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Issue #1810      February 14, 2018

Editorial

Peace games versus war games

In the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang last Saturday, delegates from South Korea and the People’s Republic of Korea (the DPRK or North Korea) marched under a common flag.

Smiling, South Korean President Moon Jae-In shook hands with the sister of DPRK President Kim Jong-Un, and hundreds of volunteers took the stage holding peace candles. President Moon calls the Games “The Olympics of peace”.

Those developments are extremely significant, because the Korean War fought between 1950 and 1953 has never formally ended.

In 1953, after three years of war instigated by the United States, the Korean communists led by Kim Il Sung and supported by China and the Soviet Union, forced the US and the reactionary South Korean government to accept a cease-fire.

But the US refused to negotiate a peace treaty. To sign such a document would constitute an admission of defeat. Since then, successive Washington presidential regimes have all refused to enter into negotiations for a Korean peace treaty.

Moreover, each year South Korea, the US and its allies conduct war games near the cease-fire line, with the stated intention of preparing to invade and conquer the DPRK, potentially with the loss of millions of lives.

The war-games participants, including Australia, the US and Japan, have all been involved in past military invasions of Korea. In defence, the DPRK has armed itself with missiles allegedly capable of hitting US territory, and with nuclear weapons. It is certainly a setback in the struggle against nuclear proliferation, yet the US has forced the issue by constantly subjecting the DPRK to threats, war games and sanctions.

The antagonism between the US and the DPRK has become a massive diplomatic ulcer. The extremely bellicose behaviour of President Trump threatens to engulf many nations, possibly including Russia and China, in another major international conflict over the Korean Peninsula (see statement “Stop the drive to war”).

And that includes Australia. Because of its role as the US “deputy sheriff”, and because of the crucial importance to the US of the Pine Gap communications facility in the Northern Territory, Australia would be one of the first nations targeted in any multi-nation conflict over Korea, including a nuclear war.

That doesn’t worry US President Trump, who recently tweeted with regard to the DPRK “Talking is not the answer”.

John Menadue, former Australian ambassador to Japan, has observed:

“Apart from brief isolationist periods the US has been almost perpetually at war, wars that we have often foolishly been drawn into. The US has subverted and overthrown numerous governments over two centuries. It has a military and business complex, almost a ‘hidden state’, that depends on war for influence and enrichment.

“It believes in its ‘manifest destiny’ which brings with it an assumed moral superiority denied to others. As the US goes into relative economic decline it will ask its allies such as Australia for more help and support. We are running great risks in committing so much of our future to the US.”

The Ancient Olympic Games were held in ancient Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The Wenlock Olympic Games, the forerunner to the modern Olympic Games, commenced in 1850. The Korean Winter Games bring promise of an easing in relations of the 65-year festering hostility, with the DPRK inviting the South Korean President to visit Pyongyang for a summit meeting.

But convincing the US to back off will require Australia, one of its most trusted allies, to refuse unequivocally to participate in any renewed Korean conflict.

The Turnbull Coalition government will never do that, so if we want to contribute to the struggle for peace in the Korean peninsula we must replace it with a new government that will.

Participation in the Winter Games is of vital importance. The struggle to develop weapons capable of deterring an attack by the US has stunted the national development of the DPRK and forced its people to live in constant fear of annihilation.

Its contestants may or may not win a medal. But the eyes of the people of the DPRK are on peace, and that’s the biggest prize of all – for them and for us.

Next article – “An affront to democracy”

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