” … Every US soldier from officer down enjoys material indulgence in Korea. Material indulgence includes abundant supply of fresh bodies of young local women.”

Earnst W. Carston, a former chaplain in US military camp in Korea, also harshly criticized US soldiers in his report to the US government in October 1964: “90% of US soldiers in Korea lead immoral sex lives. On being stationed to their posts, a soldier indulges in illegal sex with prostitutes, and when returning to the US, he sells off the woman, her house, and furniture to the new arrival”.

, in its June 10th 1971 edition, quoted a high-ranking military officer as saying “around 2 million foreign soldiers stayed in south Korea since the Korean war, among which 70% were venereal diseases patients as well as drug addicts”.

Robert Oliver, an American adviser to former south Korean President Rhee Seong-man, once said that 2,000 US soldiers out of total 30,000 stationed in Korea were from poor class. Also, Kevin Heldman, an American freelancer writer, wrote on the Internet in September 1997 that US troops in Korea are potential criminals and losers had they stayed in the US society.

Although above comments seem to lay a blame on those less-educated soldiers from poor family background for the crimes, the crime report shows that it is the officers who are very often commit rape and robbery by faking marriages before secretly returning to the US. There is no official statistics on fake marriages, mainly because victims do not want it reported.

Long Over Stay of US Troops and Their Operation & Control Rights over south Korean military

The first 3-year history of US military government control in south Korea was not based on a mutual friendship between peoples of the two countries. Rather it was based on a cozy relationship between the two governments. Such circumstances have not changed much since then. For example, US military that withdrew after 3 years of government control in south Korea came back during the Korean war to ‘take away’ operation & control rights from the south Korean army on July 15th 1950. In October 1953, immediately after the war, the US introduced Korea-US Defense Alliance Treaty, which allowed long-term stay of the US troops in south Korea. This treaty effectively gave the US a virtual full control over the south Korea’s political, military, and economic power.

In the light of such lopsided treaty which practically handed over a nation’s sovereign rights and the eventual political, military and economical subjugation to US mighty power, it becomes easy to see why such US soldiers crimes are committed easily in south Korea.

No other place in the world, does the US soldiers enjoy such immunity over the crimes they perpetuate.

I t is reported that US troops stationed in Okinawa, Japan, called the local prostitutes ‘Yellow Stool’. It is not only humiliating to Japan, but also to Korea as well. Such word is a good indicator of how US soldiers look at the local people.

Even to these days, when they are subjected to south Korean police investigation, US soldiers frequently say “how dare you Koreans treat an American soldier like this’.

Their debased superiority often comes from the years long of propaganda from US and south Korean governments asserting that it is the US, liberated south Korea from the hands of communist north Korea and without them, north Korea will invade the south Korea right away.

Moreover, the unique military arrangement in which the visiting force, the US controls the operational command over the south Korean military and it’s own general serving as a Joint Chief of Staff of the combined army, only exacerbates the unfair situation.

Although many of the past US Secretaries of Defense have repeatedly stated that it is US’s own interest to have the soldiers stationed in south Korea, and that US troops will remain in south Korea even after the reunification of Korea, many US soldiers still believe that they are in south Korea to fight the cold war.

On sex slavery issue, a Dutch military court in 1946 convicted those who were responsible for rape against minority women. Also in 1995, when three US soldiers gang raped a schoolgirl in Okinawa, Japan, local residents demanded and received an official apology from US President Bill Clinton, US ambassador to Japan, and US military chief. All these are unimaginable in south Korea.

Such stark difference between situations in south Korea, Japan and the Netherlands illustrates international power structure among the nations.

Statistics from south Korean government shows visible drop in the number of crimes committed by US soldiers, from 1967 to 1991, 1,100 – 2,300 crimes were committed per year and from 1992, the number dropped to 700-800 cases per year.

Such improvement was possible because of high-profile murder case of Yoon Kum-i by US soldier Kenneth Markle in October 1992. The cold blooded torture/murder case brought public conscience to the “crimes committed by US troops”. The Movement to Eradicate Crimes Committed by US Soldiers was formed as a result.

However, the south Korean government still exercises very limited jurisdiction over such crimes.

In 1998, Korea handled only 3.9% of all crimes committed by US soldiers.(and 24.6% of crimes by soldiers’ families)

Source

The Costs of Counterrevolution: Must We Ignore Imperialism?

excerpted from the book

The Sword and the Dollar

Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race

by Michael Parenti

St. Martin’s Press, 1989

The Costs of Counterrevolution

p 117

Throughout the 1980s, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries who have waged war against such countries as Nicaragua, Angola, and Mozambique, were described as “guerrillas.” In fact, they won little support from the people of those countries, which explains why they remained so utterly dependent upon aid from the United States and South Africa. In an attempt to destroy the revolutionary economy and thus increase popular distress and discontent, these counterrevolutionaries attacked farms, health workers, technicians, schools, and civilians. Unlike a guerrilla army that works with and draws support from the people, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries kidnap, rape, kill and in other ways terrorize the civilian population. These tactics have been termed “self-defeating,” but they have a logic symptomatic of the underlying class politics. Since the intent of the counterrevolutionaries is to destroy the revolution, and since the bulk of the people support the revolution, then the mercenaries target the people.

In Mozambique, for example, over a period of eight years the South African-financed rebels laid waste to croplands, reducing the nation’s cereal production enough to put almost 4 million people in danger of starvation. The rebels destroyed factories, rail and road links, and marketing posts, causing a sharp drop in Mozambique’s production and exports. They destroyed 40 percent of the rural schools and over 500 of the 1,222 rural health clinics built by the Marxist government. And they killed hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children. But they set up no “liberated” areas and introduced no program for the country; nor did they purport to have any ideology or social goals.

