Cheney Free Press -

Too many no-win scenarios with North Korea

In Our Opinion


A recent survey noted people who could find North Korea on a map were more inclined to support diplomatic resolutions to the nuclear weapons crisis surrounding that isolated totalitarian state, while those who didn’t know where it was were likely to support a military resolution.

Maps can be difficult. More appropriate might be to locate the communist Asian country by using a nighttime satellite photo of the region.

Here, North Korea is easy to find — it’s the big black hole surrounded by a ring of lights.

There are many things about this isolated country people might not know. For starters, the 1950–1953 Korean War was not technically a war since the U.S. Congress never made such a declaration — although from all appearances you’d never know it wasn’t a war.

Just ask those who fought in it, or the families of the 36,516 Americans who died in it. All told, over 1.2 million people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict — Americans, Chinese, North and South Koreans and others from United Nations countries.

Sounds like a war to us.

Also, that war hasn’t technically ended. The armistice signed on July 27, 1953 stopped the fighting without resolution. It also required the major belligerents, both Koreas, China and the U.S. to continue holding peace talks.

North Korea is doing everything opposite of attempting to seek a peaceful existence with its neighbors. Current leader Kim Jong-Un’s pursuit of nuclear strike capabilities has brought the world to a flashpoint where the smallest provocation could ignite a war, not only on the peninsula but a larger conflict.

Kim’s recent testing of an ICBM with the potential to reach targets in Alaska has the U.S. administration once again rattling sabers in response. So far, he hasn’t demonstrated a reliability to strike outside the immediate region, if that, and it’s unlikely the North Koreans have many nuclear weapons of any type.

But just one or two successfully detonated nukes against Kim’s enemies could be enough to kill tens of thousands of people and cause untold physical and economic damage.

So, what to do about North Korea? Past relations show they can’t be trusted.

Witness 1994’s Agreed Frameworks Pact where the North agreed to freeze operation and construction of nuclear reactors suspected of being part of a covert nuclear weapons program in exchange for two proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors. The agreement also called upon the U.S. to supply North Korea with fuel oil pending construction of the reactors.

But like Lucy pulling the football away before Charlie Brown can kick it, the North violated the agreement by continuing its enrichment program.

Economic sanctions don’t seem to be working either. While mostly isolated and importing more than it exports, North Korea continues to send goods to countries such as Pakistan, India and many African nations.

It also conducts trade with our allies such as Mexico, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines, just to name a few names. And it’s largest partner, next-door-neighbor China, has increased trade the first couple quarters of 2017 by 40 percent, despite the Trump Administration’s mistaken belief that China would work with us on taming North Korea.

FYI, China has repeatedly said North Korea is not their problem.

That leaves the military option, but that’s also a no-win scenario. Even if we could successfully take out North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, they still have one of the largest armies in the world, easily capable of overrunning their southern neighbor even with our assistance.

And, if we also took out Kim, who’s to say someone crazier than him wouldn’t assume power.

What to do about North Korea? Perhaps the best hope is to look at another nuclear weapons standoff from the past — 1963’s Cuban Missile Crisis. The moves that brought the world back from the brink of Armageddon were back-channel communications between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that allowed both to save face while making concessions.

Maybe, we have a way to do that with North Korea.


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