The New Worker

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Week commencing 10th January 2003

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Storm clouds over Asia

IMPERIALISM IS TURNING its greedy eye once again to the Korean peninsula. American imperialism, backed up as usual by the Blair government, is mouthing off against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, threatening Democratic Korea over a "nuclear" issue entirely of Washington's creation.

None of this would have happened had the Bush administration stuck to the framework agreement that resolved a similar crisis in 1994. The Clinton administration promised to build two light-water nuclear reactors and provide oil supplies in exchange for the north Koreans mothballing their existing graphite reactors, which the Americans claimed could be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Eight years later and next to nothing has been done to construct the new nuclear power stations. And though the United States and their ally, Japan, supplied some oil, it was frequently delayed to avoid delivery during the winter months when north Korea needed it the most. Now imperialist supplies of oil have been stopped altogether.

The DPRK repeatedly warned that if the new reactors were not built the whole deal would collapse. And that's what's happened. The Bush government had no intention of keeping the word of past American governments. And the most reactionary elements of the American capitalist class, those who put Bush and his cronies into office, are once again trying to establish their "new world order", which means nothing more than American world domination.

The people of south Korea showed their opposition to US plans at their elections in December, rejecting the craven anti-communist politicians of past and giving the Millennium Democrats another term of office. The new south Korean government has pledged to continue the "sunshine" policy of rapprochement with the north. On the streets of south Korea the masses are demonstrating their anger at US war-threats and the continuing presence of thousands of US troops.

Bush and Blair's spin merchants - the hired media hands and academic crawlers of imperialism - talk about Democratic Korea's "nuclear threat". What they don't say, is that this "threat" is not perceived by the south Korean government, whose capital, Seoul, is only a few kilometres away from the armistice line which had divided the country since the end of the Korean War.

What they don't tell us is that south Korea, with a slightly milder climate than the north, has 16 nuclear power stations up and running and four more under construction. Nor do they say much about the presence of some 37,000 US troops in south Korea, or the weapons of mass destruction which the Americans can deploy at a moments notice from their nuclear-armed armada off the Korean coast.

Bush wants to force Democratic Korea to grovel to imperialism. He also wants to show the south Koreans and their government who is master in north-east Asia. But the people of the north, led by the  Kim Jong Il and the Workers Party of Korea, have never been cowed by war or threats of war.

 From 1950 to 1953 the Korean people fought Anglo-American imperialism and their lackeys to their knees. Millions of Korean people and a million Chinese People's Army volunteers died in the struggle to halt the advance of US-led imperialism. Tens of thousands of US troops also died in this senseless war which ended with the United States no better off than when it started the Korean War.

Democratic Korea has called for direct talks with the United States stating that the nuclear issue could easily be resolved if both sides signed a non-aggression treaty.

This has been predictably rejected by Washington.

The Blair government, which has failed to shift public opposition to an attack against Iraq, has nevertheless joined in the act by echoing Bush's words.  Now Blair simply seeks to portray war itself as an inevitable and a normal process in international relations - largely the purpose of Blair's gloom and doom New Year address. This exercise in hypocrisy, coming from a government that brands militant workers as "wreckers" for daring to exert their right to strike, is no surprise.

More and more people are voicing their opposition to an invasion of Iraq and confrontation in Korea. Religious leaders including the Pope and the new Archbishop of Canterbury have joined the roar of anger of the peace movement that is sweeping Western Europe. War is not inevitable. Working people, who always pay for imperialist wars through their blood and their taxes, can and must stop the imperialist onslaught.


Lead story


Stop the warmongers

by Daphne Liddle

AS THE UNITED States and Britain gear up for their planned attack on Iraq, so opposition to the war is growing around the world.

  The imperialist powers are trying to isolate and destroy those countries that have the nerve to stand up to them, like Iraq and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, one by one.

 But as they do so, those countries are winning the support of all those around the world who are waking up to the obscenity of the greed and power lust of the US government and its lackeys.

 Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon ordered the biggest British naval task force since the Gulf War to prepare to set sail on Saturday, comprising 3,000 Royal marines and about 2,000 sailors.

 This is just the first wave of the British deployment, which is expected to bring the total British presence in the region to 20,000 in a few weeks. This includes the call up of 1,500 reservists.

 Meanwhile the US is pouring some 50,000 troops into the area and French President Jacques Chirac has put French forces in alert in case they too become involved.

 All this is happening in spite of the United Nations inspectors having open access to anywhere in Iraq the want - yet still finding weapons of mass destruction.

 They cannot find what does not exist and the imperialist powers know this. They have no shred of justification for attacking Iraq but they are determined to do so nonetheless.

 All the time the US and Britain and the right wing media insist that these weapons do exist and that will be their excuse for invasion - even though Iraq has challenged the CIA too come to Iraq and show where these imaginary weapons are, without response.

 Saddam Hussein last Monday accused he UN inspectors of spying for the US, of not really being interested in finding weapons of mass destruction - which they all know don't exist - so much as making detailed notes about Iraq's defence systems so the US knows what to bomb and where when and if hostilities begin.

