Veterans Call for De-escalation, Negotiations, and Peace on the Korean Peninsula

Veterans For Peace, a U.S. based organization with international chapters in Japan and Okinawa, calls on the governmental leaders of the U.S., the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, aka North Korea), the Republic of Korea (ROK, aka South Korea) and Japan to stop their escalation of threatening words and actions, and begin negotiations toward the signing of the long-awaited Peace Treaty putting a final end to the Korean War.

Any attempt to solve the issues dividing the Korean Peninsula by warfare would bring disaster not only to the people living there, but also to all the people living in Northeast Asia. 

Retired General Gary Luck, Former Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, has estimated that such a war would leave one million dead.  And what would be the aim of this war?  Each side is threatening to make war on the other to punish it for threatening to make war.  This is the behavior of schoolyard bullies, armed not with knives and clubs but nuclear weapons.  This catastrophic war is avoidable, and must be avoided.

In understanding the background to this situation, it should be remembered that the DPRK has been under nuclear threat from the U.S. ever since the Korean War in the 1950s. That their government has in recent years taken to threatening nuclear retaliation to any attacker is a wildly dangerous and morally condemnable policy, but it is not unique to the DPRK.  It is a policy, invented by the U.S. and adopted by every country that possesses nuclear weapons, called “nuclear deterrence”.  Every criticism heaped upon the DPRK for following this policy applies equally to every country possessing nuclear weapons.

Each year the U.S. and the ROK carry out joint military exercises right up against the DPRK border, and based on the scenario of an invasion of that country. 

Every year the DPRK, which unsurprisingly considers this a threat, protests with verbal counter-threats and, recently, missile launchings. 

This year, the U.S. and Japan carried out joint military exercises at the same time as the U.S.-ROK exercises. Rhetoric has escalated. U.S. President Donald Trump threatened “fire and fury like the world has never seen”, and stated that “all options are on the table”, which means a pre-emptive strike is being considered.  DPRK leader Kim Jong Un threatened to launch missiles aimed at the vicinity of Guam.  Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe threatened to send Japan’s Self Defense Forces along with any U.S.  invasion of the North, which would spell the final end of Japan’s Peace Constitution.  Kim Jong Un responded by sending a missile over northern Japan – though not, as was claimed, violating Japan’s airspace, as when it passed over Japan it was in outer space, at an elevation even higher than that of the many satellites that legally pass over Japan every day.

Prime Minister Abe, however, took advantage of the situation by calling a state of emergency in northern Japan, commandeering the national broadcasting system NHK, and also the cell-phone system, to urge people take shelter from the alleged impending attack by moving to the basements of concrete buildings (few buildings have these). Presumably Abe is hoping that the resulting panic will help him to promote his militarization plans, and in particular to gain support for his purchases of expensive counter-missile commodities. (It is noteworthy that during this “state of emergency” the trains, including the bullet trains, were kept running.)

This gambling with the lives of millions has got to stop.  And there is a way to stop it.  DPRK, while carrying out its threatening nuclear tests and missile launchings, has repeatedly said it wants to negotiate a peace treaty ending the Korean War, which the U.S. has been refusing.  But a peace treaty is a very good idea, the signing of which would allow the many hundreds of millions of people living in Northeast Asia to breathe a sigh of relief.  Veterans For Peace calls on the U.S. Government to accept this offer, and to begin negotiations with the DPRK aiming at signing such a treaty and normalizing relations between the DPRK and the ROK.

And as the governments of the relevant countries seem locked into their present self-destructive policies, we call upon the citizens of those countries, who surely do not want a meaningless nuclear war where they live, to demand that their governments back off and begin negotiations, which are the only way to bring peace to the region.

Written by Veterans For Peace, VFP Japan and Okinawa VFP

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