Talk to, Don’t Provoke, North Korea, by Sheldon Richman

According to Sheldon Richman, one good thing Bill Clinton did was negotiate an agreement with North Korea that stopped them from building nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, that agreement was tossed out by George W. Bush. From Richman at antiwar.com:

There’s little more we can do than hope that some cool heads around Donald Trump are telling him he’d be nuts to attack North Korea. I don’t know who they might be. Still, we must hope.

It doesn’t take a lifetime of study to know that, fortunately, no military resolution of the standoff is available. Ten million South Koreans live within artillery reach of the capital of Seoul, some 30 miles from the demilitarized zone separating North and South. Nearly 30,000 U.S. military personnel are around there too. North Korea has thousands of underground and undersea military facilities that American bombs and missiles would not find. A conventional US attack would be catastrophic, a nuclear attack far, far worse, for the horrifying effects would spill over to China and Japan.

So what would be accomplished? Nothing good. That’s for sure.

Where, then, is the Trump from a year ago? You know, the one who said, “I would speak to him [North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un]. I would have no problem speaking to him.”? As we well know, there are many Donald Trumps. Well, that’s the one we need now. Instead we have sabre-rattling Trump, along with Vice President Pence and others on the national-security squad.

The two governments have much to talk about. (Alas, as long as we’re stuck with the Westphalian system, we must make the best of it.) First things first. And by first, I mean peace.

Yes, Kim, like his father and grandfather before him, is a tyrant. But when has that ever stopped an American president from dealing with — and often befriending — a ruler? Never. American presidents have allied with some of the most ruthless heads of states of the 20th century. Trump recently entertained a tyrant — al-Sisi of Egypt — at the White House, praising him profusely. Then he called the head of Turkey — Erdogan — to congratulate him on expanding his autocratic powers through the ballot box. Nixon went to meet Mao Zedong, one of the great mass murderers in history, to open normal relations with what we once called Red China.

Kim and North Korea, therefore, are not unique in that respect. But they are unique in another way. The US government fought an undeclared war — sorry, police action — alongside South Korea’s own tyrant — Syngman Rhee — against North Korea and Kim’s grandfather — Kim Il-sung — from 1950 to 1953 because President Harry Truman didn’t want the Republicans saying he “lost Korea.” The US Air Force obliterated the country through carpet bombing after Truman decided atomic bombs were not practical, in contrast to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, a few years earlier. The bombing and shooting stopped with an armistice, but no peace treaty was ever signed to formally end the war. For decades, the North Korean government has sought that treaty and a nonaggression pact with the US government, but the requests always fell on deaf ears.

To continue reading: Talk to, Don’t Provoke, North Korea

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One response to “Talk to, Don’t Provoke, North Korea, by Sheldon Richman

  1. He who rides the tiger of appeasement, dismounts at his own peril.

    Like

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