All U.S. Troops Home Now
U.S. War Drills Are Crimes Against the Peace!
Voice of Revolution resolutely denounces the U.S. for launching the biggest ever joint military drills, first with south Korea and then with Japan. The war drills with south Korea will be carried out in the West Sea of Korea, just off the coast of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Sunday, November 28. The war drills are to continue until December 1. They followed drills a week earlier and were the fifth joint war drills this year. All the drills are part of U.S. war preparations for an armed invasion of the DPRK and potential war in the region.
The largest ever U.S-Japan war drills, aimed against the DPRK and China as well, are to immediately follow the November war drills with south Korea. They too are being organized near the north Korean and Chinese coasts.
The DPRK has warned both the U.S. and south Korea that it considers these military drills serious provocations and will respond militarily if its territory is violated and that the U.S. will be responsible for the consequences. It has also urged the U.S. to directly negotiate a peace treaty with the DPRK and that it is prepared to discuss denuclearization of the peninsula.
China has also called for joint talks to ease tensions and encourage a peaceful resolution. They have proposed that such talks include north and south Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., the countries which are part of the Six-Party talks designed to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula. The U.S. has refused and instead escalated the war drills. President Barack Obama is organizing talks in Washington, DC with just south Korea and Japan December 6. These will no doubt address U.S. war plans and the role of south Korea and Japan in them.
The massive war drills will include thousands of troops, dozens of warships and hundreds of bombers. The war drill with Japan alone includes more than 10,000 U.S. troops with 20 warships and 150 aircraft along with 34,000 Japanese military personnel with 40 warships and 250 aircraft. That with south Korea included the U.S. 7th Air Force and the Marines 31st Expeditionary Unit, 50 warships, 90 helicopters, 500 warplanes, and 600 tanks.
How can massive war drills, involving deployment of tens of thousands of troops and bombers, serve a “peaceful” purpose? And if this were the case, why organize them in disputed territory and within eight miles of the north Korean coast, an obvious provocation in itself? The war drills are also in China's exclusive economic zone. These facts underline that the war drills are for war, they are part of U.S. preparations for aggressive war in the region.
Preparations for aggressive war are crimes against the peace. One of the achievements of the peoples’ victory over fascism and part of blocking aggressive war, was to make preparations and propaganda for such wars crimes to be punished. This was part of the efforts to block the return of fascism and to strengthen the peoples’ stand to promote relations of mutual respect and benefit. The U.S., far from supporting the anti-fascist front of the peoples, organized to create an anti-communist front. The aggressive war against Korea from 1950-53 was critical to this effort. The U.S. used massive bombing raids to raze north Korea to the ground, chemical warfare and countless civilian massacres, killing 30 percent of Korea’s population. They divided the country and have acted to block reunification every since.
The U.S. has no business conducting any war drills in the region or anywhere besides its own territory. It is the U.S. that is the threat to peace and stability and its war drills are increasing this threat. They are preparing to repeat their crimes against the Koreans, when what is needed is to sign a peace treaty with the north.
We demand that the U.S. begin immediate negotiations for a peace treaty with north Korea. We demand that the U.S. End All War Drills and Bring All U.S. Troops Home Now! It is the U.S. that should be put on trial in an international court for crimes against the peace and war crimes. The people of Korea are one nation and have the right to solve problems on their own without U.S. interference and use of force. Let all Americans defend that right and join in demanding an end to U.S. aggression.
On Tuesday, November 23, 70,000 South Korean and American military troops engaged in an annual military drill, called “Hoguk [Defend the State].” The war drills involve the U.S. 7th Air Force and the Marines 31st Expeditionary Unit, and includes 50 warships, 90 helicopters, 500 warplanes, and 600 tanks. The war games are being conducted about eight miles from north Korean shores and in disputed territory. The drills are being organized as a war simulation exercise, with live fire. It was scheduled for a period of 9 days, until November 30. This follows major war drills already conducted by the U.S. in the region this year in March, June, August and September. All were condemned by the people of Korea, north and south, China and peoples worldwide.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) criticized the most recent mobilization, stating that they were designed to simulate an attack on the DPRK and demanded that south Korea halt the drill. Requests to end the war games were sent all morning long November 23, as the war games got underway.
