Democrats attack Trump – from the right

Thousands demonstrate for peace in Seoul last November.

Democratic Party politicians and media outlets that reflect their positions have attacked President Donald Trump on certain issues with arguments to the right of him.

One example is United States policy on North Korea. Trump has been taken to task for meeting with Kim Jong-un and initiating discussions with North Korea over its possession of nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.

The charge is that even meeting with Kim was wrong because it allegedly legitimises and “prettifies” him.

The Democrats are opposed to Trump cancelling — at least temporarily— the aggressive “war games” that the US stages with the South Korean army.

The North’s stated goals are: for Washington to end the state of war with Pyongyang that has persisted since the ceasefire and stalemate of 1953 ended the hot war launched by the US in 1950; a peace treaty and the establishment of diplomatic relations; and an end to the economic sanctions against it.

Trump’s demands are for the complete and verifiable nuclear disarmament of the North, including its missiles — while the US expands its nuclear arsenal and missiles.

These goals can only be reached by piecemeal, step-by-step reciprocal actions towards de-escalation by both sides.

A brief history of the conflict illustrates why.

Korean conflict

Almost all US citizens are unaware that the United States invaded Korea in 1945, and has militarily occupied the South ever since.

Korea was a colony of Japan before the latter’s defeat in World War II. As victors, the US wanted to dominate Korea and invaded. But the Soviet army occupied the north, limiting the US occupation to the south and resulting in the division of the peninsula that has remained ever since.

In the north, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), a Stalinist regime, was established, under the rule of former anti-Japanese guerrilla fighter Kim Il-sung, with the Soviet army withdrawing shortly after.

The south was under US direct military rule until 1948, when the US set up the Republic of Korea through fake elections that established the first of a long line of puppet dictatorships — a few with a democratic façade but most without one. Bourgeois democracy was set up in 1987.

North and South Korea each claimed to be the government of the whole peninsula, and civil war broke out between the two in 1950. The US, seeing an opportunity, massively augmented its occupying troops in an invasion of the North and rapidly moved toward China.

In turn, China sent a huge army to push US troops back, finally settling on the original dividing line between the two Koreas.

For three years, the war continued, with little change in the positions of the two sides – a stalemate. Huge US bombing, with little anti-aircraft fire, flattened the North until the US under Republican president Dwight Eisenhower initiated talks that led to the ceasefire.

A 2015 Washington Post article stated: “The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless, even by the assessment of America’s own leaders.

“‘Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,’ Air force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984.”

The US stationed atomic weapons for many years in South Korea, aimed at the North and China. The war games in the South included mock nuclear attacks on the North, and rehearsals of future commando raids to overthrow its government.

Everyone in North Korea knows this history. No wonder that its leadership is deeply suspicious of US intentions, and will not surrender its nuclear arms unilaterally first, with only vague promises that the US will finally make peace after.

That is why the reduction of tensions must be step by step, with reciprocal on-the-ground actions by both sides.

Trump can blow up this process by demanding a complete surrender by the North first. As of now, the discussions are proceeding.

The Democrats are opposed to all this. They do not want to end the Korean War. They do not want a peaceful resolution. They want the hostile situation that existed before the Trump-Kim meeting to be reasserted.

Right now they are to the right of Trump on Korea, and well to the right of the South Korean government and people who have overwhelmingly welcomed the possibility of peace.

Russia

The Democrats are also to the right of Trump on Russia. Some have even denounced Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “treason”.

Each day, pro-Democrats media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC whip up a frenzy against Russia.

The Democrats are playing on Cold War fears to advance their aggressive anti-Russia stance. Speaking on National Public Radio, a Democratic spokesperson referred to Russia as the “the Soviets”. Others have conflated the two by referring to Russia as being the main enemy of the United States since 1917.

One fact that indicates that Russia today is not the Soviet Union is that Ukraine was part of the USSR. Today Russia and the regime in Kiev are at each other’s throats.

