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Trump's Remarkable Diplomatic Efforts in North Korea

April 15, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Negotiations between the United States and North Korea appear to
be on life support. President Donald Trump’s talk of another summit
led the North’s Kim Jong-un to condition such a meeting on
Washington’s willingness to loosen sanctions.

Yet official Washington earlier greeted President Donald Trump’s
explanation for cancelling another round of proposed sanctions on
North Korea with guffaws. However silly it is for him to say he
“likes” the North’s Kim Jong-un, the president apparently
understands that diplomacy is better than war and American
escalation is likely to trigger North Korean retaliation. That
would be in no one’s interest.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea long has been a
difficult actor. Yet over the last year there have been no violent
attacks, no missile or nuclear tests, no threats of annihilation
and destruction, and even few insults. That obviously is a major
improvement. And it suggests the possibility of the DPRK evolving
from a heavily-armed, aggressive, and threatening state to a still
heavily-armed, but mostly satiated, even vaguely responsible
state.

Obviously, the North’s history suggests skepticism when
assessing any apparent change in Pyongyang. Nevertheless, Kim
appears different than his father and grandfather — no
liberal, but nevertheless more interested in economic growth and
diplomatic engagement. Moreover, he may have decided that the best
strategy to deter an American attack is to appear nonthreatening
and reasonable.

Ultimately, such a transformation may be more important for the
United States and especially for South Korea than denuclearization.
Washington policymakers do not fear France, Israel, or the United
Kingdom because they possess nuclear weapons — nor India or
even Pakistan, since their nukes are not aimed at America.

Denuclearization remains
a worthy and potentially obtainable objective, but other diplomatic
efforts that have fruitful should not be overlooked.

The end of the Cold War reduced the potential for a nuclear
holocaust because the militarized ideological rivalry with the
Soviet Union, which Ronald Reagan famously called an “evil empire,”
disappeared — not because Moscow abandoned its nuclear
weapons. The People’s Republic of China also possesses nuclear
weapons, but few Americans imagine themselves being targeted by
Beijing, which suggests that genuine reconciliation —
admittedly hard to assure — could deliver both stability and
peace to the Korean peninsula.

There is another reason to pursue diplomacy so long as there is
any chance of success. The Trump administration’s “maximum
pressure” campaign has hurt the DPRK economy and state. However,
North Korean officials insist that the regime will not capitulate,
and history gives their claim credibility. In the late 1990s a half
million or more people died of starvation; neither regime nor
policy changed as a result. Additional U.S. sanctions are unlikely
to force …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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