Watching the frankly scary parade of military hard ware through the streets of the North Korean capital city Pyongyang, and the vast number of uniformed citizens allied to the underlying threat of a nuclear weapon got me to thinking why are we totally ignoring this collectively dysfunctional Society and the danger it poses in the region and internationally?
There are 23 million people living in appalling poverty which in my mind economic sanctions, as proved by the strangulation of Iraq, would only serve to exacerbate and help line the pockets of the Dictatorship via the black market.
Saddam bled his people dry whilst building and maintaining a decadent lifestyle for himself and his henchmen meaning that the people grew weaker and weaker, thus rendering the possibility of a Philippines People Power type Revolution impossible despite the existence of a well educated Middle Class made rich by massive oil revenues pre 1991.
The pre cursers for a progressive movement in Iraq were in place but were neutered by the “genocidal” (Denis Halliday, UN Under Secretary General) sanctions which saw a monumental 1.5 million Iraqis die of starvation or preventable disease, whilst the infrastructure was destroyed by constant Allied bombardment from the air.
Saddam, let us remember was the ally of then West in the 70’s and 80’s, armed to the teeth as a buttress against Iran.
Rumsfeld visited the Beast of Baghdad in 1981 to do an arms deal and the French sold him a nuclear reactor in 1974. But once the hand was bitten his fate, and that of the Iraqi people, was sealed.
The circumstances surrounding North Korea are totally different and merit close examination by the International Community.
As a Socialist I see International Solidarity as a must, a view taken by Tony Blair in his Chicago speech in 1999, hence the timely interventions in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, both proving albeit in a flawed manner, that it is our duty on the Left to stand up for the oppressed, the commitment to ending Worldwide Poverty is another shining beacon of this ethos.
I firmly believe this was the prime mover in Blair’s determination to get rid of Saddam but it doesn’t for a minute let him off the hook for the illegal invasion and it’s disgustingly botched aftermath.
As a result it must be a priority of the UN to do something about North Korea before it is too late as it would be a disaster for the region for Kim Jong Ill and his band of scary and ruthless lackeys, to get a workable atom bomb.
The device tested recently is not a bomb, but it proves they can produce the chain reactions needed to make one.
If you equate it to the Manhattan Project then we are at about 1942, but the things could quite clearly unravel very quickly.
But, before we pick the speck out of North Korean eyes, we need to deal with the massive log in our own, that being the craven failure of the Nuclear Powers to fulfil their side of the Non Proliferation Treaty (2000) recognised as still binding and oft quoted by the US and indeed the UN Security Council.
Article 6 of the Treaty makes it a requirement for the signatories to work towards complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the world.
How this squares with the UK spending £30 billion on replacing Trident is anyone’s guess and the US, China and Russia continue to spend vast sums of money on this massive array of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Britain’s role has been one based on dissembling, playing lose with the actualite, as Alan Clark once famously said.
“We have unilaterally reduced our operationally available stockpile to fewer than 200 warheads, which represents a reduction of more than 70% in the potential explosive power of our deterrent since the end of the Cold War.” (Peter Jenkins, UK Ambassador to the Non Proliferation Talks (NPT) in 2000).
“The 70% reduction in explosive power of British nuclear weapons has been largely achieved by replacing older, higher yield warheads such as Polaris and WE-177 with the lower yield, but more flexible Trident warhead.” (Centre for Peace Studies, University of Bradford.)
Despite the fact that the UK agreed to preserve and strengthen the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty in the 2000 NPT Final Document, the UK Government has given full backing to US missile defence plans including allowing the US to use British bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales as part of the missile defence system, announced in 2002 by Geoff Hoon when he was Defence Secretary. These were used to target US aircraft on Iraqi targets in the recent War.
I questioned him on this at a meeting in Beverley in the run up to the 2005 Election and he became agitated and said he wanted to only discuss issues that “really matter to people”. Whatever.
Then there is the inconvenient truth that despite Tony Benn specifically forbidding it, officials at the Department of Energy on the bidding of MI5 and the CIA, deliberately gave the Israeli Government the know how needed to develop an uranium enrichment programme, the first stage to making the bomb that the Jewish State so desperately required. The Vanunnu case lifted the lid of Western aid to nuclearise in the Eighties.
I have been a member of CND for twenty years and they have constantly warned everyone about North Korea, to no avail as usual until immediate interests of the West are under threat. And by that I mean economic factors.
Instability in the region affects South Korea, a huge trading partner with America, plus rubs China up the wrong way and we can’t have that despite the fact that the former home of Olympiad has developed SS Gruppen style mobile execution wagons to electrocute the thousands of victims of state murder.
Despite all the hypocrisy of the nuclear and Western Powers realpolitik suggests that the UN must coordinate some kind of action to free the people of North Korea from such a vile regime. If that means some form of military actions with clear aims and objectives, with a UN Multi National Force then so be it.
Then maybe Burma, Zimbabwe and others may see that the International Community will act if UN members continue to oppress and murder their own citizens.
But the mess of Iraq and Afghanistan have put paid to that option thus proving that these Wars have only served to make the world more unsafe, whilst cementing the position of extremist governments who now realise the UN is impotent and that Euro/American voters won’t stand for any more overseas action, no matter how valid it may be.