President Trump voiced his love for Kim Jong Un over the weekend. While some wags enjoyed jokes at his expense following the revelation, it serves to remind of the continued normalization of North Korea.
This is a grievous error in foreign policy, on the level of declaring ISIS a “jv team” unworthy of attention.
North Korea isn’t merely another “country with nukes”. They are a terrorism-linked regime with a recent history of test-firing missiles over U.S. Allies and a long history of human rights abuses, including kidnapping citizens from nearby countries and enslaving them for use as educational tools and breeding stock for North Korean spy agencies.
It may be tempting to chalk up their threats as equivalent to those of Trump, with one suggesting that Guam may be attacked and the other insisting that his nuke button was bigger. The threats may have a similarity, but the relative histories are not.
No matter how poorly anyone may think of President Trump, he has not methodically slaughtered members of his family, including sending an assassin to kill his brother on foreign soil.
North Korea is saying they will not denuclearize without significant concessions from the U.S., and that denuclearization will not be allowed to be a prerequisite to ending the war between North and South Korea.
If the war is ended and relations normalized between the two nations, the sanctions on North Korea immediately become meaningless. We have recently resumed a free trade agreement with South Korea, and a porous border between the two nations… much less the actual unification sometimes discussed… will keep sanctions from having any effect.
It is America’s job to encourage South Korea to keep pressure on North Korea and not give them everything they want – an inroad into the wealth of the South, respect on the world stage and an end to the threat of conflict with the South. With Trump professing his love for Kim and the cessation of joint military operations between the US and South Korea, I have serious doubts he is willing to exert that pressure.
There is a view pervading American politics that suggests history and experience do not matter, that what happened mere days or weeks – sometimes hours – ago can be ignored in favor of statements made in the moment. That is a terribly unwise position to take when dealing with North Korea.