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US Hegemony over Korean Peninsula Challenged by North Korea, and by New South Korean President

Washington can only delay, but not halt North Korea's self-defense advances

Conn Hallinan describes a scene: “A recent study found that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan using Hiroshima-sized weapons would generate a nuclear winter that would make it impossible to grow wheat in Russia and Canada and cut the Asian Monsoon’s rainfall by 10 percent. The result would be up to 100 million deaths by starvation. Imagine what the outcome would be if the weapons were the size used by Russia, China, or the U.S.” (“America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World, by Conn Hallinan”, Counterpunch, April 28, 2017.)

The red line for North Korea is: sovereignty and self-determination. And if it takes nuclear weapons to deter the great powers, so be it.

Rarely do we see North Korea openly critical of China. Kim Chol’s angry remarks carried by the official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday May 3 as president Trump was pressuring China to increase the pain inflicted on North Korea was thus unusual: “One must clearly understand that the D.P.R.K.’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken… And that the D.P.R.K. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is.” The North accused China making “lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S.” (North Korean Media, in Rare Critique of China, Says Nuclear Program Will Continue”, by Choe Sang-hun, New York Times, May 4, 2017.)

Kim Jung-un, being “a smart kid,” as Trump called him, is well aware of what happened to Maummar al-Qaddafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein of Iraq for having surrendered their nuclear weapons programs. As Hillary Clinton put it, “I came, I saw, and he [al-Qaddafi] died.” She is no Julius Caesar but decided to co-opt his famous “veni, vidi, vici.”

Interestingly, Moon Jae-in, the most likely next president of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is also saying that South Korea needs to say to the United States. That is also unusual. Moon’s advocacy of “[South Korean] National Interest First” policy is striking a responsive chord among the voters.

Moon is calling for 1) renegotiating the THAAD agreement of the recently impeached Park Geun-hye’s administration with the US; 2) renegotiating the Operational War Time Control (OPCON) policy, a fundamental anomaly whereby the US nullified South Korea’s sovereignty by being a hegemonic overlord controlling the South’s military dating back to the beginning of the Korean War under the fig leaf of the UN Command; and 3) renegotiating Park Geun-hye administration’s “comfort women” agreement with Japan. (See also “The United States Should Listen to South Korea – or It Will Reap the Whirlwind,” by Tim Shorrock, The Nation, May 5, 2017.)

Jason Lim, a 36-year-old South Korean engineer living in Washington, DC, thinks “it’s important to try and maintain a solid alliance with the United States – but not at any cost…”

Lim and many South Koreans, both in Korea and living in the US, say their country has been reduced to a pawn in a superpower game of chess as the United States and China seek to tackle North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile programs.

story | by Dr. Radut