The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By James Shipman
Valley County Voices 

Rolling Dice on Korea


March 14, 2018

In a surprise twist on Thursday, President Donald Trump agreed to a meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. If the meeting takes place it would be the first ever between a sitting president and the leader of North Korea.

Pyongyang has long sought a summit with the US to reflect what the regime sees as its status as an equal on the geopolitical stage. This is a big gamble for our President. Between Trump’s history of bungling other diplomatic relations and North Korea’s history of backing out of promises, this meeting has huge risks. Huge risk may bring huge rewards, if this meeting is successful.

North Korea has been a problem for the US since the unofficial end to the Korean War (with no peace treaty, technically we are still at war). Former presidents have tried and failed to bring a working resolution for peace and denuclearization.

This is due to a long history of North Korea and its false promises. In 1994, the Agreed Framework was an agreement made to facilitate the de-nuclearization of North Korea and stop their plutonium production. This, however, fell apart in 2003 under George W. Bush when intelligence officials stated that North Korea was enriching uranium after being declared by Bush as an “Axis of Evil."

This worsened relations that seemed optimistic at the time and pushed our two countries further from the table. In 2012, another agreement was made for a suspension of long range missile and nuclear weapon activity in exchange for humanitarian aid. North Korea did halt nuclear testing but launched a satellite on a powerful rocket that could be used as a missile. Since that time, tensions have been rising as the US and Japan continue their war games and North Korea continues their testing with neither side willing to back down.

Which is why this seems so bizarre. Even the announcement of the meeting is strange. First, there is no written or public declaration for the meeting from North Korea.

It is merely an oral agreement passed down from the South Korea diplomats to the president. They claim Kim Jong-un will halt all missile and nuclear tests during the meeting in an effort to bring our president to the table. In Trump-like fashion, our president immediately agreed to the meeting without any preconditions or statement from the North Korean government. Since then, the White House has taken a few steps back demanding “concrete and verifiable actions to denuclearization” as a precondition to these talks. Whether North Korea agrees and follows through is a different story.

If successful, this could mean a benchmark for the Trump administration. It could potentially bring peace between two countries that have been at odds for nearly 70 years. This, of course, it not without risk.

The US government has never officially recognized North Korea as a legitimate country. This meeting between the two leaders would de facto legitimize North Korea as a nation. Kim Jong-un could then use the meeting to legitimize his own regime domestically and abroad, solidifying his place on the world stage.

Donald Trump has been proven to be vulnerable to flattery and Kim Jong-un could use that to manipulate the meeting to his favor. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) stated, “If the result of this meeting is not verifiable concrete steps to denuclearization, it will be a failure.” Trump has a lot riding on this gamble. With some already trying to set the stage for war, this meeting between two unstable leaders could lead to disaster.

Nonetheless, diplomacy is vital to keeping peace. This meeting could open a new dialogue between our two nations. This could usher in a new era of foreign policy for North Korea with the potential for peace and disarmament of their nuclear weapons. The only way to achieve security for our allies in the region and the millions of lives at stake, is through diplomacy.

The White House has remarked that the meeting will happen sometime in May with the time and place yet to be determined. Plans are underway to achieve this. Only time will tell if the meeting even happens. Either way, it is imperative to speak to our enemies to achieve peace. We are truly rolling the dice here. Pray that fortune favors us.


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