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As Olympic Truce Raises Promise of Peace, US Responds with New Threats of War


January 28, 2018
Kanga Kong / Bloomberg & Veterans for Peace

The question as to whether the Olympic detente will continue after Games end in March has been complicated the Washington's announcement that it intends to order a resumption of military exercises aimed at destabilizing North Korea. The US announcement came after North Korea issued a call for unification of the two Koreas. It would appear that the US prefers military action to a diplomatic resolution that could bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-25/u-s-military-drills-with-south-korea-to-go-ahead-after-olympics

US Military Drills With South Korea Planned After Olympics
Kanga Kong / Bloomberg



(January 25, 2018) -- The US and South Korea will conduct joint military drills as "normal" after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Pyeongchang end in March, Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyunsoo said in a briefing Thursday.

That stance was echoed at the Pentagon, where Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, staff director for the Joint Chiefs, told reporters, "We're deconflicting during the period of the Olympics, and exercises will continue immediately after the Olympics."

The commitment to resume exercises, delayed from earlier this year to accommodate North Korea's participation in the Games, came hours after Pyongyang issued an appeal to "all Koreans" at home and abroad to increase exchanges and cooperation to facilitate unification.

In a message that read more like a sermon than a propaganda dispatch -- sentences began with pleas such as "Let us" and "Let all Koreans" -- the state-run Korean Central News Agency said the regime sought a "breakthrough for independent reunification" without the assistance of other nations.

While the regime called for peace, it's also preparing for a possible military parade on Feb. 8, the day before the opening ceremony.

The US-South Korean drills are a major source of tensions on the peninsula, with North Korea using them to justify its push to develop nuclear weapons capable of striking the US mainland. The defense ministry gave no details on the timing or nature of the next exercises, but any goodwill is likely to rapidly vanish if they go ahead in the weeks after the Games, and Pyongyang could restart its missile and nuclear provocations.

On Wednesday, the White House expressed concerns that Kim Jong Un's regime is trying to take advantage of its participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics for its own propaganda and create cracks in the US alliance with South Korea.



White House Worries About
Kim's Olympics Propaganda Bid

Margaret Talev / Bloomberg

(January 23, 2018) -- US Vice President Mike Pence will take a higher-profile approach to attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month to help counter what a White House official called North Korea's propaganda efforts at the games.

Concerned about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's successful bid to send a team to the Olympics in Pyeongchang -- and have the athletes march into the opening ceremony with their South Korean counterparts -- Pence will conduct a series of interviews before and during the games, according to the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity. He'll also make a stop in Alaska en route to the games to review US defense installations, the official said.

The Olympic opening ceremony will be the first time North and South Koreans step out together at an international sporting event since 2007.

Kim infused some unexpected excitement into his decision to reach out to South Korea about participating in the games by including Hyon Song Wol, a North Korean pop star, in an official North Korean delegation sent to inspect performance venues before the Feb. 8 opening ceremony.

The episode further raised anxieties within the Trump administration that the Kim government would score a public relations victory, the official said.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in also agreed to field a unified women's hockey team, the first time the two sides would compete as one team. North Korea will send 22 athletes, along with 24 coaches and officials, Olympic officials said.

The joint Olympics delegation grew out of talks opened between North and South Korea. North Korea's Korean Central News Agency warned Sunday that an effort by South Korea to link reconciliation to denuclearization would chill the talks.

Japan Wary
The dialog is already producing some division among allies. Japan, for example, has been wary of any rapprochement with North Korea, wanting to keep talks focused only on the nuclear issue. It has portrayed ongoing talks as a transparent effort by Kim to buy time to keep working on nuclear weapons.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Tuesday reiterated warnings that Kim is within months of developing nuclear weapons capable of striking the US Pompeo said the regime wants to use its budding arsenal for "coercive" purposes, dismissing North Korea's contention that it needs a nuclear missile program to enhance its defense against a possible American attack.


Olympic Truce Action: Diplomacy Not War
Veterans for Peace

Another war with North Korea would be disastrous. It could easily go nuclear. It should be unthinkable, and there are peaceful diplomatic alternatives.

For South Korea, which would bear the brunt of any conflict with North Korea, there is no military option. As a group of 58 retired US military leaders acknowledge in a letter to Trump, that military action "would result in hundreds of thousands of casualties." The people of Korea, North and South, the peoples of the region, and Americans all want peace.

The Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, offer a unique moment to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. On a very encouraging note, in November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce, or a cessation of hostilities during the Winter Games, which gained the support of 157 Member States including both Koreas and future hosts of the Olympic Games: Japan, China, France and the United States.

The Olympic Truce represents an important opportunity to defuse tensions and begin the work of reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. The United States should fully support both Korean governments' current efforts to restore a peace process. Veterans For Peace has issued a statement of support for these unity efforts.

A Proposed Path to Peace:
The "Freeze-for-Freeze" Solution

In a very significant development, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has successfully persuaded a reluctant Donald Trump to postpone US-South Korea war drills that would have overlapped with the Olympics.

These joint military exercises typically consist of hundreds of thousands of ground troops and such provocative scenarios as "decapitation" raids and simulate nuclear attacks.

Delaying them could pave the way for a longer-term "freeze for freeze" deal -- a suspension of military exercises for a ban on North Korea's nuclear and missile testing, and ultimately, an official end to the Korean War by replacing the 1953 Armistice with a permanent peace treaty.

Let's build on this momentum! We in the United States have a special responsibility to demand diplomacy, not war, with North Korea. An ad hoc network, the Korea Collaboration, calls for weeks of action during the Winter Olympics (February 9 - 25) and Paralympics (March 9 - 18), as well as the broader period of the Olympic Truce (February 2 to March 25). We call on groups and individuals to organize actions or other events in your communities.

These could include:
* Teach-ins, webinars,
and other types of educational events, supported by fact sheets, articles, videos and podcasts. Korean-American voices need to be front and center.

* Vigils for peace, public protests where appropriate, visibility actions.

* Petition-gathering and support for the People's Peace Treaty.

* Building Congressional pressure, both in-district and in Washington, DC. Call-in Days, in-district congressional visits, high-level delegations or sign-on letters to Members of Congress calling on them to use the Olympic Truce as an opportunity to stand for diplomacy and continue to suspend US-South Korea war drills, through public statements and support for pro-diplomacy legislation, including asserting Congressional powers over war and peace, and particularly any decision to use nuclear weapons.

* Olympic watch parties -- gather friends and family in your home or a community venue to celebrate the Olympics. Add a dollop of Korean culture and cuisine, and call for peace and diplomacy. Invite your local NBC-TV affiliate (the television network of the Olympics) to cover your gathering for the local news. Watch parties can be great social media events as well. Korean-Americans should be the main spokespeople.

* Earned media coverage and social media promotion (utilizing FaceBook and Twitter memes and actions, Thunderclap, Instagram and other platforms) calling for diplomacy and peace. Use the Olympic Truce as a "hook" for Letters to Editor and Op-eds.

Other engaging and fun, movement-building events around the Winter Olympics. Please share your good ideas.

On a very encouraging note, in November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce, or a cessation of hostilities during the Winter Games, which gained the support of 157 Member States including both Koreas and future hosts of the Olympic Games: Japan, China, France and the United States.

The Olympic Truce represents an important opportunity to defuse tensions and begin the work of reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. The United States should fully support both Korean governments' current efforts to restore a peace process. Veterans For Peace has issued a statement of support for these unity efforts.

Let's build on this momentum! We in the United States have a special responsibility to demand diplomacy, not war, with North Korea. An ad hoc network, the Korea Collaboration calls for weeks of action during the Winter Olympics (February 9-25) and Paralympics (March 9-18), as well as the broader period of the Olympic Truce (February 2- to March 25). We call on groups and individuals to organize actions or other events in your communities.

Check out the Korea Peace Campaign and the Global Campaign for a Peace Treaty for more ways to get involved in Veterans For Peace efforts and resources to learn more about Korea.


People's Peace Treaty with North Korea
Veterans for Peace

Alarmed by the threat of a nuclear war between the US and North Korea, Veterans For Peace, joined by other US peace groups have come together to send an open message to Washington and Pyongyang that we are strongly opposed to any resumption of the horrific Korean War. What we want is a peace treaty to finally end the lingering Korean War!

Inspired by the Vietnam-era People's Peace Treaty, we have initiated a People's Peace Treaty with North Korea, to raise awareness about the past US policy toward North Korea, and to send a clear message that we, the people of the US, do not want another war with North Korea. This is not an actual treaty, but rather a declaration of peace from the people of the United States.

