Washington’s neoliberal pundits and politicians reacted with horror at the outcome of the historic U.S.-North Korea summit on June 12. They balked at Trump’s mention of halting the annual military exercises in Korea and the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea.

Speaking with ABC, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut fretted, “This time [Trump] gave away exercises for nothing, what’s to stop him from giving away troops for nothing?” He and Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois introduced a bill last week to prevent the president from withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea unless deemed by the Secretary of Defense to be “in the interest of national security and… it would not undermine the security of allies in the region.”

Korean Americans and other progressive Korea experts had a different take. They praised the summit as a breakthrough that can finally bring closure to the unresolved Korean War and gave a sobering assessment of the challenges ahead. Below is a round-up of their media interviews in the week following the summit.

Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ on Democracy Now! on why ending the Korean War is important:

[I]t’s also about an unresolved war that doesn’t allow closure to take place… there are millions of Korean families that still have to have some kind of reconciliation and healing. And the first step to ending the Korean War takes us in that direction.

(Video source: Democracy Now!)

 

Historian Bruce Cumings on Democracy Now! on the human cost of war: 

Historians estimate that about 70 percent of the casualties in the Korean War were civilian, compared to about 40 percent in Vietnam. So, it was, as President Trump said, a very, very destructive war. And every North Korean knows all about it.

(Video source: Democracy Now!)

 

ZoominKorea’s Hyun Lee with Brian Becker on Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on obstacles to the peace process:

For so long the narrative about Korea has been that South Korea is our ally, we saved them from the evil communists, and North Korea is a totalitarian government, a threat to global peace, so the U.S. needs to be there to protect the South from the North. This narrative has been profitable for certain powerful interests. South Korea is a top purchaser of U.S. weapons. The U.S. is building a trilateral missile defense belt with South Korea and Japan, and the so-called North Korea threat has been the primary justification. There are powerful interests that have a great stake in maintaining the dominant narrative, and attempts to undermine the peace process in Korea will be bipartisan.

Listen to “World Cheers for Steps Toward Korea Peace But U.S. Media Outraged” on Spreaker.

 

California Congressman Ro Khanna on Democracy Now! discussing reactions of his own party to the Kim-Trump summit:

No one is saying that Donald Trump has handled this perfectly. And would I rather have Barack Obama been the representative for the United States, or Bill Clinton? Absolutely. Would I rather Bill Perry had been accompanying the president than Mike Pompeo and John Bolton? Yes. But the reality is, this is the leadership, and Democrats are going to have to basically choose: Do we want to encourage John Bolton and a neoconservative view, or do we want to encourage the president’s instincts to follow what George Shultz and Bill Perry have recommended, a framework towards negotiation and peace, and criticize it where we don’t think it’s perfect? I think I’m quite confident that most Democrats, at least in the House, will choose the engagement approach.

(Video source: Democracy Now!)

 

Hyun Lee on the Ed Schultz Show on RT America discussing why past breakthroughs in U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations were short-lived:

In 2007, in a spectacular demonstration [North Korea] blew up [its] uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon. What happened right after that is that the hawkish forces in Washington found a way to sabotage the deal. And Condoleezza Rice… actually said, admitted that what the United States did was verification — which was supposed to be in phase three of the deal — they moved it up intentionally to phase two. And they started demanding immediate anytime, anywhere inspections of North Korea’s military bases… and this led to the breakdown of the deal.

(Video source: Democracy Now!)

 

KJ Noh with Christine Ahn and New Zealand-based scholar Tim Beal in a full-hour panel discussion on Dennis Bernstein’s Flashpoints on the Bay Area’s KPFA Pacifica Radio discussing the the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration as pointing the path forward:

[T]hat is the declaration that was made between North Korea and South Korea, which means that North Korea and South Korea are in the driver’s seat. And secondly, that document lays out the work, which was already done before. The Panmunjom Declaration says that “we will uphold all previous agreements between North and South.” And so what they are saying is the path to peace is already set, the paperwork is already done, let’s move forward on that.

Listen here

 

UC Santa Cruz professor Christine Hong on Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill on human rights as justification for sanctions:

Let’s be real about how the human rights industry consolidated around North Korea. You know, in the post-Cold War era, these organizations that had during the late Cold War period brought defectors from the socialist bloc to the United States. The legal scholar Samuel Moyn states that in the late Cold War period what happened was U.S. human rights as a state discourse was basically anti-communism by another name. And so these kinds of Cold Warrior institutions were renovated as human rights institutions, and under the axis-of-evil policy of George W. Bush, they took a very hard line. And what did they advocate for? These so-called human rights organizations–and there was a bipartisan consensus, Democrats and Republicans alike–they were basically advocating for fortified sanctions, sanctions that were meant at targeting the livelihood of people.

Listen here

 

Investigative journalist Tim Shorrock reporting from Singapore on Democracy Now!:

Ending war and bringing peace is going to be good for human rights.

(Video source: Democracy Now!)

 

By ZoominKorea staff

 

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