After the overthrow of the Soviet Union by the Stalinist bureaucracy, capitalism has been restored in all its former republics.

But the process was brutal. There was not anywhere enough capital to buy up the nationalised property because capitalist accumulation did not exist in the USSR.

The process of privatisation was carried out in criminal fashion through all sorts of schemes, where those with the greatest connections to the former regime, along with underworld figures who accumulated some capital in the black market, seized ownership of the economy in a process that has been called “gangster capitalism”.

The result in both Ukraine and Russia (and elsewhere) has been the emergence of what the West call “oligarchs” but in reality are just the rich capitalists, just like in the West.

One theme the Democrats harp on about is Russia’s takeover of Crimea from Ukraine. Here too, as in the case with Korea, some brief history is in order.

Ukraine

Russia under Czarina Catherine the Great captured Crimea from the Turkic-dominated Ottoman Empire some 250 years ago in the Russian-Turkey war. It was Russified afterwards, to the detriment of the Muslim Crimean Tatars who remained.

In the 1854-56 Crimean War, British, French and Ottoman troops fought against Czarist Russia for control of the peninsula. The Russian forces won.

With the formation of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the USSR’s leadership under Vladimir Lenin carried out the Bolsheviks’ policy of self-determination for the nations of the former Czarist Empire.

A few chose independence. Most chose to join the USSR, but with varying forms of self-determination (separate republics, autonomous regions, etc.)

One of those nations was Ukraine, which became a separate Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). Crimea became part of the Russian SSR, because its population was largely Russian.

Without going into the history of the Stalinist period, which saw severe repression of the Crimean Tatars, Crimea remained part of the Russian SSR until 1954.

Largely for economic-technical reasons, the Soviet government under Nikita Khrushchev (who was himself Ukrainian) transferred Crimea to Ukraine. This was no big deal since Ukraine was part of the USSR, and the Soviet Navy remained in control of the large Sevastopol naval base on the Black Sea. The rest of the world hardly noticed,

Following the overthrow of the USSR, Ukraine became independent. It made a deal with Russia, whereby Russia would remain in control of the Sevastopol port.

This situation lasted until the Maiden (Square) protests in Kiev in November 2013, which resulted in the overthrow of president Victor Yanukovych in 2014.

By this time, Ukraine was not only dominated by “oligarchs”, it was increasingly authoritarian, like Russia. Socially, the two are alike.

The resulting government in Kiev in western Ukraine was led by an oligarch, the “Chocolate King” Petro Poroshenko. Ukraine became divided between largely Ukrainian speakers in the west and largely Russian speakers in the east, where Yanukovych had his electoral support.

The new Kiev government took steps to downgrade the Russian language and other actions that Russian speakers feared. This led to a revolt in the east to form independent states that started a war between Kiev, supported by NATO, and the east, supported by Russia.

Without going further into the recent history, Kiev threatened to join NATO. If that were to occur, Russia would not only lose the Sevastopol naval base, it’s only Black Sea port; the base would fall into NATO’s hands.

Russia was already under great pressure from the US-led post Cold War expansion of NATO eastward up to its borders. Putin decided to retake Crimea to prevent NATO from capturing Sevastopol. This has been welcomed by the majority Russian speakers of Crimea, although opposed by the Tatars.

So the situation is much more complex than the simplistic view that Russia invaded Ukraine, common in the West and which the Democrats are thundering about.

To say that Russia today is the US’s greatest enemy, as the Democrats do, ignores the anti-Russia aggression of NATO.

It also ignores the fact that Russia is hardly an economic threat to the US. Its major export is natural gas and oil – raw materials – not cars and machine tools.

Finally, the Democrats are singing high praises to the political police of the FBI, the worldwide subversive CIA, and the National Security Agency, which among other spy activities, conducts surveillance of all US citizens, as whistleblowers Edward Snowdon revealed.

There should be no need to discuss the histories of these nefarious outfits.