Doves Flying Over the Korean Peninsula
From United States’ actions and press coverage, North Korea assumes the world stage as a dynamic and mighty nation. This tiny country, which has a GDP of about 13 billion USD, equivalent to the African nation Namibia, exerts a power that forces respect and response. How, and why, can a nation, constantly described as an insular and hermit kingdom, cast a shadow that reaches 5000 miles to the United States mainland and speak with a voice that generates a worldwide listening audience?
Whatever the reasons, the invention of North Korea is coming to a stop for one principal reason — South Korea has recognized that its interests are no longer compatible with U.S. interests. After 70 years of active presence and influence on the Korean peninsula, U.S. polices and actions have not made the area stable, stimulated a more belligerent North Korea, provoked its nuclear capability, and led to the menacing destruction of the Korean peoples. Is it time for the U.S. to quietly leave and tend to its own problems? In meetings and discussions, will the two Koreas resolve their mutual problems, while other meetings with U.S. diplomats and its president are only “window dressing,” performed with gratuitous smiles and empty phrases? Events indicate it cannot be otherwise.
Did economically deprived North Korea pursue nuclear weapons to harass the United States or because it felt the nuclear route was a way to stop from being continually harassed and a means to gain leverage? What value is a nuclear weapon to an impoverished nation that can never use the weapon without being demolished? One conclusion — the North felt challenged and reluctantly met the challenge. The U.S. pushed North Korea to do exactly what the U.S. claimed it did not want. Aware of this irresponsible maneuver, the South Koreans must be frantic, and, similar to the U.S. students fighting for appropriate gun laws, be saying, “Enough!”
With the extraordinary development, which also included launching of intercontinental missiles, Kim Jung Un exalted his nation to a technological level that is equal or superior to that of his brotherly neighbor — atomic energy and nuclear weapons demand more respect than the manufacture of electric vehicles and high definition televisions. He must feel good and be ready to exert his proven power without being petulant and driven by an inferiority complex. For the North, it is the correct policy and appropriate time to implement a mutually agreeable and peaceful solution to the persistent crisis and unite the peninsula’s nations.
The hurried procession of engagement, from informal meetings during the Olympic games to formal meeting of government officials and preparations for a summit meeting of the Korean leaders, signifies that the Koreas intend to resolve their difficulties without U.S. participation. South Korean President Moon Jae-in realizes that his nation no longer benefits from U.S. protection, which allowed U.S. military presence on the Asian mainland an offensive position to counter China and as a deterrent for unifying the Koreas into an economic powerhouse that will compete more effectively with Uncle Sam.
Trump and Kim can only argue. Trump demands Kim surrender his nuclear weapons; Kim demands Trump stop military maneuvers. Why would President Trump agree to anything Kim asks? Politically, it would be wise and adept for Trump to propose or unilaterally make a decision that delights Kim rather than establishing direction based on what Kim proposes or demands. No need to meet; just show willingness to compromise.
Will Kim be willing to sidetrack a nuclear effort that took decades of sacrifice, and an abundance of resources and energy? The best that the two recalcitrant minds can gain from meeting is a North Korean promise to reduce slowly its nuclear arsenal in step with a United States promise to reduce its military footprint in South Korea and adjacent waters. Lots of promising words followed by little promising action
If, after policing the Korean peninsula for almost 70 years, and increasing tensions to ultimate instability and threat of nuclear confrontation, why would the U.S. be suddenly capable of bringing peace to the Koreans? The record of U.S. meddling in the affairs of other nations has shown magnitudes more additional destruction than relief from despair. Have not years of Uncle Sam’s interference in the Middle East and North Africa aggravated the perilous situations already existing in those regions?
One posed argument is that, yes, previous administrations have failed, but now there is a new administration that can reshape events. Not so fast. President Barack Obama promised to calm the Middle East turbulence, and learned that the forces that impel policy are not unique to a President of the United States and are more misaligned than aligned. President Donald Trump may think he is the prime decision maker, but his foreign policy record after one year in office is best characterized as leading to more war and violence, away from peaceful resolutions, contradictory, confusing, and just plain troubling. The U.S. president characterizes his contradictions and confusions as a clever strategy; to the Korean leaders, North and South, they are disturbing and dangerous.
North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, encouraged by his nation‘s technological advances and elevated importance, is prepared to take a more rational rather than emotional approach to resolving disputes.
South Korean leader, Moon Jae-in, bothered by allowing U.S. military presence on the Asian mainland an offensive position to counter China and as a deterrent for unifying the Koreas into an economic powerhouse, has determined it is time to detach his policies from those of an erratic U.S. president.
Events indicate that the North and South Koreas realize this is the time for them to resolve their difficulties. While meetings between North and South Koreans officials have been carefully planned and confirmed, the proposed meeting between President Trump and Kim Jung Un has not been firmed. If the two Koreas do not cooperate today, a nuclear confrontation may accidentally occur on the peninsula.
During the week of December 14, 2017, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in visited China and called for a “new era” in relations with its neighbor. That visit and rumors of Kim Jung Un flying to China for a meeting suppose that China and Russia, especially the former, will provide support for the Koreas, stimulating them into mutual action and serving, behind the scenes, to arbitrate their disagreements. A realignment of the two Koreas toward a federation will be slow but is inevitable.
On warm and sunny days, along the Sea of Japan, flocks of white doves have been observed. Absent for decades, they are becoming the normal condition.
(Author Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America, a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name). Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Published Date: Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 | 09:32 PM