G-20 must face North Korean threat
THE SPECTATOR’S VIEW
The world became a markedly more dangerous and unpredictable place on Tuesday when North Korea announced it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon that could strike American soil.
And to make the situation even more frightening, America’s erratic president, Donald Trump, appears incapable of peacefully containing this significant threat to global security.
That leaves the world standing, regrettably, in an alligator-infested swamp without an exit plan.
If the North Korean claim is true, and many Western analysts say it is plausible, that isolated, totalitarian, seemingly paranoid “Hermit Kingdom” could within a few years be able to hit the northwest coast of North America — Alaska and even parts of Canada — with a nuclear-tipped device.
The United States has long been adamant it will not tolerate North Korea obtaining such power.
Indeed, in January, Trump pledged North Korea’s development of such a weapon “won’t happen.”
Yet today, in defiance of his words, Pyongyang may possess that supposedly forbidden long-range missile and, by 2020, be able to arm it with a nuclear weapon.
Of course, the possibility North Korea could strike the continental U.S. with such lethal force — and trigger nuclear retaliation — is only part of a greater problem.
It is in a far closer striking range of two of its regional neighbours, South Korea and Japan, who are staunch American allies.
The threat North Korea poses to millions of lives and global peace did not emerge overnight.
On Monday, the day before the missile test, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, warned any further escalation of the already high tensions with North Korea could result in a crisis beyond anyone’s control, “and the consequences would be disastrous.”
The ambassador urged key nations to support China’s proposals for easing tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
A major part of that plan calls for “suspension for suspension” which would see North Korea stop testing missiles and nuclear devices in return for the U.S. and South Korea halting military exercises in the region. Trump may not be receptive to such compromise. He has, moreover, been critical of China for being unable to rein in its North Korean neighbour.
What the world can see, however, is that the American reliance on economic sanctions against North Korea and pressuring China to solve the problem haven’t worked. Nor have Trump’s hyperbolic threats and displays of military might in the region deterred Korean leader Kim Jong-un from his nuclear ambitions.
In light of such failure, Trump should give strong consideration to China’s proposals.
They might put the brakes on North Korea’s nuclear drive, if not stop it entirely.
With the Group of 20 nations meeting in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday, the world’s leading economic and military powers have a time, place and opportunity in which to search out a diplomatic solution.
Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, may be able to play the honest broker between the U.S. and China, a country with which he has established more cordial ties.
If nothing tried so far has worked, it’s time to try something else.