Our goal is to collect many tens of thousands of signatures, and to publicize the People's Peace Treaty to the people in the US as well as in the rest of the world. Please add your voice for permanent peace in Korea by signing the People's Peace Treaty with North Korea.

ACTION: Please add your voice for peace by signing the People's Peace Treaty with North Korea.

People's Peace Treaty with North Korea
A Message of Peace from the People of the United States


Deeply concerned with the increasing danger of the current military tensions and threats between the Governments of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea), which may re-ignite the horrendous fighting in the Korean War by design, mistake or accident,

Recalling that the United States currently possesses about 6,800 nuclear weapons, and has threatened the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea in the past, including the most recent threat made by the US President in his terrifying speech to the United Nations ("totally destroy North Korea"),

Regretting that the US Government has so far refused to negotiate a peace treaty to replace the temporary Korean War Armistice Agreement of 1953, although such a peace treaty has been proposed by DPRK many times from 1974 on,

Convinced tha t ending the Korean War officially is an urgent, essential step for the establishment of enduring peace and mutual respect between the US and DPRK, as well as for the North Korean people's full enjoyment of their basic human rights to life, peace and development -- ending their long sufferings from the harsh economic sanctions imposed on them by the US Government since 1950,

NOW, THEREFORE, as a Concerned Person of the United States of America (or on behalf of a civil society organization), I hereby sign this People's Peace Treaty with North Korea, dated November 11, 2017, Armistice Day (also Veterans Day in the US), and

1) Declare to the world that the Korean War is over as far as I am concerned, and that I will live in "permanent peace and friendship" with the North Korean people (as promised in the 1882 US-Korea Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation that opened the diplomatic relations between the US and Korea for the first time);

2) Express my deep apology to the North Korean people for the US Government's long, cruel and unjust hostility against them, including the near total destruction of North Korea due to the heavy US bombings during the Korean War;

3) Urge Washington and Pyongyang to immediately stop their preemptive (or preventive) conventional/nuclear attack threats against each other and to sign the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

4) Call upon the US Government to stop its large-scale, joint war drills with the armed forces of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Japan, and commence a gradual withdrawal of the US troops and weapons from South Korea;

5) Call upon the US Government to officially end the lingering and costly Korean War by concluding a peace treaty with the DPRK without further delay, to lift all sanctions against the country, and to join the 164 nations that have normal diplomatic relations with the DPRK;

6) Pledge that I will do my best to end the Korean War, and to reach out to the North Korean people -- in order to foster greater understanding, reconciliation and friendship.

Initial Signers:
Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, UFPJ
Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace
Noam Chomsky, Emeritus Professor, M.I.T.
Blanch Weisen Cook, Professor of History and Women's Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
Clare Coss, Playwright and librettist
Joe Essertier, World Beyond War - Japan
Bill Fletcher, Jr., former president of TransAfrica Forum
Irene Gendzier, Emeritus Professor, Boston University
Joseph Gerson, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
Matthew P. Hoh, Senior Fellow, Center For International Policy
Louis Kampf, Emeritus Professor, M.I.T.
Asaf Kfoury, Professor of Mathematics, Boston University
John Kim, Veterans For Peace
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
John Lamperti, Emeritus Professor, Dartmouth College
Kevin Martin, Peace Action
Emanuel Pastreich, Kyung Hee University
Sophie Quinn-Judge, Temple University (retired)
Steve Rabson, Emeritus Professor, Brown University
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Gar Smith, Environmentalists Against War
David Swanson, World Beyond War, RootsAction
Ann Wright, Women Cross DMZ, Code Pink, VFP

Background:
* President Jimmy Carter, "What I've Learned from North Korea's Leaders," Washington Post, Oct. 4, 2017

* Col. Ann Wright (Ret.), "A Path Forward on North Korea," Consortiumnews, March 5, 2017

* Leon V. Sigal, "Bad History," 38 North, Aug. 22, 2017

* Prof. Bruce Cumings, "A Murderous History of Korea," London Review of Books, May 18, 2017

* Joseph Essertier, "Let's Put to Rest These Myths About US-North Korea Relations, World Beyond War, Sep. 27, 2017

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