FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump-Kim Meeting Could Make War Less Likely

Photo by David Stanley | CC BY 2.0

Donald Trump is taking a lot of heat for his snap decision to talk face to face with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. His aides caution that the meeting may never take place, that concrete conditions must be met for it to happen.

Conservative pundits and foreign policy pundits fret that Trump has given Kim recognition that North Korean dictators have sought for decades in exchange for a mere promise to pause missile and nuclear tests. Republican Sen. Corey Gardner calls for “concrete, verified steps towards denuclearization before this meeting occurs.” Even Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren describes a face-to-face meeting as “a win for them. It legitimizes, in their view, their dictatorship and legitimizes their nuclear weapons program.”

Admittedly, President Trump’s sudden agreement is a head-spinning reversal of direction from schoolyard taunts and threats of war to an agreement to meet and talk. But I would rather Trump and Kim talk to each other than threaten each other with war and nuclear weapons.

It may be that Kim craves the recognition and Trump the flattery, but these caricatures are irrelevant. Whether they agree to agree or agree to disagree, their meeting can make war less likely. I have always believed that one can talk without conditions toward an agreement with concrete and verifiable conditions. The notion that Kim will give up his nuclear weapons program as a precondition to any talk is nonstarter, a recipe for increasing tensions and escalating crisis.

It is time to get real. North Korea is a dictatorship and an impoverished country, crippled by a failed economic system and harsh international sanctions. It is also a nuclear power, in possession of 20 to 60 nuclear weapons. It has sustained its nuclear weapons program in the face of immense international pressure.

After George Bush named it part of the “axis of evil” with Iraq and Iran, North Korean leaders had every reason to believe that nuclear weapons – and their ability to destroy South Korea’s capital with conventional weapons – were essential to deter any attack on them. Kim no doubt noticed when the U.S. and its allies took out Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi after he got rid of his nuclear weapons.

There is no rational military “solution” to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. An attack by the U.S. is unimaginable, with millions of lives in South Korea at risk. Threats and juvenile taunts about having a bigger nuclear button only ratchet up tensions. Escalating and ever more aggressive military exercises only increase the possibility of a war by miscalculation.

This opening comes from the initiative of South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, who has worked tirelessly to lessen tensions between North and South and to broker a meeting with U.S. and North Korean officials. He embraced North Korea’s participation in the winter Olympics. Kim sent his sister with an invitation to a summit.

While Vice President Mike Pence startled Koreans with his lack of manners and hard line at the Olympics, President Moon responded positively, dispatching envoys to North Korea to continue the talks and begin to arrange a summit. At that meeting, Kim stunned the diplomats by saying that he was open to talking with the Americans about his nuclear program, willing to suspend nuclear and missile testing to open the way for talks without insisting that the U.S. and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises that have always been a source of tension.

This caught the U.S. by surprise. We have no ambassador in South Korea. The State Department’s top diplomat in charge of North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, recently retired. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was essentially out of the loop when Trump made his snap decision to agree to a meeting.

Can the talks take us from the edge of co-annihilation to the possibility of co-existence? That’s surely unknown. The hermetic kingdom of North Korea is one of the most closed countries in the world. It is separated from the world by a wall, so it lives in the shadows, which allows propaganda, fear, lies and rumor to define reality.

It will take more than one summit to resolve this crisis. South Korea’s president will meet with Kim before Trump does. Trump and Moon would be wise to suspend this spring’s U.S.-South Korean military exercises unilaterally, as a gesture of good will before the talks.

Any agreement will meet formidable obstacles. Could an agreement be verified, given North Korea’s fear of outside observers? Will the U.S. and its allies ease sanctions if Kim agrees to discontinue nuclear and missile tests, as a first step toward peaceful relations? What would be necessary to make North Korea confident that they won’t be attacked if they disarm?

One thing is clear. It is far better that Trump and Kim are moving toward talks rather than escalating threats. Negotiations are preferable to name calling and missile rattling. Trump’s decision to accept Kim’s offer was characteristically impulsive, abrupt and unbriefed.

 

 

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Are Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail