Saturday, June 2, 2007

Iraq and the "Korea Model"

Just when you think that the Bush administration can go no deeper into its world of fantasy, a new example pops up. The NY Times reports this Sunday that the administration is contemplating a longterm
military presence in Iraq (big surprise). But wait. The President (I think it is GW Bush, not the generals Buck Turgidson and Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove) sees this as a example of the "Korea model." Robert Gates, the "National Security Adviser" (not the good Dr. Strangelove himself who kept on confusing "Mister President" with "Mein Fuhrer" in the satire that, compared to this administration, would be an example of social realism) mentions the U.S. stationing troops for the last fifty four years in South Korea was a big advance over getting out of South Vietnam after just twenty-one years of "nation invention" in violation of international agreements and at the cost of millions of Indo-Chinese lives.

Are these people demented or do they think that we are. The Korean War of 1950-1953 devastated the peninsula, created millions of casualties, and resulted in a military stalemate in which the two states that had been in place when the war began in 1950 were largely in place at the same boundaries in 1953 when it ended, although the war itself made the cold war into a global war and intensified all of its worst aspects.

U.S. forces in South Korea were around to man bases against North Korea and China for decades, to be the front line of WWIII in Asia. They were also there to support if needed various South Korean military regimes. Whatever one may think if its reactionary and oppressive policies, South Korea was a viable state that maintained its own internal security and developed its economy with extensive aid from the U.S. and its allies.

While its people suffered enormously during the war, they were never faced in the postwar period with suicide bombers when they went out to purchase food in a market, nor were they subject worse stresses in the postwar period then they were during the war, as Iraqis are. If there is any "connection" between the two profoundly different situations on any level it is this. The U.S. military was there to advance an imperialist policy (but there are as many imperialist policies as there are situations and no successful imperialist power has applied one policy to all situations without disastrous consequences).

U.S. military forces were in Korea essentially to maintain a military alliance and fight a war, which meant keeping Korea divided and keeping an anti-Communist government in power in the South. U.S. forces might stay in Iraq to control the oil of the region, assuming they could, which given the absence of any viable state, the role of militarized religious and ethno-cultural groups in conflict with each other in a murderous on a daily basis doesn't seem possible.

Not only has there been no effective reconstruction, in terms of the Iraqi economy and society, but everything has gotten worse because the Bush administration has made it worse. Whereas capital flowed into South Korea to establish an industrial base, Iraq has been looted for the last four years by U.S. firms doing the work that Iraqis should have been doing if there were a real reconstruction, and also be various corrupt warlord elements in the country.

No serious comparision between the Iraq occupation and the struggle of the Vietnamese people for national liberation in the struggles against the Japanese imperialists during WWII, the French colonialists in the period 146-1954, and the U.S. anti-Communist "holy warriors" aka imperialists in the period 1954-1975 can be made in terms of the two situations. The only comparison would be in the "credibility gap" between the U.S. government's explanations of what was happening and what was happening. In the case of the Bush administration, which has no credibility outside of its hard core supporters, it would seem foolish to even talk about a "credibility gap."

The U.S military needs a timetable to withdraw from Iraq and a U.S. government (not this one of course) must launch a crash program to repair relations with the United Nations and work with and through the United Nations to help the Iraqi people reconstruct their economy and society. That is the only rationale "model" for concluding the Iraq horror.

--Norman Markowitz

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