The situation on the Korean Peninsula is currently very tense, and even a small incident may lead to a full-scale war even if none of the parties want it. And the US should better try to normalize relations, anti-war activist Brian Becker told RT.
The activist from the ANSWER Coalition believes the North Korean
nuclear program is purely defensive, and following US sanctions on
the country, compares the American policies on the peninsula with
those in Iraq and Libya – not the road to peace, but to an
RT: Prior to the sanctions being announced, North Korea threatened to use a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US. How likely is that to happen?
Brian Becker: No, it’s not likely to happen. North
Koreans realize that the US, with 3,000 operational and 7,000
nuclear weapons overall, would, as Colin Powell said in 1995 when
he was threatening North Korea, turn their country into a charcoal
briquette. In other words, the overwhelming power of the American
nuclear machine is great indeed. But I think we have to step back
and see what’s really going on because the North Koreans realize
that the United States’ strategy with the right-wing government in
South Korea in pressuring China, North Korea’s traditional ally, to
go along with the program because I think China fears, after the
Asia pivot, that there’s growing danger of an actual war in the
Pacific to isolate North Korea.
But what has North Korea done? North Korea has carried out a
nuclear test, the third. But they’re responding to the major,
massive US military exercises that are conducted in a way to stage
a mock invasion and bombing of their country – the country that was
indeed invaded. Twenty years ago – in fact, exactly 20 years ago –
the US strategic command said, “We’re reorienting US hydrogen bombs
away from the Soviet Union” - this was after the demise of the USSR
– and are now targeting North Korea. And that’s when the DPRK
withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and began building with
earnestness its own nuclear capacity.
RT: And is this nuclear capacity though a threat to
the region as well as other parts of the world? The anti-missile
system in Eastern Europe is being described as defensive action
against North Korea – is it really a threat?
BB: Well it’s not a threat in the sense I spoke about a
moment ago, the US has such a preponderance of force. But the North
Koreans, interestingly in February, just a month ago, said the
lesson of the Libyan and the Iraq invasion that happened 10 years
ago when the US either invaded or bombed governments that were
targeted, that both of those governments had agreed to disarm, had
abandoned any weapons of mass destruction, and the North Korean
interpretation of that is, if you disarm, the US will say, “Thank
you, let’s have peace”, but the US will say, “Thank you, now we can
prepare more aggressively for an invasion or a bombing
North Korea is determined not to let that happen, and that’s how
they view the development of their nuclear arsenal – it’s strictly
defensive, it’s not a threat.
RT: The US has threatened even tougher measures if
these newest sanctions fail to stop Pyongyang from more nuclear
tests. What else can they do short of military action?
BB: I think the economic sanctions are having a very big
impact. The US is now basically depriving North Korea of access to
international banking. They’re doing it to Korea, and they hope if
they can break China, they will do it to Korea what they did to
Iraq as a precursor to regime change. Again, I think what needs to
happen is that the US needs to stop threatening North Korea. It
needs to sign a peace treaty, which it refuses to do, and actually
end the Korean War, rather than just armistice, which was on July
26, 1953, 60 years ago. They need to lift the sanctions, and they
need to normalize relations. That almost happened in the last eight
days of the Clinton administration, it was the beginning of a thaw,
the US could go by that road, but it seems that the Obama
administration is acting a lot like George W. Bush.
RT: As you say, the dialogue is the only way forward.
But there’s been a lot of rhetoric and military action to get Iran
over its perceived nuclear threat. We’re not actually seeing the
same sort of rhetoric over North Korea, are we?
BB: I actually think that the Korean Peninsula is so hot,
so tense, it’s the most heavily-militarized part of the world. Even
though none of the countries, none of the parties want a full-scale
war, any small incident in the Korean Peninsula could lead to both
sides stepping on the escalation ladder. That’s how wars start,
even when there’s no intention for war. The need now is to reduce
tensions, and the onus for that is not on North Korea which is not
threatening the US, it’s the US that should stop carrying out war
games simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea and lift
RT: China has actually cooperated with the US, and the
UN over this latest round of sanctions. That’s an interesting move,
is it not?
BB: I think it’s a clear result of China pursuing an
appeasement foreign policy with the US after the Obama
administration announced the pivot of Asia. It’s gonna be in the
Pacific waters. The US is militarizing its presence in the Pacific,
China is very worried that the Korean Peninsula could become a
spark causing a larger conflagration right on its own boundaries.
So they’re upset with North Korea, but North Korea isn’t listening
to China, they’re not thinking mainly about China, they’re
thinking, “How do we avoid being collapsed, either by economic
sanctions, or military pressure, or combination of both?” I
actually think that the Korean Peninsula is so hot, so tense, it’s
the most heavily-militarized part of the world. Even though none of
the countries, none of the parties want a full-scale war, any small
incident in the Korean Peninsula could lead to both sides stepping
on the escalation ladder. That’s how wars start, even when there’s
no intention for war. The need now is to reduce tensions, and the
onus for that is not on North Korea which is not threatening the
US, it’s the US that should stop carrying out war games simulating
the invasion and bombing of North Korea and lift sanctions.