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Background to the North Korea nuclear crisis – the Cold War that never ended

The Cold War Never Ended: Historical Roots of the Current North Korea Crisis, Portside, 12 Sept 17 The current conflict is one of the many unintended consequences of the continuing Cold War and the arbitrary division of the Korean peninsula that has lasted to this day. In a military confrontation with the United States, North Korea faces a terrible choice between using its weapons first or losing them in a conventional war against a far superior power.Suzy Kim, American Historical Association

With tensions at an all-time high between the United States and North Korea, theNew York Times headlined its recent digital newsletter with Lies Your High School History Teacher Told You About Nukes. The basic point was to debunk the theory of “mutually assured destruction” that is often used to explain why the Cold War remained cold and did not result in a nuclear holocaust. The article argues that despite possessing a nuclear arsenal that guaranteed “mutually assured destruction,” both the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a costly arms race that attempted to outmaneuver the other with more numerous and powerful warheads, delivered with more precise and faster missiles. This happened not because they wanted to engage in actual nuclear warfare, but because of the threatthat the other could “escape” mutually assured destruction, fight back, and win. This justified pursuing weaponry that could, in theory, take out the other side before it could retaliate. The Soviet Union was so terrified of this prospect that it spent enormous resources to retain at least the power to deliver a second strike, ultimately at the cost to its own ailing economy.
This is precisely what North Korea is doing now, but from a much weaker position, which only increases the risk of war. In a military confrontation with the United States, North Korea faces a terrible choice between using its weapons first or losing them in a conventional war against a far superior power. …….

British social historian E.P. Thompson pointedly asked whose needs the Cold War served and whether it was necessary. In a lecture delivered in 1981, Thompson asked us to think “beyond the Cold War” to a world where peace and freedom made common cause. Peace activists during the Cold War were lumped together with the Soviet “peace offensive” and branded naïve at best or dupes at worst, replicated today against those who seek engagement and peace with North Korea. Blaming appeasement and failure of diplomacy to stop Hitler and World War II while forgetting that World War I was the result of increased militarization and lack of diplomacy, the goal of peace was equated with appeasement and forsaken in the name of protecting freedom and “our way of life.”

Thompson concluded that the Cold War was an “addiction,” “a habit supported by very powerful material interests in each bloc,” from the military-industrial complex to intelligence and national security agencies, and the politicians they serve. This is no less true here in the United States as it is in North Korea today, where the American threat has been used to justify draconian measures since the Korean War.

North Korea’s threat of turning the United States into a “sea of fire,” while rhetorically inflammatory and unproductive, is based on its historical experience of the Korean War, during which the United States engaged in a literal scorched earth campaign of incendiary bombing that exhausted all targets. Despite American introduction of nuclear weapons into South Korea in 1958 in violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, North Korea began developing its own nuclear weapons in earnest only in the 1990s when it could no longer rely on the Soviet nuclear umbrella.

North Korea’s threat of turning the United States into a “sea of fire,” while rhetorically inflammatory and unproductive, is based on its historical experience of the Korean War, during which the United States engaged in a literal scorched earth campaign of incendiary bombing that exhausted all targets. Despite American introduction of nuclear weapons into South Korea in 1958 in violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, North Korea began developing its own nuclear weapons in earnest only in the 1990s when it could no longer rely on the Soviet nuclear umbrella…….http://portside.org/2017-09-11/cold-war-never-ended-historical-roots-current-north-korea-crisis

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September 14, 2017 - Posted by | history, politics international, Reference, weapons and war

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