South Korean artillery units fired toward the DPRK from a battery close to the DPRK coast, within a disputed maritime region called the Northern Limit Line (NLL). The disputed border on the west coast between North and South Korea was drawn unilaterally by the U.S. Navy in 1953. It was never recognized by the North, nor was it part of the mutually agreed armistice ending the U.S.-instigated Korean War. As well, previous south Korea governments have agreed that the territory in question belongs to north Korea.
More than an hour after the shelling and with no replies to the calls to end the games, the DPRK replied with 100 artillery shells from a position north of Yeonpyeong Island. South Korea then fired back 80 artillery shells.
Two South Korean marines and two civilians working at the military base on the island were killed and at least 16 others injured on Yeonpyeong Island. The islet has U.S.-controlled military bases as well as a fishing community of 1,300 residents. DPRK casualty and damages are unknown.
U.S. Involvement and Escalation of Tensions
President Barack Obama responded by intensifying the war games, sending the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (carrying up to 80 warplanes and a crew of more than 6000) and other warships to conduct additional joint war drills with the south Korean military right in the vicinity of the NLL. These war drills, which are also war crimes as they represent preparations for aggressive war in the region many thousands of miles from U.S. shores, are to begin Sunday, November 28. The U.S. has repeatedly organized these war drills very close to the shores of the DPRK and China. Imagine having dozens of warships and hundreds of bombers from a major power conducting an “exercise” in the Atlantic Ocean, eight miles off the coast and thus within easy striking distance of New York City, Washington DC and all the east coast.
Ongoing State of War
There has not been a formal end to the Korean War. In 1953, only an armistice was put into place. The Armistice Agreement is a cease-fire signed by the United States (representing the United Nations Command, which included the Republic of Korea), China, and the DPRK in 1953. The U.S. has refused to sign a peace treaty or even have direct negotiations with the DPRK in order to hammer out such an agreement. The U.S. also retains wartime command of the south Korean Army, which means the U.S. can order the south Koreans to carry out aggression at any time. Repeated massive war games organized by the U.S. – this is the fifth this year – keep the Korean peninsula on the brink of war and threaten the entire region.
Various organizations in the U.S. have gone into action to denounce U.S. war drills with south Korea, which are serving to increase tensions and the threat of war in the region.
On November 25, the International Action Center (IAC) issued a call for demonstrations November 27 in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It also urged everyone to sign an online petition to oppose the Obama administration's war threats on the Korean peninsula.
The call drew attention to the fact that the people of the United States have been subject to three generations of war propaganda against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and that the U.S.-led Korean War resulted in the deaths of more than 3 million Korean people.
In addition, Nodutdol, a Korean American organization defending the rights of Koreans and working for social change, in partnership with the National Campaign to End the Korean War called for an online demonstration for peace in Korea. They provided information about the current U.S.-south Korean war drills and urged the U.S. to sign a peace treaty with north Korea as a vital step for calm and stability in the region.
Their statement brought out that sending the USS George Washington and other warships into an area just off the coast of north Korea only escalated “the already tense situation on the Korean peninsula and brings us dangerously closer to an all-out war.” They emphasized “We say: No More Lives Lost. We need all those who stand for peace to call for de-escalation on the Korean peninsula and an immediate end to the U.S.-South Korean war games.”
On Sunday, November 28, from 12 noon to 3 pm EST (9 am to 12 noon PST) and Wednesday, December 1 from 7 pm to 10 pm EST (4pm to 7 pm PST) they urged everyone to join in a coordinated online demonstration. Actions included:
• Barraging the White House and State Department with emails urging President Obama and State Secretary Clinton to immediately stop the joint U.S.-South Korean war maneuvers, and sign a Peace Treaty to end the state of war that has existed for sixty years on the Korean peninsula.
• Posting replies to online media sites and blogs where they are discussing the issue and beat back the war-mongering rhetoric with calls for de-escalation and a peaceful resolution.
A joint U.S.-South Korea war game, dubbed "Safeguarding the Nation," ceased to be a game when north Korea and south Korea exchanged artillery fire in the West Sea on Tuesday. In response to a live fire artillery drill conducted by south Korean forces, north Korea fired some 100 artillery rounds at Yeonpyeong Island, a south Korean military post with a civilian fishing community located two miles from the disputed maritime demarcation line and eight miles from the coast of north Korea. Two south Korean marines were killed; more than a dozen other soldiers and at least 3 civilians were wounded. Shortly thereafter south Korea returned fire and scrambled F-16 fighter jets to the scene.
