Join hands to avert a nu­clear show­down

Deccan Chronicle - - EDIT -

The Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter had hardly fin­ished talk­ing to Naren­dra Modi on the North Korean threat to his coun­try when Kim Jong-un launched an­other of his mis­siles on Fri­day whose flight path was over the north­ern Ja­panese is­land of Hokkaido. Like an obese kid with an out­sized toy, Mr Kim is push­ing his luck to see how much he can nee­dle the West even as the lat­ter piles on trade sanc­tions in re­tal­i­a­tion. Mr Kim’s iso­lated coun­try has been try­ing to de­velop a long-range mis­sile ca­pa­ble first of reach­ing Guam, the naval base in the Pa­cific, and then the US it­self. Helped in his en­deav­ours by his chief pa­tron China and a sneaky Pak­istan, which had slipped in nu­clear tech­nol­ogy, North Korea is en­sur­ing that its fate won’t be that of Iraq, which was in­vaded for the “weapons of mass de­struc­tion” it had sup­pos­edly pos­sessed dur­ing the Sad­dam Hus­sein regime. In its ties with North Korea, China is thought to be ca­pa­ble of rock­ing the cra­dle and pinch­ing the child. In its re­sponses, the US has been fu­elled by the strong rhetoric of Don­ald Trump who prom­ises to vapourise a coun­try that is pos­ing threats. His of­fi­cials strike a more cau­tious pose, look­ing at ways of bring­ing to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble Mr Kim whose friend­ship with a US bas­ket­ball star adds a bizarre coun­ter­point to the talk of war. Mean­while, sanc­tions are hardly caus­ing a rip­ple as China and Rus­sia re­fused to heed calls for tight­en­ing trade and North Korea finds ways to smug­gle goods in to fill its needs. In any case, sanc­tions only hit the poor­est as the most dis­ad­van­taged die of star­va­tion if es­sen­tials don’t reach them thanks to the re­stric­tions on trade. North Korea’s grow­ing GDP, based on ris­ing do­mes­tic de­mand, means sanc­tions have a lesser im­pact.

The coun­tries near­est to the mis­sile threat like South Korea and Ja­pan are feel­ing the heat. With the Korean War never hav­ing been set­tled by a peace treaty, the South feels obliged to launch mis­sile test of its own while ask­ing to get the re­stric­tions waived so it can pre­pare an ar­se­nal ca­pa­ble of re­ply­ing to the threat from the North. A nu­clear show­down is not what the world needs in the 21st cen­tury, but how do you tell that to a dic­ta­tor who is de­ter­mined to re­tal­i­ate with in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments in the flight range ca­pa­bil­i­ties of his mis­siles? He also blasts an oc­ca­sional ther­monu­clear de­vice to serve a re­minder of his coun­try’s prow­ess.

His­tory would sug­gest diplo­macy is the only way to avert the ul­ti­mate con­fronta­tion and all coun­tries, most of all In­dia, should make the ef­fort to give peace a chance. Nei­ther Mr Kim nor the White House oc­cu­pant seems ca­pa­ble of any­thing but brinkman­ship, in word and deed. The rest of the world is busy fend­ing off ter­ror­ism as a threat to its way of life in the mod­ern era. There is good rea­son to fear for the world when the ter­ror of tech­nol­ogy is stronger than that of dic­ta­tors or sol­diers.

His­tory would sug­gest diplo­macy is the only way to avert the ul­ti­mate con­fronta­tion of war and all coun­tries, most of all In­dia, should make the ef­fort to give peace a chance to save the world

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