Likewise, the mercenary rebel force in Angola, financially supported throughout the 1980s by the apartheid regime in South Africa and looked favorably upon by the Reagan administration, devastated much of the Angolan economy, kidnapping and killing innocent civilians, displacing about 600,000 persons and causing widespread hunger and malnutrition. Assisted by White South African troops, the rebels destroyed at least half of Angola’s hospitals and clinics. White South African military forces, aided by jet fighters, engaged in direct combat on the side of the counterrevolutionaries. The rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, offered no social program for Angola but was lavish in his praise of the apartheid rulers in Pretoria and critical of Black South African leaders.

So with the contra forces that repeatedly attacked Nicaragua from Honduras for some seven years. In all that time they were unable to secure a “liberated” zone nor any substantial support from the people. They represented a mercenary army that amounted to nothing much without US money-and nothing much with it, having failed to launch a significant military offensive for years at a time. Like other counterrevolutionary “guerrillas” they were quite good at trying to destabilize the existing system by hitting soft targets like schools and farm cooperatives and killing large numbers of civilians, including children. (While the US news media unfailingly reported that the Nicaraguans or Cubans had “Soviet-made weapons,” they said nothing about the American, British, and Israeli arms used by counterrevolutionaries to kill Angolans, Namibians, Black South Africans, Western Saharans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans.)

Like counterrevolutionaries in other countries, the Nicaraguan contras put forth no economic innovations or social programs other than some vague slogans. As the New York Times reported, when asked about “the importance of political action in the insurgency” the contra leaders “did not seem to assign this element of revolutionary warfare a high priority.” They did not because they were not waging a “revolution” but a counterrevolution. What kind of a program can counterrevolutionaries present? If they publicize their real agenda, which is to open the country once more to the domination of foreign investors and rich owners, they would reveal their imperialist hand.

p 120

Like most of the Third World, Nicaragua during the Somoza dictatorship was one of imperialism’s ecological disasters, with its unrestricted industrial and agribusiness pollution and deforestation. Upon coming to power, the Sandinistas initiated rain forest and wildlife conservation measures and alternative energy programs. The new government also adopted methods of cutting pesticides to a minimum, prohibiting the use of the deadlier organochlorides commonly applied in other countries. Nicaragua’s environmental efforts stand in marked contrast to its neighboring states. But throughout the 1980s, the program was severely hampered by contra attacks that killed more than thirty employees of Nicaragua’s environmental and state forestry agencies, and destroyed agricultural centers and reclamation projects.

p 121

The US government is ready to accept just about anyone who emigrates from a Communist country. In contrast, the hundreds of millions of Third World refugees from capitalism, who would like to come to this country because the conditions of their lives are so hopeless, are not allowed to come in …

*

Must We Ignore Imperialism?

p 128

Woodrow Wilson, 1907

Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

p 129

Ronald Reagan
What I want to see above all else is that this country remains a country where someone can always be rich. That’s the thing we have that must be preserved.

p 129

Jeff McMahan

U.S. reasons for wanting to control the third world are to some extent circular. Thus third world resources are required in part to guarantee military production, and increased military production is required in part to maintain and expand U.S. control over third world resources …. Instrumental goals eventually come to be seen as ends in themselves. Initially the pursuit of overseas bases is justified by the need to maintain stability, defend friendly countries from communist aggression, and so on-in other words, to subjugate and control the third world; but eventually the need to establish and maintain overseas bases becomes one of the reasons for wanting to subjugate and control the third world.

p 131

Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970 about Chile

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.

*  *  *  *

p 196

The people who make US foreign policy are known to us-and they are well known to each other. Top policymakers and advisors are drawn predominantly from the major corporations and from policy groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee for Economic Development, the Trilateral Commission, the Business Roundtable, and the Business Council. Membership in these groups consists of financiers, business executives, and corporate lawyers. Some also have a sprinkling of foundation directors, news editors, university presidents, and academicians.

Most prominent is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Incorporated in 1921, the CFR numbered among its founders big financiers such as John D. Rockefeller, Nelson Aldrich, and J. P. Morgan. Since World War II, CFR members have included David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (and erstwhile CFR president); Allen Dulles, Wall Street lawyer and longtime director of the CIA; and, in the 1970s, all the directors of Morgan Guaranty Trust; nine directors of Banker’s Trust; five directors of Tri-Continental holding company; eight directors of Chase Manhattan; and directors from each of the following: Mellon National Bank, Bank of America, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Standard Oil of New Jersey, General Electric, General Dynamics, Union Carbide, IBM, AT&T, ITT, and the New York Times (a partial listing).

One member of the Kennedy administration, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., described the decision-making establishment as “an arsenal of talent which had so long furnished a steady supply of always orthodox and often able people to Democratic as well as Republican administrations. 115 President Kennedy’s secretary of state was Dean Rusk, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and member of the CFR; his secretary of defense was Robert McNamara, president of Ford Motor Company; his secretary of the treasury was C. Douglas Dillon, head of a prominent Wall Street banking firm and member of the CFR. Nixon’s secretary of state was Henry Kissinger, a Nelson Rockefeller protégé who also served as President Ford’s secretary of state. Ford appointed fourteen CFR members to his administration. Seventeen top members of Carter’s administration were participants of the Rockefeller-created Trilateral Commission, including Carter himself and Vice President Walter Mondale. Carter’s secretary of state was Cyrus Vance, Wall Street lawyer, director of several corporations, trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and member of the CFR.

Reagan’s first secretary of state was Alexander Haig, former general and aide to President Nixon, president of United Technologies, director of several corporations including Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, and member of the CFR. Reagan’s next secretary of state was George Shultz, president of Bechtel Corporation, director of Morgan Guaranty Trust, director of the CFR, and advisor of the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Reagan’s secretary of defense was Caspar Weinberger, vice president of Bechtel, director of other large corporations, and member of the Trilateral Commission. The secretary of treasury and later chief of staff was Donald Regan, chief executive officer of Merrill, Lynch, trustee of the CED, member of the CFR and of the Business Roundtable. Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, was director of the ExportImport Bank, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Nixon, and partner in a prominent Wall Street law firm. At least a dozen of Reagan’s top administrators and some thirty advisors were CFR members.

