Socialist Worker

Donald Trump’s row with North Korea could prove deadly

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2550

US president Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un

US president Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Pic: Gage Skidmore and Petersnoopy on Flickr)


Warmongering US president Donald Trump is ramping up tensions across the world to assert the US’s global dominance.

This imperialist posturing means a deadly clash with rival powers is much more likely.

In his latest play, Trump has manufactured a public standoff with North Korea.

His vice president Mike Pence warned that the “era of strategic patience” over the dictatorship’s nuclear tests was over. He made the threat on a trip to the “demilitarised zone”, a thin strip that has separated the north and south since the Korean War of 1950-53.

Since the war, the South Korean regime has been a key outpost for US imperialism in Asia.

Exercises

The US and South Korea held their “largest ever” joint military exercises near the North Korean border last week.

Over 17,000 US and 300,000 South Korean troops took part and the US Air Force then had a “surprise” drill at the Kadena airbase in Japan.

It comes after Trump sent a group of naval war ships, including the “supercarrier” USS Carl Vinson, to the Korean peninsula.

These war games are as much a propaganda show of force as they are military training.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un retaliated promising an “annihilating-strike” if tensions ramp up further. North Korea’s ruling class, increasingly isolated after the Cold War, began developing nuclear weapons to give it international leverage.

It has tested two nuclear bombs and a number of missiles in the last year—but its latest missile test last Sunday failed.

The first parts of the US-built THAAD “missile defence system” began arriving in South Korea last week. While China has been trying to rein in its ally North Korea, it has come out strongly against the deployment.

Posturing

China crisis - could island strife lead to world war?
China crisis - could island strife lead to world war?
  Read More

Trump’s dangerous posturing is about more than North Korea.

The South China Sea is becoming an arena of increasing imperialist tension and competition between the US, China, Japan and other states. The USS Carl Vinson and THAAD are designed to send a clear message to China’s rulers.

Since the end of the Cold War the US has faced increasing competition from rising powers such as China.

It hoped that a brutal assertion of military might would overcome this, but the US defeat in Iraq had the opposite effect.

Reeling from this defeat, former US president Barack Obama relied on building up regional alliances and made a “pivot towards Asia”, recognising that China would be its biggest rival.

Trump wants to go back to the Iraq-style “go it alone” policies—hoping use of force will send a message to its rivals. This won’t solve the US’s problems, but it makes a deadly confrontation more likely.

It shows up the reality of imperialism—risking millions of lives for our rulers’ interests.


Carnage in new Syria attack

Some 126 refugees, including at least 68 children, were killed when a bomb tore apart their buses in Syria last Saturday.

A vehicle loaded with explosives hit the refugee convoy near the northern town of Aleppo.

It was part of an agreement to get people out of four towns that are encircled by forces fighting Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Imperialism has helped fuel such brutalities in Syria—and certainly has no answer to them.

The revolution that began in 2011 was a genuine, popular uprising against the regime that saw tens of thousands come out onto the streets.

But it militarised quickly—and the Assad regime launched a sectarian civil war to undermine it.

Then imperialist and regional powers intervened to assert their own interests and dominance in the Middle East.

There is no solution in more Western bombs—or any other Western intervention.

But whenever the guns have fallen silent, ordinary Syrians have come out onto the streets.

It’s only in these sorts of struggles that hope lies.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.