Wrong Views of the North/South Korean Conflict Prohibit Peace

Moon Jae-in is entering the office of the President of South Korea. His recent victory in the elections has signalled a shift in policy towards the DPRK and the US’s THAAD missile system. Moon claims that the South must “learn to say ‘no’ to the Americans.” What exactly that entails remains to be seen. If there is anything that history between the two countries has shown us, it’s that the South will carry out US interests in the region. These are big words by Moon, and they required big action to back them up.

One of the larger aspects of his campaign has been his support for the revival of the “Sunshine Policy” towards the DPRK. In his view, the past hostile stance towards the DPRK has not succeeded in diminishing their nuclear weapons program. They’re as dedicated as ever to produce the nuclear weapons necessary to ensure a deterrent against invasion by the US. Moon questions the decision to place the THAAD missile system in the country. He sees it as a move that will antagonise the situation further, not reduce it. His belief is that there should be dialogue and cooperation to ease tensions.  This path, he claims, will lead to this disarmament of nuclear weapons in the North.

But hasn’t this already been tried before? The Sunshine Policy was used from 1998 to 2008. As we can see it failed to stop the DPRK from developing nuclear weapons technology. The hard line approach from 1999 to 2017 has also failed to accomplish this goal. On what basis should we believe that the policy will work this time around? Moon has given no indication that he’ll carry it out differently than his predecessors have. Why is there a back and forth among these two policies when they have both failed to reach their stated objective?

They go around in circles over and over again with nothing ever being resolved. The goal of the imperialist powers is to have the DPRK abandon its nuclear ambitions. Nothing they have ever done has prevented the development or cancellation of weapons development. This becomes a point of frustration to many onlookers. They see the policy change back and forth. A soft diplomatic approach is used to no avail. Afterwards, a hard line threatening approach is taken with still no effect. Public opinion then shifts back to the softer approach. This cycle has been going on for decades with no appreciable success. Yet this pattern continues.

The question that many onlookers are asking is: why hasn’t either strategy worked? No approach to the situation has forced or convinced the DPRK to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Why? The answer lies in the incorrect base assumptions that are made regarding the conflict. The commonly held view is that the DPRK has developed such technology to simply go around threatening the world. This is what people really believe. Of course, the DPRK can’t actually accomplish anything by doing this, which makes this view by its opponents nonsensical. Of course, rather than acknowledge that their view of the DPRK is nonsensical, they instead allege that the DPRK (specifically its leadership) is nonsensical.

Given this view that the anti-DPRK community has, we can now see why the DPRK refuses to relinquish their nuclear technology makes no sense. Since the base assumption is false, the conclusion doesn’t make any sense. Simply believing that the DPRK is going around threatening people is wrongheaded it leads to people coming to a nonsense conclusion.

There is, of course, a far more rational explanation for the DPRK’s insistence: they’re worried about an invasion by the US. When we look at it this way, it makes perfect sense that they’re not willing to abandon their ability to deter invasion. When we start from a rational basis, we come to a rational explanation. The real question is: does the DPRK legitimately have something to fear from the US? Is their concern over imperialist invasion reasonable?

The answer can be found by looking at the history of the US itself. Throughout the country’s existence, there have been countless countries that have been invaded over the last two centuries. The US has been at war 222 years out of its 239-year history.  Of course, each of these armed conflicts has their own stories and explanation. Going into each one would be too much to take on here. The point is that they are constantly invading countries. They’re worried about the US doing something that it continually does. This is a rational basis for the DPRK to be concerned about an invasion. Now add in the fact that the two countries are still technically at war. Add in the fact that the US has been threatening the DPRK for decades. Who places sanctions on whom? Is it the DPRK harming the US? No, it is the opposite.

When we look at the situation rationally we see that the DPRK has a legitimate concern for their sovereignty and right to self-determination. Given this threat, it makes sense that the DPRK will not relinquish their weapons program. We now have a rational explanation for why both strategies for denuclearization have failed. We now also see why President Moon’s plan will not accomplish its goal.

There cannot be peace on the peninsula so long as the US continues its hostilities towards the DPRK. It is the US that is responsible for the tensions in the region. It is US imperialism that seeks confrontation with the DPRK. If it were up to the leadership of the DPRK, there would be no hostilities at all. People must accept that it is the US that is responsible for decades of hostilities and suffering. It is because of US imperialist ambitions that there can be no peace.