Members of groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission have served in just about every top executive position, including most cabinet and subcabinet slots, and have at times virtually monopolized the membership of the National Security Council, the nation’s highest official policymaking body.’ The reader can decide whether they compose (1) a conspiratorial elite, (2) the politically active members of a ruling class, or (3) a selection of policy experts and specialists in the service of pluralistic democracy.

These policymakers are drawn from overlapping corporate circles and policy groups that have a capacity unmatched by any other interest groups in the United States to fill top government posts with persons from their ranks. While supposedly selected to serve in government because they are experts and specialists, they really are usually amateurs and “generalists.” Being president of a giant construction firm and director of a bank did not qualify George Shultz to be Nixon’s secretary of labor nor his secretary of the treasury. Nor did Shultz bring years of expert experience in foreign affairs to his subsequent position as Reagan’s secretary of state. But he did bring a proven capacity to serve well the common interests of corporate America.

Rather than acting as special-interest lobbies for particular firms, policy groups look after the class-wide concerns of the capitalist system. This is in keeping with the function of the capitalist state itself. While not indifferent to the fate of the overseas operations of particular US firms, the state’s primary task is to protect capitalism as a system, bolstering client states and opposing revolutionary or radically reformist ones.

p 200

Far from being powerless, the pressure of democratic opinion in this country and abroad has been about the only thing that has restrained US leaders from using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and intervening with US forces in Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. How best to pursue policies that lack popular support is a constant preoccupation of White House policymakers. President Reagan’s refusal to negotiate with the Soviets in the early 1980s provoked the largest peace demonstrations in the history of the United States. Eventually he had to offer an appearance of peace by agreeing to negotiate. To give this appearance credibility, he actually had to negotiate and even reluctantly arrive at unavoidable agreement on some issues, including the 1987 INF treaty.

Evidence of the importance of mass democratic opinion is found in the remarkable fact that the United States has not invaded Nicaragua. Even though the US had a firepower and striking force many times more powerful than the ones used in the previous eleven invasions of Nicaragua, and a president (Reagan) more eager than any previous president to invade, the invasion did not happen. Not because it would have been too costly in lives but because it would have been politically too costly. President Reagan would not have balked at killing tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and losing say 5,000 Americans to smash the Red Menace in Central America. When 241 Marines were blown away in one afternoon in Lebanon, Reagan was ready to escalate his involvement in that country. Only the pressure of democratic forces in the USA and elsewhere caused him to leave Lebanon and refrain from invading Nicaragua. He did not have the political support to do otherwise. Invasion was politically too costly because it was militarily too costly even though logistically possible. It would have caused too much of an uproar at home and throughout Latin America and would have lost him, his party, and his policies too much support.

p 203

The policies pursued by US leaders have delivered misfortune upon countless innocents, generating wrongs more horrendous than any they allegedly combat. The people of this country and other nations are becoming increasingly aware of this. The people know that nuclear weapons bring no security to anyone and that interventions on the side of privileged autocracies and reactionary governments bring no justice. They also seem to know that they pay most of the costs of the arms race and many of the costs of imperialism. From South Korea to South Africa, from Central America to the Western Sahara, from Europe to North America, people are fighting back, some because they have no choice, others because they would choose no other course but the one that leads to peace and justice.

Source

DPRK celebrates centennial of Kim Il-Sung’s birth

PYONGYANG, April 15 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is carrying out a great military parade here on Sunday morning to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding leader Kim Il Sung.

In a speech delivered at the grand event, DPRK leader Kim Jong Un lauded the historic contributions to the DPRK’s development by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong IL, and offered the highest respect and honor to the two late leaders.

Noting that the country is facing a momentous opportunity, Kim Jong Un called upon the whole nation to stick to the path blazed by his predecessors and strive for new victories.

Tens of thousands of people attended the ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang. A march-past of more than 30 phalanxes of military forces is under way amid thunderous cheers and clangorous music.

The ongoing military parade is one of the many activities planned to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, who passed away in 1994.

Days ago, Kim Jong Un became first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission and first chairman of the National Defence Commission.

Source

Kim Jun Un (C), supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), attends a national meeting celebrating the centenary of birth of President Kim Il Sung at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang, capital of DPRK, on April 14, 2012. (Xinhua/Zhang Li)

DPRK holds national meeting celebrating centenary birthday of Kim Il Sung

PYONGYANG, April 14 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a national meeting at Kim Il Sung Stadium here Saturday to celebrate the centenary birthday of the country’s founder Kim Il Sung.

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), first chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) was among those present.

Addressing the meeting, Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK said Kim Il Sung built socialism centered on the popular masses, and put forth fair, aboveboard and reasonable reunification proposals, including the three principles of national reunification, and provided a new program for achieving great national unity.

“Kim Il Jung set forth outstanding ideas, strategies and tactics on global independence and made an undying contribution to the socialist movement,” he said, adding he made a great contribution to accomplishing the cause of independence against imperialism “with his superb diplomatic strategy and energetic external activities.”

Similar meetings took place in all provinces, cities, counties and industrial complexes.

Kim Il Sung was born on April 15, 1912 and died on July 8, 1994.

Source

Kim Jong Un orders mass of promotions in army

PYONGYANG, April 14 (Xinhua) — Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), has ordered promotions for 71 senior military officers, official news agency KCNA reported Saturday.

Kim said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea armed forces had performed great exploits for the party, revolution, country and its people and were now fully demonstrating their strength in the defense of the country and the building of a thriving nation, the report said.

According to the order, which was issued Friday, Pak Sun Hwan has been promoted to Lieut. General, Kim Yong Hwa, Son Kyong Bok and 68 others to Maj. General.

Kim said they would creditably discharge their duties as vanguard fighters of the Songun (military first) revolution in the sacred struggle to accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche generation after generation, true to the behests of Kim Jong Il.

Juche is a political thesis of Kim Il-sung, founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which says that the Korean masses are the masters of the country’s development.

Kim Jong Un was elected first chairman of the National Defense Commission on Friday. Earlier this week, he was appointed first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission.

