U.S. Establishes Itself as a Terror to Navigation on the Open Seas

May 27, 2019

A merchant vessel owned and operated by the Korea Songi Shipping Company of North Korea was illegally impounded on May 9 by U.S. pirates and taken to American Samoa in the South Pacific.

Immediately following the ship's capture and relocation, the U.S. Justice Department initiated a domestic procedure under the U.S. criminal justice system, in place for seizure of the property of U.S. citizens. In this case, an attempt is being made to apply the domestic action to an international conflict. In order to engage a pseudo-legal procedure, the U.S. Justice Department is linking the event to its acceptance of a civil forfeiture complaint from the FBI’s New York Field Office.

The pretext for the piracy of the North Korean vessel hinges on complaints the Justice Department, and U.S. government and capitalist ruling class as a whole, have about North Korea's right to engage in free trade.

According to the May 9 Press Release from the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs:

"Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office announced today the filing of a civil forfeiture complaint against M/V Wise Honest (the “Wise Honest”), a 17,061-ton, single-hull bulk carrier ship registered in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK” or “North Korea”). The Wise Honest, one of North Korea’s largest bulk carriers, was used to illicitly ship coal from North Korea and to deliver heavy machinery to the DPRK. Payments for maintenance, equipment, and improvements of the Wise Honest were made in U.S. dollars through unwitting U.S. banks. This conduct violates longstanding U.S. law and United Nations Security Council resolutions."

Assistant Attorney General Demers also said, “This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service. North Korea, and the companies that help it evade U.S. and U.N. sanctions, should know that we will use all tools at our disposal — including a civil forfeiture action such as this one or criminal charges — to enforce the sanctions enacted by the U.S. and the global community. We are deeply committed to the role the Justice Department plays in applying maximum pressure to the North Korean regime to cease its belligerence."

According to U.S. Attorney Berman, “Today’s civil action is the first-ever seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions. Our Office uncovered North Korea’s scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest. This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea, helping expand North Korea’s capabilities and continuing the cycle of sanctions evasion. With this seizure, we have significantly disrupted that cycle. We are willing and able to deploy the full array of law enforcement tools to detect, deter, and prosecute North Korea’s deceptive attempts to evade sanctions."

One prominent feature of the aggressive interdiction perpetrated by U.S. imperialism is that it represents an attempt to elevate the U.S. government's own domestic laws in order to pass them off as internationally binding ones.

So too, enlisting blackmail, bullying, and all-out sea piracy against U.S. competitive rivals, and enlisting other countries in aggressive alliances which endorse such crimes, is a dangerous precedent to set. If left unchecked, it will soon enough assume even greater proportions and add significantly to the many ways in which U.S. imperialism is already saddling the world with grave dangers of war.

Even while demonstrating its determination to carry out aggression against North Korea, the U.S. is simultaneously employing the tactics of imperialist pacifism. "Sticks" such as sanctions are combined with "carrots" such as promises that baby steps by the U.S. will remove the danger of further U.S. aggression against Korea. Both of these are two sides of the same coin. They work together as a tactic for wresting concessions from North Korea, breaking the U.S. out of its deadlock in Asia, and securing for the U.S. an ongoing role as world policeman.

The issue confronting the anti-war movement is twofold. Firstly, it is to avert the new wars the U.S. is preparing against national liberation movements and governments which stand up against the dictates of U.S. imperialism, whether those dictates are expressed through aggressive military alliances or unilaterally. Second, it is to overthrow the modern imperialist system in order to permanently eliminate the root cause of war in the 21st century.

The anti-imperialist sentiment of the broad masses of the American people is being expressed in workplaces, communities, schools and elsewhere, all across the country. It is important to keep information and analysis about the truth of U.S. aggression against North Korea in the forefront as we organize. So too, Korea is but one front in a worldwide war program being carried out by the two parties of war. The growing consciousness and initiative of the independent political movement is fortifying itself daily, and will not relinquish its striving to advance on the path towards an anti-war government in which the decision-making power is vested in the people themselves. This will enable the American people to embark on a program of withdrawing all U.S. troops stationed abroad and implementing a Democratic Foreign Policy that starts with respect for the sovereignty of countries.