Tag: North Korea peace

North Korean Sanctions Must Go

By Jadon Buzzard | United States

We often hear of the gruesome tyranny exhibited by the North Korean regime. The citizens of the country are starving as their government continues to siphon every ounce of economic activity into their devious nuclear programs. Liberty in the country is virtually nonexistent, as property rights, freedom of expression, and human life are irreverently swept aside by the horrendous dictator, Kim Jong Un. North Koreans are legitimately suffering, and we ought to recognize that.

Sanctions, however, are not the answer to the ailments of the North Korean economy. We should be careful not to jump to policy decisions too hastily, lest we worsen the problem at hand. Unfortunately, that reaction to North Korea’s nuclear program seems to have been a common element of almost every US administration. Instead of thinking logically about what actions are both morally and pragmatically justifiable, citizens and officials alike often jump to conclusions about how the US must react to this “imminent” threat.

I contend that economic sanctions on the North Korean economy are both morally unjust and pragmatically unsustainable. The degrading effects these sanctions have on the Koreans’ quality of life far outweigh any benefit they provide in changing the North Korean regime. President Trump ought to abandon these practices and promote a more open exchange with the country.

There are a few reasons why the efficacy of sanctions ought to be called into question. But before we dive into those elements of the trade barrier in question, it would be prudent to examine several negative effects of sanctions on a society, both at a pragmatic and at a moral level.

Sanctions often result in a severe undermining of the quality of life of citizens in the targeted society. Trade creates wealth: there’s virtually no doubt about that. Mercantilism, on the other hand, which looks at trade a as a “zero-sum game”, is an outdated and harmful philosophy. Trade happens because of two (or multiple) individuals’ consent, and that consent only happens because both sides benefit. So, on an individual level, trade always benefits each individual that participates. This benefit is conferred even at a societal level. As individual wealth increases, societal wealth with increase. Trade encourages competition and innovation, which in turn enhances quality of life.

You can imagine what happens to the citizens of a nation when trade is restricted. The North Korean people are starving, and it’s because they lack access to high-quality goods. Most nations, including the US, have virtually closed off their borders with the country. This action is justified to many because we want to ensure that Kim Jong Un doesn’t “get richer” so he can make his nuclear weapons. But here’s the problem: a dictator is a dictator no matter how rich the people are. With or without sanctions, the North Korean government will continue to steal resources from its people in order to fund their nefarious activities. Sanctions only hurt the people, forcing them into a position of weakness.

And it goes further than that. By weakening the people of North Korea, sanctions actually make it harder to replace the Kim regime. The people lack the resources necessary for a revolt against their dictatorial leader. Rather than weakening the Kim regime, sanctions just make the North Korean government stronger by weakening its people.

However, there is also an immoral aspect to sanctions as. In essence, trade barriers violate individuals’ natural rights. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that property rights exist, meaning that it is immoral to steal. You own what you work for and trade for, as do I. If you think about it, sanctions run directly contrary to this idea. I decide whom I will trade with and how much I shall trade for, and it’s no one’s business to tell me or anyone else how I should spend my money. Trade barriers, in effect, allow the government to be the sole arbiter of the economy. They get to make the decisions, instead of the citizens who worked for their wealth.

A common counter-argument here involves the shouting of, “Well, under that logic you’d have to get rid of all taxes!” (cue scary music for effect). I agree: at least all federal taxes. It is not the government’s job to tell people how to act in the economy, granted that you refrain from violating another individual’s natural rights. Either way, the idea is fairly simple: either you believe in natural rights, and thus the evils of sanctions, or you do not believe in natural rights and utilize a sort of quasi-utilitarianism rule.

And that’s just the problem. Individuals and governments claim a belief in “rights,” but few really have one. Natural rights theory is inherently a deontological moral paradigm, or if not, a form of rule utilitarianism (which basically says adopt the universal rule that would provide the most happiness). Either way, you can’t accept the right to property in only certain instances. Doing so, of course, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the idea.