Source

DPRK holds parade to mark founder’s 100th brithday

BEIJING, April 15 (Xinhuanet) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has started a military parade to celebrate the 100th birthday of founding leader Kim Il Sung. This parade is the largest since the foundation of DPRK 64 years ago. Now let’s take a look at some live pictures in Pyong-yang.

The parade is organised by DPRK’s 1.1 million-strong military, the Korean People’s Army. The huge parade showcasing Pyongyang’s military hardware was originally scheduled for April 25. It has been brought up 10 days earlier, coinciding with the country’s founder’s birthday.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s new leader underlined the country’s “military first” policy with a budget that allocates a sizable chunk of funding to defence spending. The parade comes two days after a controversial satellite launch, which DPRK insists is for entirely peaceful purposes.

On Friday, 200,000 people rallied to mark the unveiling of huge bronze statues of the two late leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, the capital. Olive-uniformed soldiers, women in colorful hanbok gowns and men in dark-grey suits packed Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang, while Pyongyang people seem to be consumed by the festive mood.

Pyongyang is set to host scores of diplomatic and media delegations, invited to a series of celebrations on an “unprecedented” scale to commemorate the reclusive state’s late leaders and rally.

Source

Media on North Korea

This article gathers and sources statements on the recent developments in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea. As always, a re-posting of these analyses does not imply an absolute endorsement of them.

— Espresso Stalinist

“The US and the west have been virtually proved wrong on all major issue of North Korea and the Kims. […] It has been terming the regime as Communist and Marxist-Leninist, though Marxism-Leninism has been replaced by Juche ideology and all reference to Communism and Marxism-Leninism have been removed from the constitution as well as the national governance. Yet by claiming the regime to be communist – gives the imperialist powers a sinful pleasure and credibility to put all what is happening in DPRK to the vice called Marxism.”

http://otheraspect.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/kim-jong-il-dies-son-rises/

“It is true that food shortages have plagued the country. But the vilifying Kim obituaries don’t mention why North Koreans are hungry. The answer is sanctions. US foreign policy, like that of the Allied powers in WWI toward Germany, has been to starve its adversary into submission. This isn’t acknowledged, for obvious reasons. First, it would reveal the inhumane lengths to which US foreign policy is prepared to reach to secure its goals. And second, North Korean hunger must be used to discredit public ownership and a central planning as a workable economic model. North Koreans are hungry, the anti-Communist myth goes, because socialism doesn’t work. The truth of the matter is that North Koreans are hungry because Washington has made them so. Not surprisingly, calls by humanitarian groups for the United States to deliver food aid are being brushed aside with a litany of bizarre excuses, the latest being that food aid can’t be delivered because Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-eun, has succeeded him. Huh? The real reason food aid won’t be delivered is because it would contradict US foreign policy. The United States once considered the death of half a million Iraqi children “worth it”. Its leaders would consider the sanctions-produced demise through starvation of as many North Koreans worth it, as well.”

 — Kim Jong-il’s Death is a Danger for North Korea, not its Neighbors

“THE tyrant has perished, leaving a failing, nuclear-armed nation in the uncertain young hands of his “Great Successor”. His father, since 1994 the “Dear Leader” of one of the world’s most secretive and repressive states (iconic, to the right in the photo above), died on a train at 8.30am on Saturday morning, of a heart attack. North Korea’s 69-year-old supremo had been in poor health: he had heart disease and diabetes, and suffered a stroke in 2008. Nonetheless his demise places sudden and extraordinary pressure on his third son, his designated but untested successor, Kim Jong Un”

 — The Economist, in an article titled Dear Leader, Departed

“Called the ‘Dear Leader’ by his people, Kim Jong-il presided with an iron hand over a country he kept on the edge of starvation and collapse, fostering perhaps the last personality cult in the Communist world even as he banished citizens deemed disloyal to gulags or sent assassins after defectors.

He came to power after the death in 1994 of his father, Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder. His inheritance was an impoverished country with an uncertain place in a post-cold-war era. He played his one card, his nuclear weapons program, brilliantly, first defying efforts by the administration of George W. Bush to push his country over the brink, then exploiting America’s distraction with the war in Iraq to harvest enough nuclear fuel from his main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon to produce the fuel for six to eight weapons.”

 — The New York Times piece titled, A Ruler Who Turned North Korea Into a Nuclear State by David E. Sanger

“He was one of the most reclusive and widely condemned national leaders of the late 20th and early 21st century, and left his country diplomatically isolated, economically broken and divided from South Korea.

Unsurprisingly for a man who went into mourning for three years after the death in 1994 of his own father, the legendary leader Kim Il-sung, and who in the first 30 years of his political career made no public statements, even to his own people, Kim’s career is riddled with claims, counter-claims, speculation and contradiction.”

 — The Guardian

“Comrade Kim Jong Il was the most faithful, the most indefatigable and the most brilliant student of Korea’s greatest son, Comrade Kim Il Sung. It was he who took the President’s teachings of the Juche idea and the Songun idea and systematised them into a scientific programme for the revolutionary advance of the Korean people towards a great, prosperous and powerful nation.

…Comrade Kim Jong Il was modest and humble. He saw himself as a soldier and disciple of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and as a servant of the people. He devoted himself day and night, did his best, devoted his all, to the very last moment of his life, to his revolutionary work: to the defence and security of the country, to improving the people’s livelihood, and to the lofty goals and ideals of socialism and communism.”

 — Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) led by Harpal Barar

“There is little doubt that without Comrade Kim Jong Il leading the continued building of the DPRK as an impregnable fortress, capable of devastating retaliation on any who violate the peace, the DPRK would long since have fallen prey to the criminal aggression and wanton destruction of Anglo-American imperialism, a repeat of the Korean War of such bitter memory, wreaked upon other countries in recent times. This stand has inspired and will continue to inspire the struggling peoples of the world.

We are convinced that the Korean party and its leadership and the entire Korean people will turn their great grief into strength and march forward on the road of building a prosperous socialist country, sovereign and independent, and bring into being their cherished goal of reuniting the Korean nation by its own efforts, without outside interference. We, as they, will draw inspiration in our struggles from the heroic life and work of beloved Comrade Kim Jong Il.”

 — Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist) that follows the path of Hardial Bains

 

“Following Kim Il Sung’s footsteps Kim Jong Il led the Workers Party of Korea into the 21st century to build a strong and prosperous democratic republic. Kim Jong Il was a leading Marxist thinker who made an important contribution to the modern communist theory as well as an astute statesman who led the Korean people through thick and thin to overcome natural disasters, imperialist blockade and diplomatic isolation.

While ensuring the DPRK’s defence against the threats and provocations of US imperialism and its lackeys Kim Jong Il worked tirelessly to ease tension on the Korean peninsula to pave the way towards the peaceful reunification of Korea.”

 — New Communist Party of Britain

“Comrade Kim Jong Il led the country and the party during some of the most difficult times in the world’s history, combating the inhuman embargo imposed by the US and the resultant economic hardships. Till his end, he stood steadfast defending the principles of Marxism-Leninism and socialism. Carrying forward the legacy of the late Kim Il Sung and his theory of Juche, Kim Jong Il propounded the theory of the Shogun to suit the conditions of the country.”

 — Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Liberal Holocaust: Imperialism and the Democratic Party

This is a good article from a website that is now down. I disagree with several parts, particularly the labeling of North Korea as a “Stalinist dictatorship,” referring to the Soviet Union as an “empire,” saying that Titoite Yugoslavia was a “Leninist revolution” and denying the genocidal actions of the Milošević government. Regardless, this article makes a very important point about the Democratic Party, and exposes their true imperialist warmongering nature.

 — Espresso Stalinist 

Many people involved in US anti-war movement(s) have this naive belief that Democrats are not imperialists, that US imperialist policies, such as those pursued by the Bush administration, are just a recent deviation or limited to Republican administrations. In fact, the Democratic Party has a long and bloody history of imperialism. Democrats are imperialists and mass murderers. Nor is this limited to the more conservative democrats; left-liberals have done the same. Liberal governments have slaughtered millions.

Starting shortly before the end of World War Two, Democrats began recruiting many Nazi war criminals and using them to help expand the American Empire. Hitler’s intelligence chief in East Europe Reinhard Gehlen was used by the US, after the war, to build an intelligence network against the Soviets in East Europe. They also dropped supplies to remnants of Hitler’s armies operating in Eastern Europe, to harass the Soviet bloc. Other Nazi war criminals employed by the US included Klaus Barbie, Otto von Bolschwing and Otto Skorzeny. Some of these Nazis later made their way to Latin America, where they advised and assisted US-backed dictatorships in the area.

Harry Truman kicked up anti-communist hysteria, which lead to McCarthyism (which occurred during his administration) and helped start the Cold War. He supported numerous dictatorships, including Saudi Arabia. US involvement in Vietnam started under Truman with the US providing support for the French invaders and the CIA carrying out covert actions. In 1950 his administration issued the ultra-hawkish NSC 68. The subversion of Italian democracy was done by his administration – fearing electoral victory in 1948 by the Italian Communist party, the CIA funded various leftover Mussolinite Brownshirt thugs and other former Nazi collaborators, successfully manipulating the results to ensure pro-US candidates won. A secret paramilitary army was formed to overthrow the government just in case the Communists managed to win anyway.

In the years after World War Two a rebellion against the British puppet government in Greece broke out. This client state was largely staffed by former Nazi collaborators who the British had put back in power. The UK was unable to defeat the left-wing insurgency (which had previously fought an insurgency against the Nazi occupation during World War Two) and asked the US for help. In 1947 Truman invaded Greece and proceeded to crush the revolutionaries, keeping the former Nazi collaborators in power. Truman attempted to justify this by portraying the guerillas as mere pawns of Moscow and therefore a form of covert aggression, but he had no real proof of this. The claim is also based on a double standard: when the USSR (allegedly) covertly supports revolutionaries in another country it constitutes “aggression” and is wrong, but when the US (or UK) send actual military forces to another country in order to prop up unpopular dictatorships this is somehow perfectly just.

At the end of World War Two Japan withdrew its forces from Korea, resulting in a brief period of self-rule. A provisional government was set up in Seoul, but it had little power. Across Korea, workers took over their factories and peasants took over their land. Self-managed collectives were organized. This did not last long, as the US and USSR quickly partitioned the country into a North and a South, under the occupation of each power. In the south Truman installed a brutal military dictatorship, run mainly by former Japanese collaborators, complete with death squads, torture chambers and suppression of all opposition. The United States and its client state suppressed an insurgency, leveled whole villages and massacred thousands of innocent Koreans. The Soviets followed a similar policy in the north, where a Stalinist dictatorship was imposed. Forces from each empire repeatedly clashed until war broke out in 1950. Truman & his propagandists tried to portray the war as an attempt to defend South Korea from Soviet/Northern aggression, but the very existence of South & North Korea was the result of aggression by the US & USSR. The Korean War was an inter-imperialist war between rival empires fighting for territory, rather like a turf war between rival mafia dons, in which lots of ordinary people (who had no real stake in the war) were sent to die for their elite.

These policies of mass murder continued in both the subsequent Eisenhower administration and the next democratic administration, Kennedy. Like every other president since World War Two (and many prior to that) he supported numerous puppet dictatorships that slaughtered thousands – Mobutu, the Shah, etc. Kennedy backed a coup against the democratically elected government in the Dominican Republic because it was too independent. And lets not forget the Bay of Pigs and the many terrorist campaigns against Cuba.

