Tag: North Korea War

An Unprecedented Peace Summit With High Ratings. Now What?

By Craig Axford | United States

To give you some idea just how much of a priority the Korean Peninsula really is to the Trump administration, it just got around to nominating an ambassador to South Korea on May 23rd, about three weeks before Trump’s unprecedented peace summit with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. In fact, as of May 25th only 84 of the 188 career and political ambassadorship positions the president is empowered to fill had either ambassadors or nominees according to the American Foreign Service Association.

While talks between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will undoubtedly help to thaw tensions for a time, peace takes more than a handshake. Frankly, neither North Korea’s leader or President Trump is all that interested in true peace. They were meeting in Southeast Asia for a photo op each desperately wanted for their respective domestic audiences and little more.

As President Obama could have told Trump, and perhaps even did but he just wasn’t listening, negotiating a nuclear deal involves years of planning and effort. This president doesn’t do that. His neglect of the State Department leaves him with a less than adequate team to work out such details. Meanwhile, John Bolton, the president’s National Security Advisor and a well-known hawk, is standing in the wings looking for the first opportunity to blow the whole effort up should it start getting off the ground.

It doesn’t take a psychic to predict what the future is likely to look like here. Trump will come home thumping his chest having “accomplished what no president has before,” a meeting with a North Korean leader. He’ll never mention and his base won’t care that the reason such a meeting has never taken place is past presidents wanted the North Koreans to change at least a few facts on the ground in exchange for such a meeting.

Trump was willing to give the North Koreans an unconditional meeting so he could have his place in history. The foreign policy implications of the meeting never even entered his mind. We should be expecting a tweet regarding the ratings for the peace summit at any moment.

Having provided the world’s worst regime a greater measure of legitimacy and achieved his place in history books, tensions should remain low for a while. Neither government has any real incentive to invest much political capital in working out anything like complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID). The statement coming out of this meeting is certainly a far cry from that.

But even if CVID did get worked out, there remains the problem of the tens of thousands of long-range artillery sitting just north of the DMZ aimed at Seoul. True peace would require their removal as well. Both the media and the public ought to know better than to think any of this could have been worked out in a 35 minute face-to-face meeting between two leaders with a reputation for bluster.

Everyone agrees that the worst possible outcome here is conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Such an eventuality would be very unlikely to remain isolated to the two Koreas and could very quickly escalate to the use of nuclear weapons. Should such an event occur, Donald Trump’s name will replace Neville Chamberlain’s as our best example of an appeaser.

But Neville Chamberlain’s primary sin was naivete. He, at least, was motivated by a desire for peace even if he should have known a man like Hitler wasn’t really all that interested. Trump is inexperienced to be sure, but it’s narcissism that’s his Achilles heel. If diplomacy mattered at all to him he would have appointed someone other than Rex Tillerson to be his first secretary of state, or at least would have instructed him to make filling key positions in the State Department a top priority.

The best we can hope for now is a slightly more tolerant status quo than we witnessed during the first few months of Trump’s tumultuous presidency. Fortunately, that’s also far more likely than war. The North Koreans will still have their guns pointed squarely at downtown Seoul and will still have at least as many nukes as they have now on inauguration day in January 2021.

Even before the handshake, Trump’s ad hoc foreign policy had led Russia and China to ease the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, and that will probably continue without much opposition from Washington unless Trump sees some political advantage to making an issue out of it. In other words, the Singapore summit was just another episode in Trump’s reality TV presidency.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source.

Advertisements

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.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source.

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.


Featured Image Source.

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.

What Should the U.S. do About North Korea?

By Michael Kay | USA

After the president’s tweets about North Korea on January 2nd, there has been much controversy as to how the president should handle the issue. Many believe that the provocative tweets may be an attempt to intimidate or outmaneuver Kim Jong Un, while others believe that it may simply be a president who has lost his mind. This article will ignore the latest set of tweets (and the potential political harms or gains that might follow as a result) and will analyze the two main courses that the United State’s foreign policy objective might follow.

The first potential course of action is, of course, a standoff. Should Kim Jong Un continue to oppose the United States and their interests, and threaten allies such as South Korea and Japan, it would only make sense for America to confront NK and this could prompt the war. The preamble to such an event would be simply following the current course that we are set upon. There may be hope in the prospect of NK going to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which could potentially lead to improved relations, but short of that, it seems as though Trump plans to isolate the dictator and play potentially the deadliest waiting game in the past decade.

The second (and hopefully more likely) option is to legitimize Kim Jong Un. What’s important to understand about many isolated, demonized dictators, is that one of their main objectives is for the world to recognize them, to legitimize them. We see this in cases such as with Vladimir Putin, with the Ukraine crisis, in which President Obama chose to start by imposing strict sanctions, then proceeding down the logical diplomatic path of establishing meetings with Putin, and gradually increasing sanctions. There was no effect whatsoever because dictators aren’t the ones directly hurt by economic sanctions. The greatest harm you might do to the dictator himself is to destabilize the entire country by causing starvation and unrest. Not only is this incredibly inhumane, it is also highly inefficient as it can take a very long time (for people to really turn on the dictator), and you run the risk that the dictator will simply ignore his people. However, after attempting this method for some time, the Obama administration decided to change its tactic. It proceeded to remove Russia from the G8 and to maintain the sanctions. Within a fairly short period of time, Russia agreed to come to the negotiating table, and agree to a ceasefire (during negotiations). The reason that this strategy was more successful is that rather than attempting to challenge the country on a whole, it challenged Putin’s legitimacy as a leader, by removing him from a body which signifies economic greatness.

The same logic can be used when examining some of Kim Jong Un’s decisions. For example, the constant nuclear tests serve a dual purpose. First, they threaten potential enemies which can be looked at as a system of preemptive deterrence. Second (and potentially more relevantly), they aim to prove that Kim Jong Un is powerful, and a “real” leader. However, we’ve already ostracized North Korea, so the strategy that may be required would be somewhat different, in that it would have to be a carrot on a stick approach. The US could offer North Korea a spot at the Olympics (of course the rest of the global community would have to agree), in exchange for a small concession, for example, the signing of an official end to the Korean War. This may seem meaningless, but its significance is that it means that the US would stop sending troops, and weapons to the Korean Peninsula. This, in turn, would make Kim Jong Un feel somewhat safer and would reduce the need for a nuclear deterrent, meaning the stoppage (or at least reduction in frequency) of the nuclear tests. Afterwards, the US could trade a stop at the WTO, development aid, or a trade agreement for further concessions such as an agreement to refrain from weaponizing Uranium. If Kim Jong Un feels as though he has a seat at the table, he is less likely to try and blow the table up. Giving Kim Jong Un the illusion of a spot at the table isn’t all that difficult, or costly, as the vast majority of the concessions that would be made by the US would be political ones, rather than monetary.

The current US strategy to counter North Korea is highly ineffective and very dangerous. Trump should change the tactic to one in which North Korea would eventually become assimilated into the global community. It will be an uphill battle, and a very dangerous one, but the alternative is far more dangerous, with no potential for a “happy” ending.