Workers Hammer No. 239
Defend North Korea!
SEPTEMBER 1 — We print below a 12 August statement by the Political Bureau of the Spartacist League/US, section of the International Communist League, in defence of North Korea against the US imperialists’ war threats. In late August, a small contingent of British forces joined tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops in provocative war exercises aimed at North Korea. While Jeremy Corbyn opposes Britain’s role in the military exercises, he bewails “nuclear threats” on both sides, drawing an equals sign between the besieged North Korean deformed workers state and rapacious US imperialism.
In fact, British imperialism is as committed as Washington to the restoration of capitalism in North Korea, as well as in China. In 1950, Britain — under the “socialist” Attlee Labour government — sent 100,000 troops to help its American allies in waging a barbarous war that aimed to crush social revolutions in Korea and China. More recently Britain has voted for and enforced UN economic sanctions against the North. We say: Defend North Korea and its nukes! Down with British imperialism!
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In their drive to destroy the North Korean bureaucratically deformed workers state, the U.S. imperialist warmongers are taking the world to the brink of nuclear war. On August 8, Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” adding yesterday that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” for war. While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has tried to downplay the administration’s saber rattling, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis doubled down, declaring that North Korea risked “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
Washington’s war rhetoric is no idle threat. The U.S. has almost 25,000 troops across the border in South Korea, on top of another 50,000 in Japan. Later this month, U.S. and South Korean forces are planning massive military exercises in yet another provocation against North Korea. On August 10, U.S. and Japanese troops began an 18-day live-fire military exercise in Hokkaido. The Japanese imperialists are the historic colonial occupiers of the Korean Peninsula, and have long sought the counterrevolutionary destruction of the North. After Trump made his “fire and fury” remarks, the chief cabinet secretary in Japan, Yoshihide Suga, declared, “Our government approves of that stance.” All U.S. forces out of South Korea and Japan! Down with the U.S./Japanese imperialist axis against North Korea!
The U.S. and its allies paint North Korea’s development of a nuclear arsenal as a dangerous threat. In fact, the real danger to the world’s masses is U.S. imperialism. The U.S. threats against North Korea come on the anniversary of the 6 August 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, followed three days later by the bombing of Nagasaki. Not only is the U.S. the only country to have ever used atomic weapons, it also came close to using nuclear weapons in the 1950-53 Korean War — hindered mainly by the Soviet Union’s own nuclear arsenal.
In that war, which was carried out under the auspices of the United Nations, the U.S. attempted to crush insurgent workers and peasants in the South and to overturn the social revolution in the North. It slaughtered three million Koreans and nearly a million Chinese soldiers, whose intervention was instrumental in turning the tide against the U.S. and other imperialists. The peninsula was devastated, with 18 of the country’s 22 largest cities largely or totally obliterated, including North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, which was flattened. In the closing weeks of the war, U.S. bombers destroyed irrigation dams that provided water for three-quarters of the North’s food production. The war ended in a stalemate. But the U.S. refused to sign a peace treaty or recognize the North, and has since then maintained a massive military presence in the South while subjecting North Korea to decades of military pressure and economic sanctions.
Washington’s latest threats came only days after the UN Security Council unanimously voted to approve crippling new sanctions against North Korea after it launched two intercontinental missiles last month. The sanctions, criminally supported by the Chinese Stalinist regime, are themselves an act of war and aim to cut off a third of North Korea’s export revenue and to force Pyongyang into submission by reversing the modest economic growth the country has experienced over the last several years. Down with UN sanctions against North Korea!
Whether under Republicans or Democrats, U.S. imperialism’s policy toward the North has always been to foster counterrevolution on the road to overturning the gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Trump’s bellicosity, and his unpredictability, raise the prospect of nuclear Armageddon in the Far East. But Obama also threatened to attack the North, including with nukes, having several times sent B-2 bombers over the peninsula. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that the Trump administration provocatively installed in South Korea earlier this year had been in the works for months, going back to the Obama regime.