Kennedy also escalated US involvement in Vietnam. During Eisenhower’s term the Vietnamese defeated US-backed French invaders and the war with France was brought to an end. The country was partitioned in two, with the Vietnamese nationalists/Communists taking over the north and the French puppet government temporarily ruling the south. Elections were to be held to reunite the two, but the US intervened to prevent this (because the Communists would have won free elections) and put in power a right-wing dictatorship headed by Ngo Dinh Diem which relied on a reign of terror in order to stay in power. In the late ’50s popular rebellions erupted against this dictatorship. By the time Kennedy came to power the survival of Diem’s dictatorship was increasingly precarious and so Kennedy escalated the situation from state terror to outright aggression. The US military, mainly the air force, was sent to crush the resistance. This failed to defeat the resistance, so Johnson fabricated a bogus attack on US destroyers by North Vietnamese forces and used this as an excuse to escalate the war, launching a full-fledged ground invasion of the south and began bombing the north. US forces set up concentration camps (called “strategic hamlets”) and committed numerous atrocities during the war. Even John Kerry testified:

“Several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. … They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. … We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. … We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals. … We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater.”

Kerry has since claimed that Vietnam was an exception to the norm, but the evidence presented in this article shows otherwise. This testimony is corroborated by numerous other primary sources, including many Vietnam veterans. Colin Powell admitted these atrocities occurred and defended them, writing in his memoirs (My American Journey):

“If a helo [helicopter] spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM [military-aged male], the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen, Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.”

In addition, Powell defends the torching of civilians’ huts in his memoirs. There are also many Vietnam veterans who strongly deny that the United States committed any kind of atrocities or wrongdoing in Vietnam at all, but they are not the first murderers to strongly deny murdering anyone. These are the kinds of atrocities the Democrat’s foreign policy leads to.

Democrats (and Republicans) tried to portray the war as a result of Chinese (or even Soviet) aggression that had to be stopped or else it would cause a “domino effect” leading to “Communist” conquest of the globe. This is shear fantasy.

Vietnam became independent in 1945 and for a brief period of time the whole country was united under the rule of Ho Chi Min and his fellow nationalists and Marxists. Then France invaded, with US support, leading to the creation of “South Vietnam,” which was a foreign puppet from day one. Attacks on it by Vietnamese were no more “aggression” than attacks on the Vichy government by the French resistance. Communists in China didn’t come to power until 1948, whereas Vietnam declared independence in 1945, so portraying the war as “Chinese aggression” is particularly absurd. Eventually, China did provide weapons, money and advisors to Vietnam (as did the USSR), but merely giving supplies to people fighting for independence hardly constitutes “aggression.” If China giving some weapons and supplies to a Vietnamese movement with substantial popular support constitutes “aggression” then what are we to make of the US, which went well beyond sending weapons and sent over 100,000 troops to keep in power a deeply unpopular puppet government? By this kind of logic, the American war for independence constituted French aggression because France gave the rebels support, just as China & Russia gave the Vietnamese support, except France went even further and sent warships to fight the British and help the US win the war. The Vietnam War was a brutal colonial war, started mainly by democrats, against a people struggling for national liberation.

Even if we ignore Vietnam, Johnson was still a murderous warmonger. In 1965 Johnson launched a secret war on Laos, which would eventually drop more bombs on it then were dropped during World War Two, in order to defeat the leftist Pathet Lao. When a popular rebellion erupted against the US-backed dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, LBJ invaded and defeated it, keeping a US puppet government in power. In Brazil LBJ supported and encouraged a fascist coup against the mildly reformist Goulart administration. Johnson also backed a right-wing coup in Indonesia. The previous ruler, Sukarno, committed the crime of trying to stay neutral in the cold war and desiring to build a strong Indonesia independent of foreign powers. So he was removed and general Suharto seized power. The US helped Suharto liquidate dissent and gave him lists of “subversives” to kill. Between 500,000 and a million people were massacred by Suharto in the period following the coup, with the covert help of the Johnson administration. When the Greek ambassador objected to the President’s plan for a resolving a dispute over Cyprus LBJ told him:

“Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant’s trunk, whacked good. … We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long.”

In 1965 the Greek king, aided by the CIA, removed Prime Minister George Papandreou (who’s foreign policy was too independent for Washington) from power. In 1967 the Greek government was forced to finally hold elections again, but when it looked like George Papandreou was going to win again a military coup prevented him from coming to power. George Papadopoulos, leader of the coup and head of the new military dictatorship, had been on the CIA payroll for 15 years and was a Nazi collaborator during World War Two.

Carter, the so-called “human rights” president, was also an imperialist warmonger. He continued US support for brutal tyrants in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. Carter supported Pol Pot’s forces after they were thrown out of power due to a war with Vietnam. Under Ford Indonesia invaded East Timor and proceeded to slaughter 200,000 people. Although this invasion occurred under Ford, the worst atrocities happened under Carter’s reign. As atrocities increased, he increased the flow of weapons to the Indonesian government, insuring they wouldn’t run out and could continue massacring Timorese. Carter also backed the massacre in Kwangju by the South Korean military dictatorship. Many of the things which liberals like to blame Reagan for were actually started under Carter. Deregulation began under Carter, as did US support for the Contras in Nicaragua. Six months before the Soviets invaded he also initiated US support for the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists/”freedom fighters” in Afghanistan which would later include Bin Laden.

Bill Clinton was a mass murderer and war criminal, too. He backed numerous dictatorships, continued the proxy war against Marxist guerillas in Columbia and bombed more countries than any other peacetime president, including Iraq, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Clinton laid siege to Iraq with sanctions, “no fly zones” and bombings, killing 1.5 to 3 million people. UN-approved sanctions on Iraq were originally imposed at the start of the Gulf War in response to the invasion of Kuwait, but continued after the end of the war at US (and UK) insistence. The United States used sanctions as a weapon against Iraq. One military intelligence document titled Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities noted:

“Iraq depends on importing-specialized equipment-and some chemicals to purify its water supply … With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations sanctions to import these vital commodities. … Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure-water-dependent industries becoming incapacitated, including petrochemicals, fertilizers, petroleum refining, electronics, pharmaceuticals, food processing, textiles, concrete construction, and thermal power plants. Iraq’s overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt … Unless water treatment supplies are exempted from the UN sanctions for humanitarian reasons, no adequate solution exists for Iraq’s water purification dilemma, since no suitable alternatives … sufficiently meet Iraqi needs. … Unless the water is purified with chlorine epidemics of such diseases as Cholera, Hepatitis, and Typhoid could occur … Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons. It probably also is attempting to purchase supplies by using some sympathetic countries as fronts. If such attempts fail, Iraqi alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements. … Some affluent Iraqis could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring large quantities of pure water would not be able to meet their needs. … Alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements.”

