The River

Friday, August 22, 2003

We don't do peace

From a recent "What's Left" Stephen Gowans column:

Damn North Koreans. They're at it again, rigidly making demands for, ugh!, peace.

"North Korea revived its long standing demand for a non-aggression treaty and diplomatic relations with Washington," revealed The New York Times. (1)

Habitually termed bizarre, unpredictable, and isolationist, North Korea is often portrayed as a menacing threat, its leaders consumed by a death wish to send a warhead hurtling toward Hawaii. But a country that has a long-standing demand for a non-aggression treaty and diplomatic relations can hardly be considered a threat to the safety of Americans. A threat to the idea that free trade and free markets dominated by US capital must spread to all corners of the globe, North Korea included -- or that Washington is global boss -- is quite another matter.

It seems Kim Jong Il, the country's leader, just doesn't get it. His demand for peace, the newspaper of record was compelled to add, shows a "rigidity analysts said represented [Pyongyang's] customary leverage from a weak position." (2)

Translation: The United States doesn't negotiate. It issues demands, and they're to be acceded to, post haste. Didn't Kim get the memo?

The US demand, in case you missed it, is for North Korea to surrender its quaint and outmoded ideas about (a) sovereignty, (b) socialism, and (c) the right to self-defense.


And in his latest column, Gowans says a Democrat in the White House isn't going to make much difference (Kucinich would be an exception, I think).

With candidates gearing up to contest presidential nominations, and a presidential election on the horizon, liberal, progressives and other leftists are wondering whether a Democratic administration would offer something better, if only marginally. There's a desperate desire to believe it would, but a desperate desire won't make it so. To be sure, a Democratic administration would offer the appearance of a kinder imperialism, but it would be imperialism all the same, and the difference would be superficial alone. This might make progressives and liberals feel better, but it would make no material difference. Countries that refused to turn their markets, resources, land and labor over to US capital would still be menaced. The Pentagon's budget would still be huge. The US would still have troops stationed in almost 130 countries, and the number of foreign bases would continue to grow. And wars, unprovoked and illegal, would still be carried keep the economy afloat. There's a good chance, however, that a Democrat would be more effective in turning rank imperialism into something that looks progressive and humanitarian, the way Clinton and Blair did with Yugoslavia.

Democrats, no matter how liberal, won't change the enormous economic pressure that drives the US to war. A Democrat can't, and indeed has no intention of even trying, to erase the systemic demand to carve out spaces for firms to sell surplus goods, for investors to invest surplus capital, and for the military-industrial complex to expand. A systemic problem can't be fixed by someone who proposes to do nothing more than put a humane face on an inhumane, anarchic and irrational system whose equilibrium state demands incessant expansion, even if it means outraging the sovereignty of unwilling nations, and the death, through war, of numberless victims.


Comments: Post a Comment