The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

North Korea:
Nuclear blackmail?
Yes, by the U.S.

Jan 20, 2003

President Bush, in another of his famous "turn-the-world-upside-down" statements, accused North Korea of using nuclear blackmail to get what it wants.

Nuclear blackmail? Yes, let's talk about it. Who holds its nuclear arsenal over the heads of the whole world? None other than the United States. Who, right now, is threatening war against Iraq for no other reason than demonstrating its military might? None other than the United States.

So don't come talking about military blackmail.

Bush also denounced the Koreans for withdrawing from the international nuclear proliferation treaty. If the U.S. finally signed that treaty, it was only because it had already "proliferated" its nuclear stores so that it had more such weapons than the whole rest of the world put together – enough to destroy the whole world many times over. The U.S. may have signed the treaty, but this didn't mean it was about to get rid of any of its advanced nuclear weapons – only the oldest, least useful ones.

What cynicism! Bush, himself, in May of 2001, went back on a U.S. commitment to sign the treaty banning biological weapons. The U.S. has never signed the international human rights treaty. And even though it did sign an international treaty that gives foreign nationals the right to see their own embassy before being brought into court in another country, the U.S. ignores this treaty it signed. It recently put to death a Mexican citizen, despite Mexico's protest, without ever having given the man this right.

We could go on and on about all the ways the U.S. ignores international treaties. (Let's not even waste time talking about the fact that these treaties, if the U.S. did sign them and respect them, would not prevent the U.S. from using its military might around the world to dominate the whole world.)

Finally, what provoked North Korea to take this step – threatening "nuclear blackmail," as Bush pretends? Simply the fact that Bush, coming into office, abrogated a treaty that had already been signed with North Korea, promising aid to build nuclear reactors useful for producing electricity, but not useful for producing bombs. So, North Korea simply proposed to start up a nuclear reactor which could do both.

And if Bush "gives in" to North Korea's "blackmail" – as he appears ready to do, despite his bellicose words – it will only be to sign another agreement which he knows he can rip up any time he wants.

Let's talk about why North Korea is so poor. First, of course, it was an underdeveloped country, and kept that way by the hold of European and Japanese colonialism over the whole area up through World War II. And its situation was made much worse by the decision, imposed by the U.S. and Britain, to divide Korea – which had been one country – into two separate countries at the end of the war. But what really devastated Korea was the war that the U.S. then carried out on its soil, in the air over its cities and in the water near its ports. In the North, industry was practically obliterated by massive U.S. bombing. Its ports were mined closed. Its land was left littered with unexploded ordinance. And, to drive in the stake, the U.S. continued a blockade and embargo for decades.

Is the world confronted by military blackmail today? Yes – carried out by the one big superpower in the world, the U.S., which today uses its military might to impose its order on the whole world for the sake of its capitalists who invest all over the world.