| The US is docking nuclear armed submarines in South Korea for the first time since the 1980s Photo US Navy | MR Online The U.S. is docking nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea for the first time since the 1980s. Photo: U.S. Navy

Biden nukes Korea, builds anti-China alliances

Originally published: Struggle-La Lucha on May 2, 2023 by Gary Wilson (more by Struggle-La Lucha)  | (Posted May 09, 2023)

On April 26, in the “Washington Declaration,” the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would be docking nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea for the first time since the 1980s. The U.S. had withdrawn its open nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1992 with the “Joint Declaration of South and North Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” treaty.

Although it was widely believed that the U.S. continued to secretly deploy nuclear weapons in Korea, this move by the Biden administration is a blatant violation of the denuclearization treaty.

The deployment of nuclear-armed submarines is an escalation bringing the Korean peninsula to the “brink of a nuclear war,” the Korean Central News Agency reported on May 1.

“So far, the U.S. has staged large-scale combined military exercises and all sorts of war drills against the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” the Pyongyang daily Rodong Sinmun reported on May 1, referring to the mass flight of U.S. Air Force nuclear-capable B52 bombers over the Korean peninsula on April 5. Now, the U.S. is “deploying strategic nuclear bombers, nuclear carrier task forces and even strategic nuclear submarines near the territorial waters of the DPRK and makes it public.”

The U.S. has not attempted to conceal that the exercises were intended to simulate an attack on the DPRK.

Rodong Sinmun continues,

What is more serious is that U.S. President Biden dared to make frantic and reckless remarks about ‘the end of regime’ [of] the DPRK while becoming vociferous about a ‘swift, overwhelming and decisive response’ at a press conference after the talks.

North Korean leader Kim Yo Jong said Biden’s threat should not be dismissed as simply a “nonsensical remark from the person in his dotage.”

She said,

When we consider that this expression was personally used by the president of the U.S., our most hostile adversary, it is threatening rhetoric for which he should be prepared for far too great an after-storm.

The more the U.S. is “dead set on staging nuclear war exercises, and the more nuclear assets they deploy in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula, the stronger the exercise of our right to self-defense will become in direct proportion to them.”

Third-largest U.S. military occupation

According to data from the Pentagon, about 30,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, the third-largest military presence outside the country after Japan and Germany. In addition, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) operates about 90 combat planes, 40 attack helicopters, 50 tanks, and some 60 Patriot missile launchers.

The “Washington Declaration” was part of a summit between President Biden and South Korea’s far-right President Yoon Suk Yeol.

“According to the New England Korea Peace Campaign, Boston Candlelight Action Committee, and Massachusetts Peace Action, which are preparing to hold a protest on Friday, April 28, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during Yoon’s visit to Harvard, ‘Since entering office, Yoon’s right-wing administration has expanded costly and provocative U.S.-ROK military exercises, heightened tensions with North Korea, rolled back workers’ rights, threatened to abolish the ministry of gender equality, and has taken many other actions to undermine struggles for peace and justice in South Korea,’” Simone Chun reports.

“Yoon’s state visit comes at a time when South Korea is experiencing unprecedented crises on the political, economic, and national security fronts as a consequence of the Biden administration’s unrelenting pressure on South Korea to join the U.S. anti-China bloc,” Chun adds.

The joint statement issued by Biden and Yoon Suk Yeol did not explicitly mention China, but it did make several references to the “free and open Indo-Pacific,” which is seen by many as a code phrase for “containing” China.

The statement also declared,

The Presidents reiterated the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the region.

Ending ‘One China’ policy

The U.S. is now targeting Taiwan, virtually ending the “One China” policy that recognizes that Taiwan is part of China. In recent years, the U.S. has increased arms sales to Taiwan, sent high-level officials and Congressional delegations, and conducted joint military exercises with Taiwan. In addition, the U.S. has quadrupled the number of U.S. troops on the island.

Washington is building a system of alliances throughout the Indo-Pacific as part of its war buildup against China. These alliances include the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) — Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. — and the AUKUS pact made up of Australia, Britain, and the U.S.

On April 11, Al Jazeera reported that the U.S. and the Philippines began their largest-ever military drills, including a live-fire exercise on a ship in the South China Sea.

The drills, known as Balikatan, have about 12,200 U.S. troops, 5,400 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) members, and representatives from other countries, including Australia. Balikatan means “shoulder to shoulder” in Tagalog.

The Philippines recently agreed to allow the U.S. access to more military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Nine EDCA bases are planned, with four directly facing Taiwan. The Philippines is also increasing military ties with Japan.

Biden has persisted in his aggressive rhetoric on Taiwan. He told CBS News last September that he would send U.S. troops to “defend” Taiwan. Then, in a significant break with the longstanding U.S. “One China” policy, he added:

Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence… That’s their decision.

Of course, Taiwan is part of China and not “independent.” Any U.S. military invasion to “defend” Taiwan would be an act of war against China.

China not an imperialist power

As Foreign Policy magazine noted recently, “China is not a superpower.” The report uses the term superpower to avoid the more direct and accurate phrase imperialist power, which the U.S. tries to deny.

“The United States is undoubtedly a superpower, with a worldwide network of alliance agreements and overseas bases enabling it to deploy and move forces rapidly between various theaters,” FP reports.

China, however, is only a regional power. It wields global economic power and influence, but the geographic reach of its military is largely limited to the Asian and Indo-Pacific theaters.

The United States has direct and unhindered access to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. China has limited access to the Pacific and is mostly hemmed in by major island chains it does not control.

Imperialist “gunboat diplomacy” requires boats, and airplanes need airfields to operate in far-flung regions. China has none of them, either.

China has only one overseas base — its naval facility in Djibouti, staffed with 400 Chinese marines.

While the U.S. Navy plows the world’s oceans daily, the Chinese navy conducts missions only in its own Indo-Pacific area.

A superpower means military and economic dominance over other countries, which China has never had. The U.S., in contrast, has hegemonic dominance over countries in every continent because no other state is in a position to challenge its dominance, FP concludes.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.