Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
John e. Peck
American Newspeak Quiz
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Bush Preparing for War on Two Fronts?
A nation of some 22 million, North Korea has long posed as something of a mystery to Western commentators. Closed and insular, the communist North is finally being driven to engage with the broader international community, as well as its southern neighbor. The threat of famine, and the problem of diplomatic and economic isolation following the collapse of the Soviet Union, have acted to motivate the North in its attempts at building dialogue with the South. In 2001, the North’s Committee for Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland proposed, “that dialogue between North and South Korea reopen as soon as possible to open a wider road to reconciliation, unity and national unification.”
As opposed to the previous tendency towards tension and confrontation, the “Sunshine Policy,” embraced by South Korea, is based on the ideal of rapproachment and reconciliation, facilitated through the provision of economic aid, the development of trade ties, family reunion, and ongoing dialogue. Expectations have grown steadily, especially in South Korea, that this process of engagement would lead eventually to a negotiated reunification. The Sunshine Policy has developed with the clear renunciation of any suggestion the South might “absorb” the North.
The recent election of pro-reconciliation presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun has promised to breathe new life into this policy, despite the looming confrontation between P’yongyang and Washington.
Moves towards greater engagement were dealt a serious blow in October 2002 as the North confirmed that it had reinitiated its nuclear weapons program. The North’s admission thus effectively ended the 1994 Agreed Framework under which it was to receive “light -water nuclear technology” in exchange for a commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.
This fateful course had been preceded by North Korean allegations that the U.S. had violated the Agreed Framework, having failed to deliver “heavy fuel oil according to schedule and by not moving forward as planned with the light-water reactors.”
Apart from the North’s claims, we can only speculate on what further motives lay behind its move, but arguably the North felt compelled to act in the face of a hawkish U.S. administration eager to extinguish all remaining outposts against its global hegemony. It is within the realm of legitimate speculation, also, to suppose that the North Koreans are hoping to establish a nuclear deterrent in order to be able to afford some relaxation of their military budget which, at 20 percent to 25 percent of GDP, is a crippling drain on the North Korean economy. According to the Power and Interest News Report, North Korea has the fourth largest military in the world with over 1.2 million armed personnel.
The North Korean army, while huge, however, does not have the capacity to win an offensive war against the South. While North Korea’s massive military commitment is seen as a necessary deterrent, the North would likely embrace limited disarmament for the sake of economic growth and prosperity, were it seen to be a viable option.
Meanwhile, constant references in the Western media to the regime being “irrational,” “unstable,” have been made with the effect of building up the fear and apprehension necessary to rationalize possible military intervention—or at least diplomatic and economic sanctions certain to worsen the lot of the nation’s already starving people. Under such circumstances, with some 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and some 100,000 in the broader region, the prospects of mutual disarmament between North and South Korea seem slim.
Earlier in 2002, George Bush identified North Korea, provocatively and threateningly, as part of a so-called Axis of Evil. Thereafter, he suggested his possible willingness to take “pre-emptive action” to “take out weapons of mass destruction” in so-called rogue states. The new Bush doctrine even seemed to suggest the possibility of a nuclear first strike. Suddenly, the prospect of the U.S fighting wars on two fronts: against P’yongyang and Baghdad—an idea long entertained by strategists at the Pentagon—may find real and terrible application.
As tensions have spiraled between P’yongyang and the U.S., anti-American sentiment has exploded in South Korea. The deaths of two South Korean schoolgirls in a road accident involving a U.S. serviceperson acted as the catalyst for an unprecedented display of anger and frustration. As many as 300,000 South Koreans mobilized demanding greater control over U.S. forces stationed in their country. Many demonstrators demanded the total withdrawal of U.S. Forces.
Behind this massive popular mobilization simmered resentment over the perceived preference of the Bush administration for containment, or even confrontation, over the Sunshine Policy.
South Korean resentment has reached an all-time high, following the Bush’s inclusion of North Korea in his Axis of Evil. While the American president has become ever more strident in his aggressive posturing against those states he views as hostile to U.S. interests and hegemony, South Koreans are increasingly nervous at the damage such rhetoric has caused to their careful and sincere process of engagement and reconciliation.
The term rogue state, it appears, is being used indiscriminately to describe all states that do not form part of the support structure of the global U.S. hegemony in the post Soviet world order. In such a way, the U.S. is poised to rationalize the removal of all resistance to its global hegemony—either through direct application of military force or through covert action or diplomatic pressure, including sanctions and/or the withdrawal of vital humanitarian aid. It is very convenient for the U.S.—in this period of its unchallenged economic, political, military dominance—that it has been able to construct this ideology that legitimizes its role as “world cop” for a world order it is constructing in its own image. North Korean trade and production has collapsed since the fall of the USSR. The country has few significant trading partners and few means of securing hard currency except from arms exports. Clearly it is in the country’s interests to pursue a policy of engagement and rapproachment—as opposed to one of confrontation.
Since the fall of the USSR, North Korea has faced the task of adapting. It has faced the difficult task of building diplomatic and trade ties and of engaging with the global market economy. In the short term, due to the ongoing threat of famine, the provision of food aid remains essential.
What the Korean peninsula needs now is a negotiated settlement—whereby a new nation might be built including elements of the old political systems (i.e., representative and economic democracy, the constitutional guarantee of social rights and civil liberties, as well as a mixed economy including a significant socialized sector). This means economic, political, and diplomatic engagement. It does not mean stirring up talk of war or the indirect inference of possible nuclear first strikes. Despite popular wisdom, the regime is not irrational. It is, however, increasingly desperate. The present nuclear gambit is evidence of this desperation to deepen economic and political engagement, lest the North face possible humanitarian catastrophe and probable collapse.
The North’s willingness—indeed, desperation—to adapt, was further evidenced by the decision, in September, to establish a free- trade zone in its northwest border with China, and to solicit foreign investment. Now is not the time for warlike rhetoric. We ought be critical of attempts to soften public opinion to the prospect of confrontation with North Korea, with the possible final consequence of war and human tragedy.
Despite the deficiencies of the communist regime, it ought be remembered that, from its current position of weakness, it may well be willing to give concessions— most notably in the crucial field of human rights. Indeed, further engagement and nurturing of the crucial Sunshine Policy may yet, one day, lead to a negotiated reunification to end decades of tension and confrontation.
Should the U.S. continue to eschew compromise and engagement, however, the mood on the South Korean street will likely grow more resentful of a U.S. military presence. Many South Koreans, noting their modern and impressive armed forces, already question the need for the continued presence of U.S forces.
In the current war of nerves, it is the Korean people who, as always, stand to suffer most. For the interests of all Koreans, it is time to press on with engagement and compromise. It is time to press on with negotiations aimed at ending the current nuclear tensions, fostering conditions conducive to mutual disarmament, and of further political, cultural, and economic engagement. The world has had enough of the winner-take-all approach of the Bush administration. It is time to give peace a chance.
Tristan Ewans lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is a writer and long-time member of the Socialist left grouping of the Australian Labor Party.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.