Now, even if sanctions somehow weakened the Kim regime (they don’t), citizens still ought to oppose them. Why? They are an unnecessary exertion of government force. The government is arbitrarily using force in order to prevent you from making a simple transaction. That’s similar to a hypothetical situation in which I pulled a gun on you in order to prevent you from buying from a grocer who was “mean to me.” Do I have the moral authority to do such a thing? Of course not! Likewise, the government also lacks this authority in matters of international trade, no matter who is doing the trading.

Overall, there are several major problems with sanctions imposed on the North Korean regime. Trade barriers produce severe inefficiencies in the market, causing the citizens of the targeted nation to grow weak, thereby making them less able to fight back against their oppressors. But equally important are the moral implications that arise when the government interferes in the market. Yes, our gut reaction is to shut down trade with evil regimes.

In spite of this, we must remember that behind that ruthless, dictatorial government, there lies an oppressed group of people, suffering from our actions. All liberty-minded individuals ought to oppose sanctions against North Korea, and should work to foster an open, rational relationship into the future. Such a vision will both remove illegitimate governmental interference and gradually begin to liberate the nation’s suffering.


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Donald Trump Pulls a Ron Paul with North Korea

By CJ Westfall | United States

Libertarians and non-interventionists have been pitching this idea for years. The hermit country of North Korea once again like it does every few years is back at the negotiating table talking peace. Should we believe them this time?

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton addressed this concern this Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation”, Bolton said: “Well, we’ve heard this before. This is – the North Korean propaganda playbook is an infinitely rich resource.”

“What we want to see from them is evidence that it’s real and not just rhetoric,” he added.

We’re all waiting on the edge of our seats for that evidence, and if it comes out there’s already talks of President Trump being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That’d be quite the award for a man who threatened “fire and fury” on the country just a few months ago. He wouldn’t be awarded for that rhetoric of course, he’d be awarded for pulling the roughly 28,500 troops from the region in exchange for North Korea abandoning it’s nuclear program.

The crazy part about this is that Libertarians have been talking about this forever. Ron Paul has been advocating for years that we pull our bases from that region altogether. How crazy is it that President Trump is now the subject of conversation relating to the Nobel Peace Prize because he’s considering a non-interventionist policy.

Some might oppose demilitarizing calling the method an isolationist approach. War hawks and Neo Cons on the left and right will try to keep President Trump from his win and will argue the Kim regime is still dangerous despite any evidence of denuclearization Kim Jong Un might offer. It always seems like there’s someone arguing for more intervention. Military provocation is undoubtedly counter-productive to peace. Some say that’s “isolationist.”

The problem with that is North Korea has already been isolated for years. It is isolationist to impose sanctions, to prohibit Americans from doing business, to impede or forbid travel by US citizens to countries with which the US government disagrees. North Korea is isolated in part because our government has isolated it. North Korea threatens to attack South Korea and the United States partly because South Korea and the United States continue to mount very provocative military exercises on North Korea’s border.

If President Trump wants to rack up the awards throughout his presidency, it sure seems like he should start listening to the Pauls.


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The Olympics and Korean Diplomacy

Andrew Lepore | USA

After a year of escalating tensions, beating war drums, and threats of “fire and fury”, most Americans have little confidence that the situation with North Korea will get better before it gets worse. Many Americans believe the chance for diplomacy on the peninsula is null. In fact, The University of Quinnipiac took a poll, showing 48% of Republicans and 17% of Democrats support a preemptive strike on the country.

Of course, this less than optimistic view about the North Korean Crisis is justifiable. In the last few years, negotiation and communication between Washington and Pyongyang have been virtually non-existent. However, recent revelations show an opportunity for de-escalation and steps toward a peaceful solution.

In a surprising New years announcement, Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea would like to participate in this year’s Winter Olympic Games, which will open in the South Korean Town of Pyeongchang next month. On national television, Kim stated:

“The Winter Olympic Games that will be held soon in the south will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korea nation, and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results.”