This and other documents show that the United States intentionally used sanctions to destroy Iraq’s water supply with full knowledge of the consequences. In addition to water problems, the sanctions also interfered with the importation of basic necessities like food and medicine. The UN itself, the organization that implemented the sanctions (due to US/UK insistence), reported that they resulted in mass death. UNICEF found that on average 5,000 children died every month as a result of sanctions. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in 1995 that 567,000 children in Iraq had died as a result of the sanctions. Those sanctions continued until the invasion in 2003, killing even more. This began under the first Bush administration, but most of it occurred under Clinton’s administration.

In 1996, faced with mounting humanitarian concerns that threatened to end the sanctions, an “oil for food” program was implemented. Officially, this was supposed to allow Iraq to import a limited amount of food and supplies in exchange for limited amounts of oil but in practice it did little to alleviate the suffering of Iraqis caused by the sanctions. Everything imported by Iraq had to be approved by a UN sanctions committee that, due to US/UK influence, frequently stopped or delayed importation of needed supplies. All money Iraq made from the sale of oil was kept by the UN in an escrow account with the bank of Paris and was not at the discretion of the Iraqi government. Some of this was used to pay for administrative costs related to the sanctions and about a third were used to pay reparations to Kuwait, the remainder was inadequate for Iraq’s needs. In 1998 Dennis Halliday, the first head of the UN’s “oil for food” program resigned because the sanctions continued to result in a humanitarian catastrophe. In 2000 Hans Von Sponeck, the new head of the “oil for food” program, resigned for the same reason. On the May 12, 1996 edition of “60 minutes” journalist Lesly Stahl asked Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state,

“We have heard that a half million children have died [from sanctions on Iraq]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright’s response was, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Clinton attacked and dismembered Yugoslavia, using a “divide and conquer” strategy to install US/NATO puppet governments ruling over its corpse. During and after World War Two Yugoslavia underwent its own Leninist revolution, independent of Soviet tanks, and eventually evolved a market socialist economy based on a limited form of worker self-management. Most of the economy was run by enterprises that were officially worker owned, with elected managers, and sold their products on the market. Yugoslavia was a federation of different nationalities in southeastern Europe, with six different republics united under a federal government.

As the Soviet empire declined and fell western financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank began pressuring Yugoslavia to implement neoliberal capitalist reforms such as privatization, austerity measures and so on.

Yugoslavia implemented these on a limited basis. These programs lead to a declining economy that opened the door for opportunistic politicians to whip up nationalism for their own benefit, scapegoating other nationalities for economic problems. They also stressed relations between the federal government and the republics because money that would have gone to the republics instead went to servicing Yugoslavia’s debt. The United States and Western Europe took advantage of this to encourage the breakup of Yugoslavia into NATO protectorates.

In 1990 separatists won elections in Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. The new Croatian government began to persecute the Serb minority living in Croatia, even bringing back the flag and other symbols from when it had been a World War Two Axis puppet government (run by a fascist organization called the Ustase) that attempted to exterminate the Serbs (who were regarded as “subhuman”). Croatian President Franjo Trudjman refused to condemn the Ustase and claimed, “the establishment of Hitler’s new European order can be justified by the need to be rid of the Jews.” Croatia and Slovenia declared independence in 1991. West Europe and then the US recognized Slovenia and Croatia as independent states despite warnings from the UN that this would encourage Bosnia to declare independence and bring about a civil war, which it did.

The Yugoslav federal government fought a small ten-day war with Slovenia, after which Slovenia was allowed to leave Yugoslavia. Croatia and Bosnia fought bloody civil wars with the Yugoslav government. In Bosnia the main forces fighting against the federal government were Croat fascists, supported by Croatia, and Islamic fundamentalists, led by Alija Izetbegovic, who aimed to turn Bosnia into a theocracy similar to Iran or the Taliban. Most of Bosnia’s Serb minority sided with the Yugoslav federal government. The US covertly backed the Islamists and fascists by secretly supplying them with weapons and even flying in Muslim ‘holy warriors’ from Afghanistan so they could join the Jihad. Initially the Islamists and fascists in Bosnia worked together against the Serbs and Yugoslav government. Later they started fighting each other, but US & West European pressure eventually put a stop to that. When the Yugoslav government started winning the war NATO sent in the air force to bomb them and support the separatists. Many atrocities were committed on both sides of the war, but Western governments and media emphasized and exaggerated Yugoslav and Serb atrocities while downplaying or ignoring atrocities committed by the separatists.

In 1995 the war came to an end, in a defeat for Yugoslavia. Under a UN fig leaf, NATO “peacekeeper” troops occupied much of the former Yugoslavia while Bosnia was made into a de-facto NATO colony, occupied by NATO troops and with a “high representative” responsible to foreign powers in charge of the country. Yugoslavia was dramatically shrunk, with only two out of six Republics, Serbia and Montenegro, remaining in the union (Macedonia had been allowed to peacefully leave the union in the early ’90s but at this time was still largely outside the Western sphere of influence).

The next phase of Clinton’s conquest of Yugoslavia began in the late ’90s when the CIA began covertly supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization that has been linked to Osama Bin Laden. The KLA launched a guerilla war in the Kosovo province of Serbia, advocating independence for Kosovo. In 1999, under the guise of “peace negotiations,” the US/NATO issued an ultimatum demanding Yugoslavia allow NATO troops to occupy the entire country. Yugoslavia obviously refused this unreasonable demand and Clinton used this refusal as an excuse to begin a major bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. After several months of bombing pulverized the country a peace deal was reached allowing NATO “peacekeeper” troops to occupy Kosovo (but not the rest of Yugoslavia), effectively turning the province into a NATO protectorate. A year later a revolt led by US-funded groups and politicians overthrew the Yugoslav government, putting pro-US/NATO leaders in charge. The new government abolished Yugoslavia and became a Western puppet. This conquest was completed shortly after Clinton left office, when KLA forces attacked Macedonia. Macedonia saw the writing on the wall and allowed NATO troops to occupy it. Clinton succeeded in not only ripping Yugoslavia apart, but in achieving US/NATO domination over the Balkans and in forcing an economic system favorable to Western investors on the region. A wave of privatization has swept over the former Yugoslavia, transforming it into a corporate capitalist economy colonized by Western capital.

