Tensions between North Korea and the US have flared up under the Trump Administration. Pyongyang’s relations with the International Community may, however, be thawing. The Kim regime, for example, has decided to send athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics. At the same time, US President Donald Trump has said he is open to talks with North Korea. These developments are not, of course, likely to materialize into any meaningful discussions, unless a realistic, achievable, and productive objective is identified. In other words, the Trump Administration needs to bring a deal to the negotiating table that can address the issues surrounding the nuclear North Korean threat for all of the parties involved. Given the proper diplomatic framework, it can do just that.
The International Community has spent decades trying to appease the Kim regime in a vain effort to avert the potential for a nuclear conflict by building some kind of working relationship with the rogue state. In recent years, appeasement has had to be abandoned in favor of pressing North Korean ally China to keep Pyongyang in check. As this approach has largely been ineffective, preparations, including the deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems to minimize the threat posed to South Korea and Japan, have become necessary, which has angered China as these efforts represent potential threats to China.
The overall problem with North Korea is that the International Community finds itself in a vicious cycle where the communist nation engages in provocative conduct, which forces a reaction at a hefty cost to the treasuries of world powers, then Pyongyang begs for humanitarian aid in the wake of another food crisis before the North engages in even worse behavior. Continually enabling North Korea's reckless behavior has only encouraged an escalation of its disruptive, self-destructive policies. As the impoverished nation advances its nuclear ambitions, the situation will continually get worse. China’s influence over the North, therefore, offers the best chance. Unfortunately, China is very leery of becoming a target for North Korea, which it should be.
Pyongyang has flirted with improved US relations as part of an apparent attempt to counter Chinese influence while it also attempted to do the same with Russia. This should be received by Beijing as a warning that North Korea is willing to target China. As such, China has a choice to make. If it attempts to punish the North as it has done in the past, Kim Jong-Un is likely to lash out against China instead of capitulating. If China ignores the threat of the North and focuses too heavily on the US-allied response, China will force the US to react with a military response. Beijing’s dedication to its longtime ally and refusal to cave under US pressure attracts praise and increased diplomatic leverage for China. Because North Korea is a danger to everyone, however, Beijing’s resistance “to protect” Asia from North Korea also undermines Beijing’s influence.
Furthermore, the psychology of North Korea is that of an insecure, paranoid person who becomes increasingly aggressive and domineering when he feels more confident. The rogue state is very much an isolated, insecure nation thoroughly afraid of the outside world while it is also a narcissist, self-righteous country convinced of its own national and racial supremacy. By defying international conventions and engaging the world in a hostile manner since the Korean War stagnated into an armistice sixty years ago, the rogue state has acted as a state terrorist that has successfully used violence and threat of violence to demand continuous ransom from the International Community.
Insecure people seeking a sense of security can benefit from a criticism free environment. By affording such individuals reasonable concessions when they engage in disagreeable behaviors, they can learn to both trust and behave in a more acceptable fashion. By contrast, insecure persons, who express their insecurities in a domineering, aggressive manner, will be less likely to benefit from such an environment, because these individuals view concessions to be appeasements. As these individuals begin to feel more secure, they tend to grow increasingly aggressive and domineering.
Consequently, the only means of managing their misbehavior is by forcibly stopping the misbehavior and/or offering punishments that demonstrate the willingness and ability of a legitimate authority to prevent the misbehavior. The world is at a critical juncture where the lack of a sufficient response to North Korean provocation will lead to escalating aggression on behalf of the North Koreans. That is until the world finds itself in a major war that could start with a nuclear blast. As frightening as the potential of escalation is, a failure to act will lead to a situation where North Korea will be more likely to use nuclear weapons at a time when it will have a larger stockpile and better delivery systems. An armed conflict would, however, be a disastrous failure.
That said, the US and its allies have sponsored round after round of economic sanctions designed specifically to encourage the North’s citizens to pressure the Kim regime. Quite frankly, the North Korean government has essentially created a national cult that severely punishes individual and novel thought. This means the culture is stagnate and unlikely to revolt against government misbehavior. Unfortunately, crippling sanctions have also largely failed for this exact reason, so they cannot be relied upon. It is time we break the vicious cycle Pyongyang has forced upon the world and its People. All diplomatic efforts going forward must, therefore, be aimed at reversing North Korea's progress on nuclear weapons
Looking at the "oil for food program” in Iraq, which admittedly Saddam Hussein did abuse, a solution may be available. North Korea is a poor country in many ways, yet it is rich enough to sustain a massive military, which includes warships and an aggressive nuclear program. As such, it has the wealth to buy, or barter for, basic necessities like food. Given the fact the North costs the US and South Korea with its use of war machines, they can give up their hardware to feed their People. Coupled with an agreement to resume denuclearization, a "weapons for food" program could help the International Community push North Korea to start disarming while addressing the cyclical humanitarian crisis that undermines its society.
Read old posts