The contrast between the course of action being followed in the Near East versus the Machiavellian power moves being made in the Middle East reveals the bankruptcy of the war-is-our-only-option idea and affirms what the popular clergyman and author Max Lucado points out: “conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.”
How to deal with North Korea? A good starting point would be a re-evaluation of questionable policy decisions made over the last few decades, as East Asian specialist Chalmers Johnson suggested last week.
Johnson argues that U.S. policy-makers have enflamed tensions in the region “with (their) belligerent stance toward North Korea, including its rebuff of South Korean President Kim’s peace initiative (for which he won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize), the ‘axis of evil’ speech, the new National Security Strategy Directive…endorsing ‘preventive’ war…(and) the use of nuclear weapons in the interests of maintaining American hegemony.”
Why is South Korea complaining more about U.S. policy than about their kin to the north? Johnson says it’s largely because South Korea is “a genuine democracy, created in 1987 when Koreans revolted against 25 years of American-supported military dictators. The U.S. still has more than 100 military bases in South Korea…. How would we feel if it were reversed? Another source of resentment is the South Korean economic meltdown a few years ago, which was essentially caused by the IMF, largely controlled by the U.S. government. South Korea has recovered brilliantly but it still resents American interference and arrogance.”
What about Iraq? Let’s be clear. This isn’t about when we should we go to war? We’ve been at war with Iraq since 1991. The economic blockade, coupled with regular bombings in the no-fly zones, is war.
Critics of the peace movement ask what’s the alternative to war in Iraq? It must be a rhetorical question because I can think of six off the top of my head.
— Allow the weapons inspectors to do their job, which includes sharing intelligence with Hans Blix, pointing out where the smoking guns are being hidden by Saddam, if, in fact there are any.
— Keep the weapons sanctions in place but immediately lift the economic embargo — a 11-year-old failed policy that has only further entrenched Saddam while killing a half-million Iraqi children under the age of 5 in a country that prior to the Gulf War was a nation whose biggest pediatric problem was childhood obesity.
— Pledge to rebuild the civilian infrastructure U.S. bombs destroyed in Iraq during the 1991 war, which is what has been fueling Iraq’s incredible infant morality rate i.e. damaged and destroyed water-treatment facilities, plus the use of depleted uranium weapons, has led to a humanitarian crisis in which little children are dying of preventable water-borne diseases and related birth defects.
— The Bush administration should sign on to the International Criminal Court and pursue an indictment of Saddam for crimes against humanity, which would gain the support of the international community for a multi-national coalition force to apprehend Saddam, if necessary.
— Investigate potential punitive action against the U.S. corporations who sold and profited from the sale of nuclear, chemical and biological materials as well as missile technology to Iraq during the period when Saddam was committing the atrocities that made him infamous and is the historical “proof” upon which the Bush administration justifies its “preventive” war doctrine.
— Fully and fairly implement UN Resolution 661, which calls not only for the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction but stipulates that the Middle East be a nuclear weapons free zone. That means, of course, insisting that Israel rid itself of its nukes.
— Apply international pressure on the Israeli government to dismantle all settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, establish a viable Palestinian state, and deploy an international peace-keeping force to separate the two sides.
And finally, ironically, we ought to keep in mind the thoughts of two esteemed statesmen. “Peace is not made with friends. Peace is made with enemies,” according to the late Yitzhak Rabin.
Nelson Mandela adds: “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a nationally syndicated columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org