North Korea and its “great leader,” Kim Jong-Il, now have nuclear capacity. That’s a scary thing considering that the regime in North Korea is stranger than fiction. The North Korean nuclear weapons could reach both South Korea and Japan, but they don’t have the potential to reach the United States.

The nuclear test in North Korea and the bellicose reaction of the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and China illustrate how the whole of Asia is becoming a much more dangerous and volatile region. Working people and youth must oppose nuclear proliferation, militarization, and imperialist aggression and put an end to the obscene and hugely wasteful arms race that is taking place as poverty and exploitation are escalating.

Despite Kim Jong-Il’s claims, the North Korean ossified Stalinist regime has nothing in common with socialism. Socialism is democracy extended into the economy and every aspect of the lives of working people. Under socialism, the economy would be planned for the benefit of all of humanity and the planet. North Korea, on the other hand, is a totalitarian, cultish, and repressive state with an economy planned for the preservation of a tiny elite that holds its people in slave-like conditions. Power has been handed from father (Kim Il-Sung) to son (Kim Jong-Il) in a process that is reminiscent of feudal kings.

Imperialist Hypocrisy
The Bush administration and other major powers have condemned North Korea’s development of nuclear capability. These denunciations reek of hypocrisy. It is estimated that the U.S. invasion in Iraq has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The U.S., when World War II was already virtually won, dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, becoming the only country to use these devastating weapons.

The U.S. and other powers point out that the North Korean regime violated worldwide agreements in order to develop its nuclear weapons. What Bush and others don’t point out is the fact that they themselves have broken numerous anti-nuclear weapons treaties and have thousands of nuclear weapons. The U.S. has ignored its commitments under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the U.S. is a signatory to, requiring countries to work towards nuclear disarmament.

Internationally, there has been a proliferation of nuclear weapons. Countries like Israel, India, and Pakistan developed nukes behind the world’s back and either got light slaps on the wrist or praise.

The North Korean regime is partially a monster created by the U.S. The “Korean conflict” was a brutal war conducted against the workers and peasants of North Korea by the U.S. military. The U.S. air force actually ran out of things to destroy and began bombing…agricultural areas. And then we wonder why this regime is so crazy.

More recently, in 2002 Bush called North Korea part of the “Axis of Evil.” Rumsfeld said that the U.S. could fight two wars at once, an implied threat against Kim Jong-Il. To avoid a U.S. invasion, the North Korean regime developed the ultimate protection, nuclear weapons. Now the U.S. and others are carrying out sanctions. It is even possible that Japan could revise its “antiwar constitution” and begin developing a strong military presence for the first time since the end of World War II.

The South Korean regime of President Roh has continued its policy of talks, trade, and aid with North Korea, causing friction with Washington’s policy of calling for sanctions. South Korea fears that tougher sanctions could unleash unrest or provoke the unstable regime in North Korea. A collapse of Kim Jong-Il’s regime with millions of fleeing, starving refugees would cause huge problems socially and economically for both South Korea and China.

Capitalist Instability and War
After the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the capitalist theoreticians promised unending stability. Francis Fukuyama wrote about “the end of history,” while others envisaged unrivaled U.S. power and a century of worldwide domination. Instead, we have seen more conflict and rivalries between nations than at any time since World War II. Alongside this, there is an alarming proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This is a product of capitalism, a system that encourages national ruling elites to compete with each other to divide up the world in their own interests. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent worldwide for the super-rich of each nation to develop weapons that are capable of massive destruction. The best scientists, instead of being focused on curing diseases or solving hunger, are forced to find new ways to destroy lives.

There is potential for instability and war in the world situation. There is also a worldwide war already being conducted. Working people are under attack, here in the U.S. and throughout the world. Lower wages, privatization, the cutting of benefits, and layoffs are all a product of the worldwide war on workers. This war requires our side to get organized and fight back.

The working class, by sweeping away this militaristic and exploitative society, can find the strength to build a world without nukes, without poverty, and without corporate domination.