What do new sanctions against the DPRK signify?

To me, the new sanctions make it once again very, very clear: In the conflict between North Korea and Washington, the United States is the aggressor.

On the basis of an unsubstantiated allegation that the DPRK hacked Sony, President Obama decided to increase economic sanctions on one of the most sanctioned countries in the history of the world. That—in reality—is an unprovoked act of war. U.S. sanctions, in the service of U.S. imperialism, cause suffering and death and are often a precursor to barbarous military onslaughts that destroy entire countries.

On the most basic level, we must all stand up and say that we refuse to let the DPRK become another Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. The defense of Korean sovereignty is the basic duty of all revolutionaries and progressives.

But there is another component to the sanctions: The United States is not sanctioning the DPRK for the Sony hack. How could that be so—especially considering how utterly flimsy the “evidence” is.

The sanctions are meant to send a warning signal to all of Asia, and especially China and Russia, that the U.S. is very much focused on its “role” in Asia. They are meant to help reassure Japan and South Korea that the United States is ready to flex its muscles. Wall Street is very concerned about Washington losing ground in Asia, especially now that we’ve entered an era of greater hostility between Russia, China and the United States.

In other words, the defense of the DPRK’s sovereignty is central to the opposition to U.S. aggression in Asia.

What is the real ‘crime’ of North Korea?

The DPRK, though it has survived and come out of a period of horrible crisis that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, is still a poor and vindictively isolated country. Technically speaking, the U.S. has been at war with the DPRK since 1950.

The U.S. has led a global effort, spending many millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money to strangle the country in the last two decades. The DPRK has been the subject of the most objectionable anti-Asian racism in Washington, in the media and especially in Hollywood.

They would have you believe that North Koreans are mindlessly brainwashed, tortured, starved and humiliated, that their suffering is being caused by a despotic and crazy regime—all of which is backed up by the most virulent forms of racist caricature and stereotype.

But let’s be honest. The people of the United States know extremely little about the society of the DPRK, and there is very little about what happens inside North Korea that we can be sure about. The DPRK has adopted, in the face of decades of the most severe imperialist aggression, a self-reliant approach to the world that prioritizes defense and security.

Considering the way the United States treats independent countries in the world, the defensive posture of the DPRK is entirely understandable. After all, independence and the right to defend yourself and your country from destruction and domination is a basic human right that all peace-loving people must defend.

Even if you believe every “human rights” accusation against the DPRK (I don’t), what right does the U.S. or United Nations have to carry out the investigations or the “punishment?” Even more than that: Why should we buy into the campaign against the DPRK at all? The United States, which has tried to make the DPRK the world’s #1 pariah, is  itself the world’s #1 human rights abuser.

The human rights abuses of the United States not only include mass incarceration of people based on the color of their skin, an epidemic of racist police terror, globalized torture programs and the mass murder of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. They also include carrying out the genocide of 3 million Koreans in the Korean War, a war fought under the banners of the United Nations, the starvation of thousands of people in the DPRK under a brutal regime of sanctions and isolation, and the support of numerous South Korean human rights abuses and massacres.

What has allowed the DPRK to survive in the face of such severe aggression at the hands of the world’s most violently aggressive country? Is it really brainwashing and brutality or is it the fact that they have fiercely stood their ground against imperialism and have an independent economy based on a socialist ideal of people working together and sharing?

North Korea has faced a tough battle, one that’s very difficult for many people in the U.S. to understand. We must do whatever we can to patiently, but confidently, struggle to win our sisters and brothers over to defending the DPRK’s right to self-defense, socialist ideals and independence.

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