The main nuclear enemy is at home
THANKS TO Owen Miller for his excellent overview of the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea ("Trump's game of chicken with North Korea").
He explains clearly why North Koreans have no reason to trust the U.S. government after the U.S. destroyed the country in the 1950s, and imposed economic sanctions and military threats since. He rightly points out the way forward: "Obviously we want to see a world entirely free of nuclear weapons, but such a world will only be achieved with the disarmament of the big nuclear powers, the U.S., Russia and China, not by the disarmament of nuclear minnows like North Korea."
This is why Owen's suggestion for what the antiwar movement should demand is so disappointing. He writes: "Antiwar movements around the world should be demanding immediate peace talks, based initially on a compromise such as the 'freeze for freeze' suggested by China and others. This would see North Korea freeze its nuclear and missile programs in return for the U.S. freezing its military exercises on the Korean peninsula."
The demand for peace talks over North Korea weapons contradicts Owen's point that the main issue is "disarmament of the big nuclear powers...not disarmament of nuclear minnows like North Korea."
The U.S. is the world's main imperialist power. Besides engaging in and threatening war around the world, it uses that power to defend the interests of its corporations and profit over human need generally. As the main imperial power, the U.S. has no morally defensible right to impose its will on anyone--with military force, economic sanctions or diplomatic negotiations.
The U.S. demanding to negotiate with North Korea over its weapons is like burglars invading your home and then demanding to negotiate over whether to steal your TV or computer. If the burglars have no right to steal, they have no right to negotiate over what they'll steal. If the U.S. has no right to dominate North Korea, it has no right to negotiate over exactly how it will dominate it.
Besides this, negotiations can let the U.S. off the hook and be a prelude to war. If talks take place and then fail, the U.S. has an excuse for using military force. Many people who initially supported diplomacy will be pulled into supporting U.S. military action, weakening antiwar organizing.
North Korea has as much right to have nuclear weapons as the U.S.--especially since only the U.S. has ever killed people with nuclear weapons.
Since the U.S. is the main force for war in Northeast Asia, the best contribution antiwar activists can make to peace is to demand that the U.S. totally withdraw militarily and end all its pressure and sanctions. The only way to get the U.S. to back off at all is to put on maximum pressure for withdrawal and to build as much international solidarity as possible. This maximum pressure is undermined if we accept the right of the U.S. to dictate terms to North Korea.
Antiwar activists should oppose all attempts by the U.S., to impose its will, not support some and oppose others. Our demands should not be "immediate peace talks," but " U.S. out of Korea! End the sanctions! End the military threats against North Korea!"
Steve Leigh, Seattle