The standard excuse Clinton used to justify the military interventions in Yugoslavia was that it was supposed to stop “ethnic cleansing”/”genocide” allegedly being perpetrated by the Serbs/Yugoslav government. This is obviously bogus because the US helped instigate the conflicts that lead to the various massacres in the war and also because Clinton largely turned a blind eye towards atrocities committed by separatist forces (like the massacres in Gospic and Krajina). It is also not credible because Clinton ignored other genocides (such as Rwanda) and even funded Turkey’s genocide against the Kurds, which occurred at roughly the same time and resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds.

The death toll of the democrats is quite large:

Greek Civil War: 160,000 (Truman)
Korean War: 3 million (Truman)
Assault on Indochina: 5 million (started under Truman, accelerated under Kennedy & LBJ)
Coup in Indonesia: 1 million (LBJ)
East Timor: 100,000 (Carter)
Kwangju Massacre: 2000 (Carter)
Argentine Dirty War: 30,000 (mostly Carter)
Iraq sanctions: 1.5 million (mostly Clinton)
Turkish Kurdistan: 40,000 (mostly Clinton)

That’s at least 10,8022,000 killed by democrats, 9,292,000 if one only counts the liberal governments (Clinton wasn’t really a liberal). For comparison, the Nazi holocaust killed roughly 6,000,000 Jews. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; these are only the most famous incidents over the last couple of decades. If you add up the total from periods preceding this and the less famous incidents the number get much, much higher. If you add in starvation (a direct result of capitalism) it gets even higher.

Democrats could have stopped the congressional authorization for the Iraq war (via filibustering) but instead lots of them defected to the warmongers’ side. They could have stopped many of the nasty things the Republicans are doing by filibuster but choose not to. Many democrats actively supported the war. Most of those who did oppose it offered little opposition, chickening out when the shooting started and either abstained or voted in favor of the pro-war “support our troops” resolution in March. Even Dennis Kucinich, leader of the “anti-war” opposition in the house, abstained from the vote instead of voting against it. It was only after Bush’s war started going sour that vocal criticism began to come from democrats, which is completely opportunistic. Bush’s lies and fabrications about the Niger Uranium had already been exposed prior to the war, but it wasn’t until after the invasion was completed and the democrats needed an issue to attack Bush with that they started whining about it.

The Democratic Party, the party of slavery, has a long history of mass murder and empire building. They are not an alternative to the American Empire. Especially on foreign policy, there is remarkable consistency between republican and democratic administrations. If the Nuremberg standards were applied every President since World War Two, both democrat and republican, would have to be hung. Both parties have the same basic goals; they just disagree on minor details. It would have been much harder for Bush to conquer Iraq (perhaps politically impossible) if Clinton hadn’t been waging war against it for his entire term. The policies implemented by the US government have more to do with the specific circumstances of the time period then with which particular individual happens to occupy the white house. If a democrat is elected he will inherit this Pax Americana and it is unlikely that he would dismantle it (or even be capable of dismantling it). A vote for the democrats is a vote for imperialism and war (as is a vote for the Republicans).

Video in Spanish: El enigma de Corea del Norte (The Enigma of North Korea)

PC (AP) Statement on Kim Jong-Il’s Death

I post this article here despite disagreements with the PC(AP)’s line on the DPRK, which seems to differ from most M-L parties.

— Espresso Stalinist

Dear comrades:

On December 17 comrade Kim Jong Il, top leader and leader of the Labour Party of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Korean people, died. His death attracted various comments and speculations by capricious and malicious agencies, reactionary and imperialist news, and even the machinery of war in Japan, U.S. and South Korea which are put on “maximum alert” and of course, as usual, not only the openly reactionary and imperialist pour their poison, also false anti-imperialist leftists stick their voice to refer to the death of Comrade Kim Jong IL, as the death of a “dictator”, a “Stalinist” to the Communists never been an offense, rather it is that we honor appoint “Stalinist.” All with morbid excitement seeking “signs of popular discontent” in order to reaffirm their reactionary plans, last minute, to justify an imperialist military progression.

For those who, from Marxism-Leninism, assume the national liberation struggle for popular democracy and socialism, the death of Comrade Kim Jong IL, is a source of genuine and deep regret. Korean people, under his guidance, learned to face the aggressive maneuvers of imperialism and the South Korean puppets, always sought the support and supported those who dared to walk on their own feet and use their own heads, who are not subjected to imperialist hegemony, many unresolved battles and all the lands with which the DPRK under the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Il, has demonstrated the dignity, courage and to stand with those who fight and defend self-determination, anti-imperialism, and socialism.

Comrade Kim Jong Il, through great courage and as an internationalist revolutionary, was not discouraged by the revisionist betrayal restored capitalism in the former USSR and other Eastern European countries, on the contrary, scientific and burning attachment revolutionary, unmasked as a betrayal of the working class, the people and its system, socialism, stating clearly that the main cause lies in the fact that the leaders of those countries moved away and abandoned the ideology of the working class, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.

At present we can only join the pain of the workers and people of Korea, and with them to honor the memory of Comrade Kim Jong IL, a loyal fighter for self-determination, national sovereignty, for socialism Only then can we impose the truth of the workers and peoples of the manipulations, falsifications and lies of the reactionaries and imperialists, and only win!

Honor and Glory to Comrade Kim Jong IL!

Eduardo Artés

First Secretary of the Chilean Communist Party (Proletarian Action) PC (AP)

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