The Winter Olympics begin tomorrow in South Korea, and because Vermonters collectively kick ass @ Winter, we are sending more athletes per capita (nearly 30) to Pyeongchang than any of the other 50 states in the US of Empire. (Yes yes, Colorado is sending the most athletes, followed by California, Minnesota, New York and Utah – but Vermont is small but MIGHTY.)
So, the Koreas. (Yes, there are two of them – North and South. For the moment.) In recent months, US imperial propaganda about North Korea has been flying faster and more furious than an army of of Seoul-based chefs attempting to slather kimchi onto bulgogi sandwiches in the midst of a high wind. I dare say that most Americans (not Vermonters, of course) might have trouble locating Korea on a map, and most of what Americans think they know about Korea probably comes from repeated viewings of The Interview -perhaps the single best example of a Hollywood film carrying propagandistic water fo the U.S. of Empire as you could possibly find.
So – to “complexify” our understandings of the Koreas, here are two new books worth reading. The first, T.J. Coles’ Fire and Fury: How The U.S. Isolates North Korea, Encirlces China, and Risks Nuclear War In Asia, is a thoughtfully damning indictment of U.S. imperial foreign policy in Asia. We’ve reviewed Coles’ books before – he is an independent thinker, with a no nonsense accessible writing style and straightforward analysis culled from official US policy documents. In short, the dude does good work, and Fire and Fury is a wonderful geo-strategic and political primer re: US-Korean relations in the context of greater Asia.
A few of Coles’ key takeaways to counter POTUS bluster and US propaganda:
- North Korea is NOT diplomatically isolated. It has diplomatic relations with over 100 countries, but more needs to be done to assist its integration.
- North Korea has not sought self-imposed isolation or hermitage. Rather, the United States has sought to isolate North Korea for political reasons – bolstering U.S. ally Japan, containing Eurasian rival China via the so-called “Asia Pivot,” and beyond.
- North Korea is not a global threat because its global strike capacity is not only limited but highly exaggerated by the North Korean regime.
- North Korea has repeatedly made efforts and offers to negotiate with the U.S. and regional powers and has been rejected or undermined on each occasion.
- U.S. policy makers’ geo-strategic thinking re: North Korea is ambiguous: as far as elite planners are concerned, there are pros and cons to keeping the regime alive.
Pair Coles’ analysis with Korean Dream: A Vision For A Unified Korea, written by peace/policy analyst and Korean Olympian Hyun Jin Preston Moon. His 230 page book presents a lucid and comprehensive case for a single Korea, arguing that Korean unification is the best path forward for both Korean and global security, and a definitive answer to 70+ years of economic and social problems created by a divided Korea. Moon concludes his book with a ringing call:
“Korea stands at a crossroads, facing a historic choice. At stake is the future of the Korean people for generations to come. We can accept the current state of a divided peninsula with the ever-present possibility of civil conflict, or we can determine a new path driven by the conscious pursuit of our destiny to create a unified homeland and to ‘broadly benefit all humanity.'”
My guess is that most Americans had no idea that a global movement dedicated to Korean unification, led by Koreans themselves, was even a “thing.” A good reminder, perhaps, to cast off the imperial propaganda that passes for “news” in the US of Empire, and wander out into the real world for a look around. The Winter Olympic Games in Korea offers a remarkable opportunity over the next several weeks to do just this.
Good luck to all of our Vermont athletes in Pyeongchang, and bless our 2VR!