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U.S. should stop threatening North Korea and negotiate

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
It is time for serious negotiations.

The irrational, threatening policies of President Donald Trump and other political and military leaders toward North Korea endanger not only Koreans, but U.S. civilians and military personnel in the region. It is time for serious negotiations. The first step is to stop insisting that North Korea end its nuclear program as a precondition for talks.

Wayne Nealis

Experts writing in a March 2017 publication of the U.S. Army War College characterized this long-held policy and others in frank terms. “Insanity has been described as doing the same thing again and again, while expecting a different result each time. This truism aptly characterizes U.S. dealings with North Korea over the last 7 decades.” Yes, they said, 7 decades.

The article also calls on the U.S. to take steps to normalize relations with North Korea and negotiate a peace treaty to replace the 1953 Armistice, again, without demanding the North end its nuclear program. So long as North Korea is constantly threatened by the U.S., its effort to develop a nuclear deterrent is a rational response. Polls show about 60 percent of Americans support direct talks.

North Korea recently stated it would put is nuclear development program on the negotiating table if “the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.” It seems reasonable to test the seriousness of this offer.

The first step

The first step is to curtail annual war games like those currently being conducted by 70,000 U.S. and South Korean military personnel. Any hope of negotiations were cut off when this year’s exercises began Aug. 21.

Understandably, for Americans, there is perhaps no more confusing and distressing conflict in the world than that with North Korea. With the latest escalation of words and missiles firing, polls show Americans fear a possible world war. After a 67-year conflict, it is long past time for a change in U.S. policy. Threatening military action and leveling more sanctions clearly is not working.

Trump’s dangerous threats are as insane as U.S. policy of the last seven decades. War would kill millions of Koreans on both sides and many U.S. citizens working in South Korea. China has said it would come to the aid of North Korea if the U.S. were to initiate a first strike. The implications of such an action are without parallel.

Confidence-building measures

Some confidence-building measures would be helpful. Since the U.S. holds the overwhelming military power, it is prudent for the U.S. to make such moves. It is long past time for the U.S. to state clearly a military solution is no longer an option.

Experts with the U.S.-based Korea Policy Institute, a leading organization working for peaceful settlement of the conflict, have urged successive U.S. administrations to make such a move. The American people should as well. Our political and military leaders should listen.

Wayne Nealis, of Minneapolis, is a writer and long-time peace and justice activist.


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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/06/2017 - 10:38 am.


    Charlie Rose had a bunch of guys on last night trying to discuss N. Korea and the only thing that is crystal clear is that our attempts to “deal” with the situation are completely disconnected from reality. N. Korea IS a nuclear power. N. Korea HAS the missiles it needs to deliver nuclear warheads. This is a done deal, stick a fork in it. Yet American policy makers and analysts are still talking about somehow denying or simply refusing to recognize N. Korea as a nuclear power, THAT’S crazy. After 7 decades of screwing around it’s finally too late.

    The US discussion is still organized around the bizarre notion that no one “understands” why N. Korea wants to have nuclear weapons, when in fact the rationale is obvious and always has been. Now we have a President who so completely and totally in over his head and incapable of complex intellectual thinking and the whole thing has simply collapsed. So these guy on Charlie Rose were saying we need a complex and nuanced approach that unites our allies in the region and brings China on as a partner… sure, but THAT ain’t gonna happen. We have Trump spouting off twitter attacks on our allies (apparently EVERYONE on the planet is our enemy EXCEPT Putin and the Russians). Tillerson is out there telling people that Trump speaks for himself while the State Department speaks for the Nation… which is possibly the most bizarre thing any SOS has ever said out loud. Problem is people listen to POTUS, not Tillerson, so he can “promote” diplomacy all he wants but as long as long as Trump is talking about ending trade deals with allies and reigning fire and destruction down upon N. Korea diplomacy ain’t gonna happen.

    So the deal maker’s going to talk to the Chinese… don’t get your hopes up. Trump isn’t a “deal maker” his scam artist, and since what need here is an actual deal far beyond the complexity or scale of any real estate scam Trump has ever worked on… we’re simply SOL.

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