North Korea/South Korea: US Policy at a Time of Crisis

This is the real war being fought at the moment, not the endless, futile ‘war on terror’ declared by Bush. It is the battle being waged by all of us on behalf of memory against the amnesia that the Empire would wish on us. In this war, Arundhati Roy is a courageous voice and an indomitable ally.

As the hawks in the US administration gaze with satisfaction at what they have wrought in Iraq, the world waits to see who will next receive the benefit of ‘full-spectrum dominance’. Since North Korea expelled UN inspectors and restarted its plutonium facility, Washington has ramped up the rhetoric against this pariah state to feverish levels. A nuclear war between the world’s only superpower and one of the poorest countries on the planet – albeit one with a million-strong army – is no longer unthinkable.

As an analysis of how we reached this point, John Feffer’s short but thorough book North Korea/South Korea could hardly be bettered. Feffer reminds us of the Korean peninsula’s pivotal position in Northeast Asia. United for 1,300 years until Japanese annexation in 1910, Korea has suffered constant invasion and domination by its larger neighbours. Divided after World War Two into the closed ‘barracks communist’ state of North Korea and the ‘Tiger’ economy of the South, Koreans are nevertheless bound by a common history and culture. It is Feffer’s contention that, left to their own devices, Koreans are fully capable of achieving reunification and the united country could become the engine of regional regeneration. The continuing standoff at the 38th Parallel is a result of Washington’s policy of ‘gunboat globalization’ and serves the economic and military interests of the US.

This admirable book looks beyond the Bush regime’s crisis-mongering about North Korea and proposes practical, sane solutions to turn this ‘hole in the heart of Asia’ into an economic and political beacon of hope. Is anyone listening?

New Internationalist issue 365 magazine cover This article is from the March 2004 issue of New Internationalist.
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