On the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, GGJ Stands with our partners at Women Cross DMZ calling for an end to the war, the reunification of separated families, and the establishment of a peace process that centers the leadership of women. Contrary to popular belief, the Korean War never ended. It has been protracted into seven decades of political tensions with world-changing consequences. It was through the Korean War that the United States first launched its global military presence without officially declaring war, anchoring its geopolitical foothold on the pretense of peace.
The Korean war began on June 25, 1950, when the North Korean Army advanced into South Korea to unify the peninsula, after the United States and the Soviet Union had divided it into two separate states. Koreans had lived under Japanese imperialist rule from 1910 to 1945. Japanese imperialism was brutal, forcing Koreans to abandon their language, faith, and capturing and trafficking millions of women as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers. When the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, defeating Japan in World War II, a devastated Korea was divided by the U.S. and the Soviet Union into North and South, a communist and a capitalist state, marking the beginnings of the Cold War. Between June of 1950 and July of 1953, North Korea and South Korea fought backed by China and the United States, respectively. Most soldiers in combat were Chinese and American, not Korean. Yet, more than three million Koreans died in the midst of active combat, and 70% of them were civilians. An armistice was reached on July 27th, 1953, but the war never ended. Over the years, tensions have ebbed and flowed, sometimes bringing the countries to the brink of active combat again.
Today, there are approximately 29,048 American soldiers in South Korea, 63,435 in Japan, 46,900 in Germany, 15,478 in Italy and 9,119 in the UK. Although the Department of Defense stopped reporting military deployment figures to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in 2017, their September 2019 budget requests to Congress reveal that an estimated 77,000 troops are stationed across the three countries. Following Trump’s drone strike on Iraq that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, 3,500 troops were added. An additional estimated 76,000 troops are stationed throughout the Middle East in unofficial military operations for an estimated total of 156,500 troops in the region. There are an estimated 800 U.S. military bases in 80 countries, and over half of the US discretionary budget for 2021, $636 billion of $1.485 trillion, is expected to go to the military.
There is no security in war, no safety in a U.S. world police. We call for the disbandment of US military bases and an end to sanctions, which is war by other means. As transnational feminists united against militarization and war, we call for a feminist foreign policy that reorients the United States’ role in the global community to prioritize interdependence, connection and cooperation, justice, valuing people and the planet over profit. We call for investments in a feminist economy to build a more socially fair and ecologically sustainable society.
The militaristic framework of security has failed us both domestically and internationally. Massive investments in the Pentagon have wreaked violence and instability around the world through the support of dictatorships, coups, the “war on drugs”, “war on trafficking”, and settler colonial states, resulting in the displacement of millions of people worldwide.
A cornerstone of US foreign policy is sanctions, which is war by other means. Given the interconnectedness of the global economy, sanctions are another lethal form of militarism, impeding economic development and hampering delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid, life-saving medicine and medical equipment.
The Covid19 pandemic calls on us to challenge our militarized notions of security. Security for whom? Security from what? We know from experience that working class people in the United States are deployed abroad to protect the interests of the wealthy, whether that is access to oil or capitalist hegemony. These are not wars to keep us safe. If anything, wars abroad set the precedents for weaponry that will be used at home, as local police departments are militarized and migration enforcement becomes the frontier of domestic persecution.
That is why earlier this year, GGJ convened the Feminist Foreign Policy working group, 23 women and gendernonconforming people from across the United States, to engage in a cross-movement dialogue against militarism in order to examine, challenge and reimagine US foreign policy. As transnational feminists united against militarization and war, we call for a feminist foreign policy that reorients the United States’ role in the global community to prioritize interdependence, connection and cooperation, justice, valuing people and the planet over profit.
As members of an international community, we call for investments in a feminist economy to build a more socially fair and ecologically sustainable society.