Like China, North Korea is a bureaucratically deformed workers state where capitalist class rule was overthrown. Capitalist/ landlord rule was toppled in North Korea by armed forces acting under the protection of the Soviet Army following World War II. The establishment of proletarian, collectivized property relations freed the northern half of the country from imperialist domination. At the same time, both the Chinese and North Korean workers states have been ruled since their inception by nationalist, Stalinist bureaucratic castes that exclude the working class from political power.
It is vital for the international proletariat, not least in the U.S., to stand for the defense of North Korea and China against the predatory U.S. rulers, their Japanese allies and their South Korean underlings. The overturn and expropriation of capitalism in these countries are historic gains for the international working class. Their unconditional military defense against imperialist attack and capitalist counterrevolution is integral to the cause of world socialist revolution.
Such defense necessarily includes these countries having nuclear weapons and delivery systems to deter imperialist attack. There is much that is bizarre and unsavory about the dynastic, mythologized, bureaucratic rule of Kim Jong Un and his predecessors. But Pyongyang’s drive to secure nukes is a rational, essential policy of self-defense, not least against the U.S., which openly threatens a nuclear “first strike” against its perceived enemies. It is welcome that the North has gone some way toward developing a credible nuclear deterrent. If not for such a deterrent, the U.S. would have already bombarded North Korea, as it has so many countries in the Near East and elsewhere.
In the wake of the U.S.’s latest threats, North Korea announced that it is planning to launch by mid August several missiles designed to land in the waters around the island of Guam in the Pacific. It is U.S. imperialism that has put Guam under threat. Andersen Air Force Base was key to U.S. aerial operations during the Korean War and is used today for bombers flying over the Korean Peninsula. Guam itself was captured by the U.S. imperialists over a century ago in the Spanish-American War and has remained a colonial territory since. U.S. forces and bases out of Guam! For Guam’s right to self-determination!
An August 10 editorial in China’s state-run Global Times stated that Beijing would “prevent” the U.S. from overthrowing the Pyongyang regime, while also noting that “China will stay neutral” if North Korea fires at the U.S. first. Beijing’s policy regarding North Korea is premised on the futile Stalinist pursuit of “peaceful coexistence” with world imperialism. While it remains North Korea’s only ally, China has repeatedly pressured North Korea to stop its development of nuclear weapons. Time and again, it has voted for UN sanctions against the North, even if it does not fully implement them. Beijing’s collaboration with Washington against Pyongyang harms the defense of the Chinese workers state itself — the ultimate target of the U.S. imperialists. Capitalist counterrevolution in North Korea would bring U.S. forces right to the Chinese border, hugely intensifying the imperialist military threat.
Key to the defense of the deformed workers states is the fight for workers political revolution to sweep away the nationalist ruling bureaucracies. This is part of our perspective for the revolutionary reunification of Korea — through socialist revolution in the South and political revolution in the North. The struggle to replace the Stalinist misleaders with governments based on workers democracy and revolutionary internationalism must be linked to the extension of proletarian power to the centers of world imperialism — West Europe, Japan and the U.S. imperialist colossus. Vital to this fight is the creation of Leninist-Trotskyist parties as sections of a reforged Fourth International.
The capitalist order in its imperialist epoch has thrown the planet into continual wars and occupations in order for the imperialist powers to extend their domination of the globe. And, once again, it is threatening humanity with nuclear holocaust. As Marxists, we look to the multiracial American proletariat to bring down the U.S. imperialist beast from within. The same ruling class that threatens nuclear war against North Korea is also waging war on the livelihoods of working people and the oppressed in the U.S. What is desperately needed is class struggle against the capitalist rulers, both to defend the interests of workers at home and to hinder the ambitions of U.S. imperialism abroad. The Spartacist League and our comrades in the International Communist League aim to win the most conscious layers of the working class to the understanding that what is necessary to put an end to exploitation, oppression and imperialist slaughter is the overturn of the capitalist order in the U.S. and internationally through workers revolution. Defend North Korea! Down with U.S. imperialism!