Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Peace in Korea: A Modest Proposal

Trump threatens to destroy North Korea.  Kim Jon-un threatens to nuke US cities.

Maybe something good will come out of this.   

But first, a caveat about blundering brinksmanship.  It is dangerous.  A misinterpreted thundercloud, or meteorite, off-course airliner, or misunderstood tweet could get millions of people killed.  This could go very bad very quickly.

Pho and Pepsi:  Vietnam today.
The Vietnam Analogy.   This August I observed Vietnam at peace. It was a united Vietnam, free from big power influence, one where there were small businesses flourishing under the rules of commerce and capitalism.  Busy people doing business, living their lives.

The Vietnam War Memorial Museum tells the story of a brave people who suffered under the French, then the US, to control their country.  They endured, paid a huge price, then won independence: North and South reunited back into what they always were, a single free people.  

A free happy Vietnam was our supposed war aim.  We achieved it by losing and leaving.    

Meanwhile, Korea.   Korea is divided between north and south, and has been for 70 years. The Korean Peninsula has people with common language, ethnicity, and identity.  We consider South Korea "one of ours", a cold war ally.  We say we protect them from communist aggression, North Korea and China.   

Meanwhile, Trump.  Trump threatens war with North Korea, and calls Kim Jon-un names.  He taunts.  He insults.  The people of South Korea understand one thing perfectly well: American citizens do not care about the lives of Koreans.  We care about our troops stationed there, but if ten million people of South Korea die in a war Americans would happily and casually trade them to save one American aircraft carrier or one American city of a thousand people on our mainland.  

We aren't just an unreliable ally.  We are a dangerous one.  

Trump's war talk is bringing the exact opposite of American policy desires.  South Korean president Moon Jei-in recognizes the peril in his relationship with the US.  His American ally is a protector--but also an existential threat to them.

North Korean Kim Jon-un is moving to take advantage, suggesting direct talks with South Korea.  Oops. Not what Trump wanted.

But maybe this isn't so bad.  Maybe the US-South Korean alliance was an idea whose time has long past.The problem on that peninsula may not be North Korea; it may be us.  We are in a love triangle and the odd person needs to leave.  Let the two Koreas work out some kind of re-unificaiton plan.  

Click Here for the NY Times article
American's might think, "But what if a totalitarian strong man-monarch comes out as dominant, and a united Korea is a strong mercantile country with the resources to create a significant military, and has nuclear weapons?"   The response is that they already have nuclear weapons, and that the USA is already familiar with un-democratic states that have them, including Russia and Pakistan.  A united Korea will have a more modern prosperous society with more to lose in a nuclear exchange than the current impoverished military state that is now North Korea.  

The world will be safer.  The US will be safer.  Both South and North Korea will be safer.

The modest proposal, in summary: 

Take advantage of Trump's blustery "rocket man" talk to scare South Korea into recognizing their future is not with the US, but with their fellow-Koreans to the north.  

We know what to do.  We need to lose and leave.

Let Korea become another Vietnam.  

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