 The planned invasion is of course really about oil. The rich oil barons who propelled George W Bush to power want their pay-off.

 During the last week, the Americans have said they plan to occupy Iraq after the invasion "for at least 18 months" but that their first priority will be to seize the oil fields "to get them up and running again for the sake of the world's economy".

 They are even trying to get Turkey on board by dangling the prospect that it might be able to stake a claim to oil fields in northern Iraq.

 Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis is even now busy rummaging through treaties of the early 20th century to find support for a Turkish claim to oilfields around Mosul and Kirkuk, which were once ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

 The workers of Turkey think differently. According to a press statement from the "No War on Iraq Co-ordination" group, on 30 December more than 150 Turkish organisations called on the Turkish government not to be drawn into supporting the US war against he people of Iraq.

 The appeal was made by delegates attending a conference aboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in Istanbul.

 They publicised a recent opinion poll which showed that 90 per cent of people in Turkey are opposed to Turkey joining in the war and 89 per cent are opposed to Turkey allowing the US to use its bases or seaports or deploying US troops in Turkey.

 They pointed out that no foreign troops have been based in Turkey since the Crimean War.

 The spokesperson for the coalition, Mehmet Ali Alabora, said: "We are here on a ship called Esperanza, that means hope in Spanish. We still hope for peace and we are raising this call on behalf of all those who oppose a war against Iraq.

 "The list of international treaties on peace and environmental issues that the US is blocking indicates that the US has set itself above international law.

 "We must all remember that in December 2001, the US officially withdrew from the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty, gutting the land mark agreement.

 "This is the first time in the nuclear era that the US renounced a major arms control accord.

"The US is either blocking or sabotaging international treaties on social, environmental and peace issues. This attitude is a serious threat to world peace. We believe that not only Iraq but also the US must respect international law."

Workers' organisations in India are also pressing their government to oppose the war. The politbureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued a statement calling for a clear stand on Iraq.

 It said: "An official of the United States administration has stated that the US will continue to consult India on its preparations for war against Iraq.

 "Richard Haass of the US State department has further said that the US would also ask India for co-operation for its military aggression on Iraq.

 "He has justified this approach by stating that India is a natural partner an ally. The US official has also met the external affairs minister, Yashwant Sinha.

 "There has been no official disavowal of these remarks. The external affairs minister had earlier stated in parliament that India is for a peaceful resolution of the problem through the forum of the United Nations.

 "In the absence of a categorical assertion that India is opposed to any military action against Iraq, there are sufficient grounds to believe that the Vajpayee government is tacitly adopting a posture of co-operation with the illegal and aggressive acts of the United States against Iraq.

 "The politbureau of the CPI(M) demands that the Vajpayee government come out with a clear statement opposing the preparations for war being made by the US and Britain against Iraq."

 Nearer to home, the new Archbishop of Canterbury has made his opposition to the war plain. And last weekend South African Bishop Desmond Tutu joined him in condemning the US aggression.

 A convoy of anti-war activists, including dozens from Britain, plans to leave London this month for Iraq to act as human shields protecting strategic sites in Iraq.

 The convoy is organised by former US marine Kenneth Nichols who served in the first Gulf War.

 The activists expect to arrive in Iraq around 24 January when they will identify infrastructure targets such as power stations, key bridges and roads and deploy themselves as human shields.

 Mr Nichols said: "Basically, I don't thin anyone will be too happy about bombing somewhere which they see being protected by many north Americans or Europeans."

 But he recognised: "In going to Iraq, I understand full well that I likely will not survive a US invasion."

 Matt Barr, one of the British members of the team, said: "I don't like the term human shield but ordinary Iraqis need to know there are people in the international community supporting them."

 Meanwhile the government of Democratic Korea recently sent UN inspectors of its nuclear power programme packing - for much the same reasons as the Saddam cited above. They are thinly veiled military spies of the US looking for vulnerabilities to attack.

 The US has thrown its hands in the air and threatened continued sanctions against Korea - but is plainly reluctant to launch a military attack on Korea right now.

 One US military expert admitted that the Korean armed forces, combined with the country's mountainous terrain, made a formidable deterrent to invasion.
For its part, the DPRK simply wants the imperialists to leave it well alone to develop its much-needed electricity power supplies.

 The people of the DPRK proudly boast that in Korea's 6,000-year history, it has never so much as thrown a stone at any other nation and there is no evidence it would ever want to.

 Anyone who has visited the country can see plainly that its military efforts have gone into defensive structures. It has no plans to attack but certainly it is capable of inflicting swingeing blows on any attacker.

 Furthermore the elected government of south Korea, the American-occupied section of the country, is growing ever more uneasy with the growing aggression of the occupiers.

 It has refused to back Bush in his verbal attacks and threats against the DPRK.

 South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung has called for peace talks, saying: "We cannot go to war with North Korea and we can't go back to the Cold War system an extreme confrontation."

And he warned the US, in a carefully worded speech: "Pressure and isolation have never been successful with communist countries - Cuba is one example."

 Far from communist countries being politically isolated now, it is the US and its British lackeys who are becoming more and more isolated.

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