Mark Your Calendar
Fall Assembly. November 8th
Fall Assembly. November 8th
Be sure to attend our Fall Assembly on Saturday, November 8th, at the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers. It’s always a great day to bring the membership together to share our hopes and dreams for PCMNY and to learn about the wonderful activities happening throughout our region. And this year our keynote speaker will be Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, former editor of Commonweal Magazine speaking on the Peace passages in Pope Francis’s The Joy of the Gospel. Plan to spend the full day from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Peacemaking through the Arts
Good Friday Way of the Cross
40-Day Fast for Christian Nonviolence
Ending U.S. War in Korea: from Armistice to Peace
by James Kelly and Rosemarie Pace
It’s a common claim: The current war in Afghanistan is the longest U.S. war in history, but that is not true. It may be a technicality, but it is not true. The so-called “police action” in Korea in the early 1950s was a war by any other name, and it is a war that has never ended, making it a war of over 60 years.
On Sunday, October 5th, Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) hosted its UN International Peace Day event, "Ending U.S. War in Korea: from Armistice to Peace." John Kim, himself Korean born, a lawyer, and International Fellowship of Reconciliation's Representative at the UN, as well as Coordinator of the Veterans for Peace-Korea Campaign, enlightened the audience about a shameful history of U.S.-Korea relations that is over 140 years old. It is a history marked by greed, dirty deals, lust for power, and nuclear intimidation, not to mention the all-out war noted above. Using PowerPoint, video, and personal passion, Mr. Kim led us through that history from 1866 to the present with step-by-step clarity that is rare and disturbingly revealing.
Prior to 1866, any encounters between the U.S. and Korea were benign, but in1866 the American armed merchant ship, the General Sherman,disregarding Korean directives,sailed up-river, crashed, and was fired on by Korean military. Five years later, the United States returned with a military expedition of five warships and 2,000 men. They attacked Gangha Island, took five forts, and killed 100s, losing only three U.S. soldiers. In 1882, a U.S.-Korea Treatytried to reverse hostile relations with both nations pledging to seek international negotiation to prevent any further military hostility in the area and to promote “peace, amity, commerce and navigation.” But in 1905 William Howard Taft, with President Teddy Roosevelt’s secret approval, signed what is now known the Taft-Katsura Secret Agreement which gave Japan a free hand in Korea in exchange for U.S. control of Hawaii and the Philippines. In September of the same year, the Portsmouth Treaty ended the Russo-Japan war with Russia also agreeing to give Japan free-reign in Korea.
Things changed dramatically with the end of WWII. The defeat of Japan meant the division of Korea into north and south, the north going to the Soviet Union and the south going to the U.S. When the U.S. objected to Soviet advancement into the south, the official divide at the 38th parallel was arbitrarily and unilaterally established. The U.S. quickly established a military government in South Korea, distinguishing its government from that of the north and denying South Korea immediate independence. Soon after, there were local resistances to U.S. hegemony, such as theJeju Island Uprising, where up to 30,000 Koreans may have been killed, and the Yeosu Rebellion. By 1949, while many Koreans from north and south were attempting to reunite, civil war erupted with U.S. military intervention supporting the status quo of two Koreas and siding with the dictatorial southern regime. Other countries also took sides, leading to the Korean War of 1950 which was replete with war crimes from napalm to carpet bombing, killing of POWS to shooting of refugees, chemical and biological weapons to destruction of power plants and irrigation dams, and the threat to use nuclear weapons. Finally, in 1953, using the threat of a nuclear attack, the U.S. succeeded in bringing North Korea and China to the table to sign a temporary ceasefire agreement. The preamble to the 1953 Armistice Agreement, states that its ultimate purpose was to stop “the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides, and ... [to] insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peace settlement is achieved." Intended only as a temporary measure, the Armistice Agreement was meant to be replaced with a permanent peace accord in three months’ time.Needless to say, that never happened, and the Korean people are still waiting.
But much else has happened since 1953, and it is a roller coaster of ups and downs: China withdrew its military from North Korea in 1958, the same year that the U.S. introduced nuclear weapons into South Korea. In 1974 North Korea proposed a peace treaty with the U.S., but the U.S. did not respond. In 1978 the U.S.and South Koreaformed a combined military command to defend the south, but the U.S.holds the dominant voice. In 1991 the U.S.withdrew all nuclear weapons from South Korea, and in 1994 the U.S. andNorth Korea adopted an “Agreed Framework” for ending the Korean War and dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for the provision of two light-water reactors by the target date of 2003.But this too never happened. Instead, in 2002 George W. Bush unilaterally rejected the 1994 Agreed Framework and named North Korea part of the Axis of Evil subject to attack in the war against terror. While there have been inter-Korean summits in 2000 and in 2007 in which Korean leaders adopted joint declarations to pursue denuclearization and the peaceful reunification of Korea, the U.S. continues its harsh economic sanction on North Korea and its annual joint war drills. It is in reaction to all this that, in 2006, North Korea began testing its first nuclear weapons.
Today,the U.S. maintains 30,000 troops in South Korea. It has spent $3 trillion dollars on the reallongest war in American history, the “Forgotten War.”It is now engaged in the U.S. Pivot to Asia to strengthen economic control over the region. The Korean people, especially those in the north, are suffering. Families are divided between north and south; sanctions against the north deprive it of food, seeds, medicines, and technology; and fear of attack is ever-present.
All of this is why a Peace Treaty is needed NOW. We must speak out and we can speak out.
Here are some concrete things we can do:
Read Bruce Cummings, Korea’s Place In The Sun: A Modern History, 2005: NY, W. W. Norton & Co. and The Korea Peace Campaign on the webpage of Veterans for Peace www.veteransforpeace.org.
Visit http://www.asck.org, the website of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea.
Watch End the Korean War Now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxCDLDkyAUw.
Sign the petition to end the Korean War at www.endthekoreanwar.org.
Pray the prayer we prayed at the opening of this event. Click here.
Contact John Kim at email@example.com to arrange to have him speak to your group.
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