The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) joins the Korean people and the people of the world in condemning the nine-day war games conducted by the military of the US and South Korea that started on March 8.
The war games have historically been rehearsals for war with, or invasion of, North Korea. They have in the past involved tens of thousands of troops, heavy strategic bombers that can drop nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers that are nuclear powered, submarines that carry nuclear weapons, long-range artillery and high-caliber armaments. They have meant military maneuvers near the 38th Parallel and North Korea’s airspace and territorial waters.
The claims of the US and South Korean governments about this year’s war games — that these are “annual” and involved only a “computer-simulated command post exercise” that is “strictly defensive” in nature, that these did not involve outdoor maneuver and the number of troops and equipment deployed were minimized — do not change their aggressive nature. They raise tensions between the US and South Korea on the one hand and North Korea on the other.
This year’s war games show that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the various crises that it has exposed and exacerbated, the geopolitical interests and objectives of US imperialism in the Korean peninsula remain the same: regime change in North Korea. Instead of spending much-needed resources to fight the pandemic and provide relief to the poor and marginalized, the US government chose to proceed with these costly and wasteful war games. The war games show that despite new US president Joe Biden’s promise of promoting peace as foreign policy, his administration is fundamentally the same as, if not worse than, his predecessors in advancing US imperialist interests in the Korean peninsula.
The war games run counter, and are detrimental, to efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and bring unity and peace to the Korean people — efforts which heightened and generated hope starting in 2018. The war games this year should not have been held at all, consistent with efforts to reduce their scale in the previous years, which aimed to create favorable conditions for negotiations for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. They are consistent with former US president Donald Trump’s February 2019 rejection of North Korean appeals for relief from economic sanctions in exchange for nuclear capability reduction. They also ignore North Korea’s positive responses to previous suspensions of the war games.
The ILPS condemns the premise for the war games: the transfer of wartime operational control from the US military to the South Korean military. The US’ authority to control both US and South Korean military forces in case a war breaks out in the Korean peninsula, and the consequent stationing of more than 28,000 US troops in South Korea, are deplorable remnants of the 1950-1953 Korean war, which caused so much suffering to the Korean people and divided them. These are disgusting instances of US’ maintenance of imperialist control over South Korea and South Korea’s surrender of its sovereignty to the US. The very idea that these war games must be held so that South Korea can prove to the US its capacity to deter North Korea from attacking clearly pits the two countries against each other.
The war games were held despite opposition from the government of North Korea, the peoples of South Korea and the US as represented by various organizations, and advocates of peace in the Korean peninsula from all over the world. They are an insulting rebuff to the government of North Korea which, in reaction, has threatened to abrogate a military agreement with South Korea and dissolve organizations aimed at fostering cooperation, dialogue and understanding between the two countries.
The ILPS unites with the Korean people and the people of the world who are condemning these war games, and are calling for an end to such war games, for the junking of the wartime operational control pretext for the war games, and for the removal of the US troops and bases in South Korea. It also unites with the Korean people and the people of the world who dream of, and struggle for, a genuine closure to the 70-year old Korean war — Korean reunification in the context of peace, justice, genuine independence and democracy.
March 22, 2021