He also stated they will “take various steps, including the dispatch of a delegation.” For many, this is a step in the right direction for cooperation between the Koreas. Previously, North Korea has refused to participate in games hosted by South Korea.

Kim’s announcement was welcome news for the current Progressive South Korean administration and its leader, President Moon Jae-in. Prior to his election, Jae-in emphasized greater cooperation and a more stable relationship with North Korea. Following Kim’s New Year’s announcement, President Moon’s re-unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, extended an invitation to a formal meeting between representatives from the two nations to negotiate and discuss Olympic cooperation. It also would emphasize diplomatic ties between the nations.

The meeting commenced on January ninth at the shared border village of Panmunjom, and ended successfully.  After 12 hours of bilateral negotiation, the two warring nations reached several conclusions:

North Korea will send athletes and a high level delegation to participate in the Olympic festivities in February.

The nations agreed to resume temporary reunions of families divided by the war, but “resolve national problems on our own.”

Lastly, both countries agreed to follow up these bilateral negotiations to relieve military tensions on the peninsula.

Indubitably, the conclusions of this meeting were quite optimistic. The two nations achieved successful talks without the help of the U.S or any other outside entity. Better yet, they plan on continuing this trend.

President Trump recently voiced his support for this communication. In a recent announcement, he stated “I’d like to see them getting involved in the Olympics and maybe things go from there, So I’m behind that 100%.” However, others in his administration have not expressed optimism about North Korea’s participation in the games nor the recent bilateral talks between North and South Korea.

General Mattis on the day of the Bi-lateral negotiations stated in reference to the talks; “The sum total of the subjects that are going to be discussed today are the Olympics only.” He also reportedly swore not to let North Korea drive a wedge between the U.S alliance with South Korea. North Korea doesn’t seem to have accomplished that, although they obviously talked about a lot more than the Olympics in that 12 hour conference, judging by the conclusion of the negotiations.

Mattis is not alone in his disapproval. Other top members of President Trump’s cabinet, such as National Security Advisor General H.R McMaster, share this feeling. On January 23rd, McMaster spoke of the scenario in a press interview.

“Everyone recognises that we can’t… fall for what in the past has been a North Korean ploy to create the illusion of success and talks, and to use that to lock in the status quo as the new normal.” -H.R. McMaster

In the weeks following the bilateral negotiations, the two nations took more steps towards unification. For example, the divided Koreas have agreed to march under a single Korean “reunification flag” at the games. They have also formed a joint Korean Women’s Ice Hockey team. The two countries came to these agreements after meeting at the International Olympic Committee headquarters. Despite disapproval from some U.S. and Chinese officials, the two nations plan to publicly display solidarity.

Both governments intend to use the Olympics, which some have dubbed “The Peace Olympics”,  to improve inter-Korean ties. Will this year’s Winter Games be a positive turning point for diplomatic relations on the peninsula? Only time will tell.

(Image courteous of CNN)

North Korea Accepts Peace Negotiation

By Jackson Parker | USA

With the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang officials are meeting at the border of the Koreas to discuss areas of mutual interest. Reopening the shut communication channel for the first time since January of 2016.

“The North has accepted our proposal to meet at Panmunjeom Peace House [Korean Demilitarized Zone] on January 9,”

says South Korean unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-Hyun according to Yonhap News.

“The two sides decided to discuss working-level issues by exchanging documents,”

the meeting will be focused on issues

“related to the improvement of inter-Korean relations, including the PyeongChang Olympic Games.”

In Kim Jong-un’s new year speech to North Korea, he suggests that dialogue of reducing military tension is available. Seoul jumped on the opportunity and initiated the talk between neighbors.

Does anyone really believe that talks and dialouge would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!

President Trump tweets victoriously on Thursday.

After 2 years of silence between the two Koreas, this newfound communication could ease tensions between the North and the South. The PyeongChang Winter Olympics have created a topic for the Koreas to come together and solve their issues to create peace on their peninsula and the rest of the world.