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What to Expect from North Korea in the Olympics

February 8, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The two Koreas are sending a united women’s hockey team to the
upcoming Olympic games. The Moon government’s invitation was
controversial in the South, where residents are not in a
particularly forgiving mood toward the North. American analysts
almost uniformly dismissed the likelihood that the maneuver will
achieve anything substantive, let alone represent serious movement
toward denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea.

Which is undoubtedly true, but to be expected. The Olympics has
never been free of politics. Perhaps most infamous was the 1936
Berlin games, which highlighted Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

Also common are boycotts. In 1956 two groups of states refused
to attend the games to protest France’s, Great Britain’s, and
Israel’s invasion of the Suez and the Soviet Union’s invasion of
Hungary. Nearly thirty African nations boycotted the 1976 Montreal
games because New Zealand’s rugby team had toured South Africa,
which then imposed Apartheid. The United States and Soviet Union
traded boycotts in 1980 and 1984, triggered by the invasion of
Afghanistan. None of these efforts achieved much, other than
disappointing athletes who had trained to compete.

Those who have criticized
North Korea’s participation in the upcoming game ignore the obvious
benefits.

In 1988 the Republic of Korea used the games to highlight its
arrival internationally as a prosperous and newly democratic power.
In this Seoul largely succeeded, though the DPRK sought to disrupt
the games, engaging in one of its most notorious acts of terrorism,
bringing down a Korean Airlines flight. That had no impact on the
Olympics, however.

This time Pyongyang has taken a different approach, using the
Olympics to engage the Republic of Korea and promote cheery notions
of national brotherhood and reunification. Whatever happens is
unlikely to have much impact on the current nuclear controversy,
but it will have a positive impact if it strengthens the resolve of
the Moon government to resist the Trump administration’s apparent
plans for war.

Reports that the administration decided not to nominate Victor
Cha as U.S. ambassador to South Korea because he advised against
war suggest that President Donald Trump really may be prepared to
blow up Northeast Asia. Until now, Washington sought to prevent a
recurrence of the Korean War, but the president appears to hope
that Kim Jong-un would trust the United States to leave him alone
after being disarmed. Alas, the fate of Muammar el-Qaddafi is
likely to push Pyongyang to arms. Even if the war was “over
there,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) so inelegantly put it,
the consequences would be horrific and global. Only resolute
opposition from South Korea might be able to block the
president’s apparent plans.

However, the inclusion of the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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