The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Against the threat of war in Korea. The discussion was initiated by KT.Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!
The threat of a nuclear ‘exchange’, the frightening rhetoric and and bombast of just a few weeks ago has for now disappeared. Something else occupies the front pages. But as this timely statement shows, the conflict on the Korean peninsula not only has historic roots which have pitted the regional powers against each other for well over half a century but are being super-heated by the present-day imperialist re-alignments, particularly the rise of China. In short, the tensions ‘aint going to disappear.
At the height of the noise about a possible North Korean nuclear strike, my concern was this: how much of this belligerence from North Korea was fuelled by China? To what degree what the Chinese ruling class using NK as a battering ram to occupy and therefore weaken its rivals - the US, South Korea and Japan? After all, as the statement says, NK couldn’t last 5 minutes without the backing of China – the arms, the aid, the trade....
On the other hand, we’ve seen in the reality of decomposition, in the evolution of ‘every man for himself’ amongst imperialist states. The statement, while acknowledging that China uses NK for its own ends, also recognises that NK has its own dynamic of ‘striking out’ that it is reaching a new level of ‘insanity’, implying that it is not necessarily or always acting in China’s own interests.
Finally, there’s the US and Japan: as the statement also acknowledges, they too have immense interests in containing China through threatening NK (even if both the US and Japan acknowledge the usefulness of this ‘buffer zone’, in place since the end of WW2). So how much was the recent noise from Pyongyang was in fact prompted by US/SK/Japan aggression? As the statement says, the US welcomes the excuse to beef up its military presence and rhetoric in the region.
The balance – the tension - between all these elements is difficult to judge. But the statement, plus the simultaneously published article on the hostilities between China and Japan and the recent International Review devoted to the region are proving an indispensible guide....
Generally agree with the above - two good articles from the same overall analysis.
But my feelings are that the Chinese are not at all unhappy with the antics of the leadership of the DPRK and recent talks between the former and the US military (which lasted for 3 days according to "The Guardian" yesterday) have yielded nothing concrete or positve and will turn out as meaningless as previous Chinese promises along these lines. The DPRK regime is somewhat bellicose but it is not insane and, though there's a certain irrationality to it, I can't see China putting itself in a position where it would have to face a US invasion of the north with the possibility of US troops on its borders. North Korea, even with its "excesses" is and remains very useful for Chinese imperialism. Another aspect to all this talk about war and nuclear destruction, which is implicit in the situation, is how it is used by all the bourgeoisie in order to reinforce the terror and confusion of the working class and not just those directly implicated but to a "wider" audience.
There's been a spate of programmes on British TV recently supposedly giving an "insight" into the "inscrutable" regime of the DPRK. The most famous of these was the "undercover" expose by the BBC's Panorama programme which, as far a revealing any insights into north Korea, could have been shot in a car park in Stevenage. It's a whole campaign. By far the best programme was a two-hour documentary (again on the BBC) which looked, in some detail, at the lives of half-a-dozen or so US soldiers who deserted to the north during the Korean War. This certainly gave some insight, not only into their lives, but the regime and its extremely powerful brainwashing techniques - techniques which have been superceded, adapted and perfected by the west; witness the whole propaganda operation that swung seamlessly into action on the day of the Boston bombing.
The main element of the situation of the tensions around the Pacific seems to me the massive, long-term offensive launched against China by the US. Part of this entailed a time-consuming and region-wide diplomatic operation by Secretary of Defence Panetta and co. last autumn, taking in the Phillipines, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, etc. Even before this vast and time-consuming effort had come to an end agreements reached were unraveling and coming apart and tensions between the "allies" under the pressure of centrifugal tendencies were coming to the fore. Even so, the upgraded South Korean/US war games aimed at North Korea and China continues to stoke present tensions as does the upcoming joint military manoeuvres of the US and Japan which has really upset Beijing. The piece above makes the point about the rise of Japanese militarism and nationalism and the extra instability that this brings to the whole region. And the rise of Japanese militarism is not just aimed against China.
China is making all sorts of provocations itself (outside of its general imperialist expansion) particularly around the East China Sea and these have involved warships of the Chinese navy locking their missile systems on to Japanese ships (Guardian, yesterday). This is shows that it's not all bluster and there is the real danger of a deadly mistake here. But Japan's own maritime dispute is developing with South Korea to the point that Seouls foreign minister cancelled talks in Tokyo on the North Korean crisis.
In the middle to longer-term Sino-US tensions can only worsen as can the centrifugal tendencies in the wider region. Within this, at the moment, Seoul has ratcheted up its own provocations and bellicosity against its North Korean "brothers".