North Korea has denounced the joint military exercise as a provocation and it "sent messages to the south Korean government all morning," according to the south Korean daily, Joongahn Ilbo, November 23, 2010, demanding that it be cancelled. In reply, the south Korean government explained the exercise was not an attack on north Korea.
North Korea detected the south Korean artillery fire starting at 1:00 pm according to a statement released by its official news service, KCNA. It began shelling Yeonpyeong Island at 2:34 pm and south Korea responded by firing a barrage of 80 self-propelled rounds towards north Korea's coast, starting at 3:42 pm, according to south Korean military officials. In a press briefing, spokesperson for the Blue House, Kim Hee Jung, acknowledged "Our Navy was conducting a maritime exercise near the western sea border today. North Korea has sent a letter of protest over the drill. We're examining a possible link between the protest and the artillery attack."
Firing from the vicinity of Yeonpyeong Island near the coast of north Korea, the south Korean artillery drill took place as part of a display of military might, which north Korea claims simulates the invasion of its territory. The games were to involve 70,000 South Korean soldiers, 50 war ships, 90 helicopters and 500 planes in joint exercises with the U.S. 7th Air Force and the U.S. Marines 31st Expeditionary Unit, through November 30, 2010.
While acknowledging that it conducted a live artillery drill, south Korea denies that any of their test shots fell in north Korean territory. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak denounced the north Korean shelling as "an invasion of south Korean territory." However the boundary line bisecting the West Sea into North and South Korean territories, known as the Northern Limit Line (NNL), was drawn unilaterally by the United States after the Korean War. The NNL is not recognized by north Korea, which claims that the line should be drawn further south. The disputed maritime border was the scene of deadly clashes in 1999, 2002, 2009 and last March when a south Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, participating in the Foal Eagle joint war games, went down, claiming the lives of 46 sailors, under circumstances which remain controversial.
China and Russia have cautioned against escalation. But emerging from meetings in the underground bunker of the Blue House on Tuesday President Lee remarked, "I think the (south Korean) Army, the Navy and the Air Force should unite and retaliate against (the north's) provocation with multiple-fold firepower," according to a Yonhap news agency report. And Tuesday evening President Obama and President Lee agreed to hold war exercises starting November 28 that will "include sending the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of accompanying ships into the region, both to deter further attacks by the north and to signal to China that unless it reins in its unruly ally it will see an even larger American presence in the vicinity," according to journalist, Mark McDonald (New York Times, November 24, 2010).
The frequency of U.S.-South Korea joint exercises in the West Sea increased dramatically in the aftermath of the sinking of the Cheonan. While threatening to retaliate against the drills, and actually firing artillery rounds into the ocean last summer, north Korea also released a U.S. citizen held captive for entering the country illegally, into the custody of President Jimmy Carter. During Carter's humanitarian visit, it also proposed to restart diplomatic negotiations to pursue the denuclearization of the peninsula and replace the Korean War truce with a peace treaty. However the continuation of joint exercises, which is intended to send a stern message to north Korea, has clearly produced an unexpected outcome. North Korea is no longer firing artillery rounds into the water. If the Obama and Lee administrations believed that north Korea would not venture to fire upon superior military might, that has proven to be a tragic miscalculation. The lesson of Tuesday's exchange of fire is that continuation of military posturing by combined U.S. and south Korean forces is likely to escalate armed conflict on the peninsula, and possibly in the region.
As an alternative to military escalation, Stanford professor and nuclear expert, Siegfried Hecker had this to say in his report "A Return Trip to North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Complex," published November 20, 2010 by Stanford University, after touring north Korea's experimental light water reactor construction site on November 12, 2010:"It is clear that waiting patiently for Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party talks on terms acceptable to the United States and its allies will exacerbate the problem. A military attack is out of the question. Tightening sanctions further is likewise a dead end, particularly given the advances made in their nuclear program and the economic improvements we saw in general in Pyongyang. The only hope appears to be engagement. The United States and its partners should respond to the latest nuclear developments so as to encourage Pyongyang to finally pursue nuclear electricity in lieu of the bomb. That will require addressing north Korea's underlying insecurity. A high-level north Korean government official told us that the October 2000 Joint Communiqué, which brought Secretary Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang, is a good place to start."
