Monday, April 30, 2018

Why We Can Be Cautiously Optimistic About North Korea

North Korea has been a major problem for world peace and a major security threat to the U.S and its allies for some time. But some recent developments suggest this may be changing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un did something totally unprecedented when he crossed the border to talk peace, a formal end to the Korean War and the denuclearizing of the Korean peninsula with South Korean President Moon Moon Jae-in.And a formal meeting with President Trump appears to be upcoming.

The President himself mentioned it at a rally in Michigan on Saturday night, saying,“I think we will have a meeting over the next three or four weeks,” he said. “It’s going be a very important meeting, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But we’ll see how it goes. I may go in, it may not work out, I leave.”

Needless to say, there have been a fair amount of skeptical and cautionary statements about this development. Some of them are justified, others are simply based on partisan hatred of this president. And while I'm not prepared to schedule the party quite yet, I'm cautiously optimistic. Here's why.

Kim Jong Un has finally realized he isn't dealing with Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, but with a far different personality, someone who is committed to solving this problem whatever it takes. President Trump responding to Kim's threats by saying that "the button on my desk is bigger and it works" obviously had an effect. No one has ever talked to the North Koreans in quite that way, ever. Instead, they've be cosseted, bribed and simply ignored. Kim knows that President Trump is not going to respond to a missile fired over Japan by simply shrugging his shoulders and saying 'there's nothing we can do' as the Obama Administration did. And he's also had a number of incidents occur to let him know that things have changed.

North Korea's main trading partner is China, who have always been fond of having a pit bull on their border to distract attention from China's doings when they needed it. President Trump ended that by pressuring China to enact sanctions on the Kim regime that cut the trade by an estimated 90 percent. Apparently the Chinese have realized that North Korea has gotten out of control.

Another 'mysterious' incident involved North Korea's main nuclear testing area under Mantapsan Mountain. It was mostly destroyed when the entire mountain collapsed. While some people are calling it an earthquake caused by too much underground testing or too much tunneling, there's also a fair amount of evidence that the incident was man made and could very well have been a message from either the Chinese or the U.S. that it was time to get serious about dismantling the Nork's nuclear weapons program...or else. Kim Jong-Un is already saying that he will shut down all of his nuclear testing and research areas publicly, in front of foreign experts. So it looks like a case of message received, so far.

And finally, President Trump has surrounded himself with intelligent and savvy team members. John Bolton is one of the world's most knowledgeable experts on nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation, and our new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is no fool either, and Kim Jong-Un knows it. We're not talking about dealing with the likes of  Hillary Clinton, John Kerry or Madeline Albright here.

Finally, like most dictators, Kim Jong-Un is quite concerned with face and his personal prestige, especially with his oversized military. I doubt he would be risking that by making these gestures and saying what he's saying if it weren't a matter of sheer personal survival.

So for the above reasons, I'm cautiously optimistic. And if President Trump actually pulls this off, he does indeed deserve the Nobel Peace Prize...certainly far more than his predecessor Barack Obama.


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