The United States and South Korea are conducting war gains on the peninsula, and tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are heightening. Allen Ruff speaks with historian and professor Bruce Cumings to work through the current conflict.
Cumings recently asked in an article in the London Review of Books, how did we get here? Cumings said tensions between the countries comes from 72 years of facing up to the most powerful country in the world. The U.S. came into South Korea with 28,000 combat troops in 1945 just before the end of WWII, setting up a military government. Since then, a deterrent situation where the US deters the north and they deter us has been in place.
“It’s really in a way kind of a tragic history…they’ve been terrorized by our nuclear blackmail,” he said. “They’ve had to pay rapt attention to what we’re doing really for the entire existence of North Korea. Meanwhile, the United States has troops all over the world. We have to pay attention to almost everywhere.”
Bruce Cumings is award-winning historian most noted for his studies of modern Korean, among them, his two volume Origins of the Korean War and Korea’s Place in the Sun – A Modern History. He also has written numerous works on twentieth century international history, U.S.-East Asian relations, East Asian political economy, and U.S. foreign policy. A longtime public intellectual, he joined the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars a s a Columbia grad student in the 1970s and published extensively in its journal, the famed Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. He has been a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, the Nation, Current History, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Le Monde Diplomatique. His masterful Dominion From Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the U.S. gaze westward into the Pacific.