President Carter has also urged again a return to diplomacy in a Washington Post Op-ed, "North Korea's Consistent Message to the U.S.," (November 24, 2010). He wrote that during his visit to Pyongyang in July high ranking officials made clear that north Korea is ready "to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the 'temporary' cease-fire of 1953." They also clarified that its uranium enrichment program "would be 'on the table' for discussions with the U.S," Carter explained.
North Korea's resolve to defend itself from what it perceives as hostile policies and war games of the U.S. and the Lee Myung Bak administration is evident in its development of a nuclear arsenal and in its response to the military exercises on November 23. It is abundantly clear that the U.S.-South Korean determination to contain north Korea by a repeated show of force is moribund, and extremely risky. It is time to exercise restraint and get back to negotiations with north Korea lest the cycle of retaliation upon retaliation, leading to all-out war, be unbroken.
Paul Liem is Board Chairperson of the Korea Policy Institute.
Amid high tensions in the Korean Peninsula, China has called for an emergency meeting of the six countries involved in the Six-Party Talks nearly 20 months after the last negotiations broke off in April 2009. Chinese officials said on November 28 that the emergency meeting is not a proposal to resume the Six-Party Talks on the nuclear issue and is instead meant to diffuse current tensions.
The Six-Party Talks bring together the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, south Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. "Although the proposed consultations do not mean the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, we hope they will create conditions for their resumption," said Wu Dawei, China's special representative on Korean affairs. "The members of the Six-Party Talks are deeply concerned with the situation in the Korean Peninsula," Wu said.
On December 1, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the most pressing task regarding tensions on the Korean Peninsula is to prevent any escalation and avoid any actions that would "inflame the situation."
"The parties concerned should keep calm and exercise restraint, and work to bring the situationback onto the track of dialogue and negotiation," he said while addressing a forum in Beijing. Yang's remarks came after the U.S. and south Korea launched a four-day joint war drill in waters west of the divided peninsula.
"Showing power and confrontation is not a solution to problems and not in the interests of related parties," Yang said. "China is highly concerned about the current situation." He added, "Stability on the Korean Peninsula is conducive to all; chaos there is detrimental to all." Yang reiterated China’s proposal for an emergency consultation among the heads of delegations to the Six-Party Talks in Beijing in early December. The talks group China, south and north Korea, Russia Japan and the U.S. Yang said the emergency consultations would "help ease the current tensions and create conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks."
He emphasized, "We will make continued efforts to encourage all parties to work together to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia."
As part of these diplomatic efforts, Yang held phone conversations with counterparts from south Korea, the United States, Russia and Japan. He also met with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Ambassador to China Chi Jae Ryong. Choe Tae Bok, chairman of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, began a five-day visit to China on November 30, at the invitation of Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China. Wu said it was his third meeting with Choe this year. "Three meetings in a year reflected our special relations," Wu said, adding he expected Choe's visit to boost bilateral relations, including ties between the legislatures. Choe will discuss the bilateral relationship, inter-parliamentary exchanges, and issues of common concern during his visit and also travel to northeast China's Jilin Province.
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo Sunday talked over the phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about recent events on the Korean Peninsula, saying China and the United States should help ease tensions and facilitate dialogue. Akitaka Saiki, Japan's chief negotiator to the Six-Party Talks, held talks in Beijing with Wu Dawei, Chinese special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs.
Participants at the forum echoed Yang's remarks, saying the maintenance of peace and stability is the priority for the region.
Russia Opposes Escalation of Tensions
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula and the necessity of not allowing it to escalate. "It is of utmost necessity not to allow the further escalation of the situation and work toward the creation of conditions to ease the tension in relations between the two Koreas," the statement read.
In related news Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated on November 26 that: "We hold a consistent and clear-cut stance on the issue. We oppose any party undertaking any military activity in our exclusive economic zone without permission." Under the international law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is an area of the sea where a state has special rights for exploration and use of marine resources. It extends 200 nautical miles from a state's coastline. Hong urged all parties to help ease tension and safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.