The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition called for “emergency protests” in Washington, DC and California last weekend to prevent a “new Korean War.” ANSWER had been one of the leading groups staging mass demonstrations against early U.S. military operations in Iran and Afghanistan, but their efforts petered out. The group’s opposition to American foreign policy has not slackened. Its statement issued Nov. 26 placed full blame for the Korean crisis on “the Obama administration and its South Korean client government led by the rabidly anti-communist President Lee Myung-bak.”
The crisis there is the result of a policy of deliberate provocation by the U.S. and South Korea over the past several months. These provocations are targeting both the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China, countries where the often-concealed but very real aim of U.S. leaders – Democrats and Republicans alike – is regime change.” This line is taken directly from Beijing’s hard-line rhetoric during the summer when the United States discussed holding joint exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, but did not do so. Still, ANSWER blames the allies for a “threatening message of escalation since China considers these waters to be part of its sovereign territory.
China’s claims are, however, illegal under the international law of the sea. The Yellow Sea is not Beijing’s territory or even “territorial waters.” China is attempting to convert its rights in a 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” into sovereign control, which is not a proper interpretation of the law. “We hold a consistent and clear-cut stance on the issue. We oppose any party to take any military actions in our exclusive economic zone without permission,” said a statement by the Foreign Ministry on Nov. 25. Yet, free navigation is allowed through any EEZ as the traditional use of international waters. It should also be noted that China is not the only country opening onto the Yellow Sea, South Korea does as well.
Throughout the summer, there were bellicose editorials in the state-run Chinese media about how any show of force against Pyongyang was a threat to China, and that Beijing needed weapons to “kill” American carriers. This union of interest between the two communist regimes recalled the earlier Korean War (1950-53) when Chinese troops intervened to prevent the collapse of North Korea after its failed invasion of South Korea.
But China’s claims run far beyond the Yellow Sea. There were a series of diplomatic disputes during the summer, as Beijing attempted to incorporate the South and East China seas into its domain. China held military exercises in all the adjacent waters, provoking a backlash that manifested itself at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in June at which the U.S. backed the smaller states against Chinese claims. The aircraft carrier George Washington and its escorts sailed through the South China Sea to support U.S. diplomacy just as it is doing today in the Yellow Sea.
There was no mention in the ANSWER discussion of the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan by a North Korea submarine last March with the loss of 46 lives. There was no retaliation against Pyongyang for this act of war, only the holding of military exercises meant to show the solidarity of the U.S.-ROK alliance. The deterrent effect of these maneuvers was weakened by President Barack Obama’s decision not to send a carrier group into the Yellow Sea where the Cheonan went down. Instead, operations were moved to the Sea of Japan away from China, a change that Beijing undoubtedly considered a victory.
The South Koreans did hold exercises in the Yellow Sea and ANSWER claimed this justified North Korea’s attack on Yeonpyeong island. That there is a major difference between practice firing weapons in the open sea and firing artillery at populated areas across a boundary was lost on ANSWER.
There was also no mention by ANSWER of Pyongyang’s revelation of a new uranium enrichment facility at its Yongbyon nuclear complex just days before it opened fire on Yeonpyeong. North Korea has conducted nuclear weapons tests and has fired long-range ballistic missiles in the direction of Japan. A group truly concerned about “ending war” should be appalled by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. But, of course, peace is not what ANSWER is about. Its aim is the defeat of American “imperialism” and it will embrace the cause of any group or country, from Islamic jihadists to Cold War communists, if they are acting against the United States. Given ANSWER’s deep roots in the Marxist Left, it is undoubtedly happy to have a new Korean crisis that allows it to again embrace fellow Stalinists.
As the ANSWER statement put it, “The real purpose of this monstrous military machine is to secure and further the interests of the U.S. corporate power and strategic domination in Asia and around the world. It is the enemy of the people of Korea, China, Japan and the people of the United States.”
Other leftists are parroting the ANSWER line. Justin Raimondo does so at Antiwar.com, concluding, “There is but one solution to the Korean conundrum: the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, who are being held hostage, in any event, by the prospect of a North Korean nuclear strike. Do we really want to sacrifice some 20,000 American soldiers on the altar of our cold war prerogatives? Without U.S. interference, the two Koreas would have reunified long ago.” Raimondo thus hits upon the motive for Pyongyang’s nuclear program: support for aggression to finally “win” the war it started in 1950. In this respect, appeasement and withdrawal is not an “anti-war” posture, it is a “pro-war” posture, as it would mean the abandonment of deterrence and an open invitation to invasion.
South Korea is an economic and political success story compared to the starvation and oppression that exists north of the 38th Parallel. It is an example of the benefits of an alliance with the United States, whose power has been indispensible to the unmatched progress of the “free world” for more than half a century.
Such an interpretation of history is unacceptable to those who hate America for its success. Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, opposes a missile defense network that would defend against nuclear weapons flying through space to attack American or allied targets. He writes, “The U.S. is outfitting Navy Aegis destroyers with ‘missile defense’ systems and activists in South Korea and Japan clearly understand the role of these warships in U.S. military strategy. The U.S. intends to use these MD systems to pick-off retaliatory strikes after a Pentagon first-strike attack on North Korea or China.”
Gagnon’s view of the past is also warped. He argues, “China must support North Korea because if that country is toppled then the U.S. would put military bases right on China’s border. This was an important reason for the Korean War in the first place, the U.S. wanted to take control of the entire Korean peninsula and thus have bases right alongside Russia and China.” Yet, the true origin of the war was that North Korea, backed by the USSR and PRC, tried to unify the peninsula by force in 1950 so Communist bases could be built closer to Japan.
The Cold War never ended in Northeast Asia; and neither ideology nor history have come to an end. The current crisis reveals again the domestic Left’s disloyalty to America and its alignment with the nation’s foreign adversaries.