The best plan to deal with North Korea

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ed­i­to­rial ap­peared in the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette:

North Korea presents what is per­haps Amer­ica’s most dan­ger­ous and ur­gent dilemma at the mo­ment. So what should the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion do?

Here is the prob­lem. The Py­ongyang regime of Leader Kim Jong Un, pretty much a one-trick pony with that steed be­ing its nu­clear weapon-mis­sile pro­gram, has proved it­self over the years to be very hard to deal with. Six-party talks, in­clud­ing South Korea, North Korea, China, Ja­pan, Rus­sia and the United States, haven’t worked. Var­i­ous pal­lia­tive, con­cil­ia­tory ap­proaches to North Korea by var­i­ous South Korean regimes haven’t worked ei­ther.

Trump is pur­su­ing a pol­icy of push­ing China to rein in North Korea.

The over­all pic­ture is one of North Korea rep­re­sent­ing a re­al­is­tic, lethal threat to South Korea. The south­ern cap­i­tal is 55 kilo­me­tres from the North Korean bor­der. North Korea’s army num­bers an es­ti­mated 1.4 mil­lion. Whether North Korea can or will present a cred­i­ble in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal threat to the United States is in doubt, but at this point un­likely.

No­body doubts that the United States could an­ni­hi­late North Korea in a war. It is even quite pos­si­ble that Amer­ica al­ready pos­sesses tech­nol­ogy that can ham­string North Korea’s mil­i­tary en­ter­prises. There is some ugly sus­pi­cion that Trump might like a war to es­tab­lish his own cred­i­bil­ity as pres­i­dent, al­though that would be re­mark­ably ir­re­spon­si­ble. Thus, how­ever, the field is par­tic­u­larly open to diplo­macy at the high­est level, giv­ing Kim, Trump and Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping the op­por­tu­nity to put lots of points on the board for lead­er­ship, at home as well as abroad.

So here’s what could hap­pen: Trump asks Xi to set up a meet­ing in Bei­jing at which Kim and he meet as guests of Xi to es­tab­lish peace and avoid war in the Korean Penin­sula.

Kim gets the se­ri­ous recog­ni­tion he clearly wants. Xi looks like the peace-seek­ing big dog of the neigh­bour­hood. Trump looks like the wise leader who used his new pres­tige to bring peace and avoid war, even while Amer­ica’s mus­cle re­mains vis­i­ble. With such talks set up, un­der­way or com­pleted suc­cess­fully, ev­ery­one could sleep much bet­ter.

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