To Deal With The North Korea Crisis, We Need To Radically Rethink Our Approach To Foreign Affairs

Kim Jong-Un

Whilst North Korea could not beat the USA or its allies in a war, it could do a lot of damage in a very short space of time just with conventional weapons to South Korea if forced into attacking, let alone if it had access to a nuke. And, as it continues to test its weaponry, there is an increasing possibility of an accident causing a thousands of deaths and causing a deadly conflict in which millions die. Hence, we need to treat North Korea seriously so as to prevent it from escalating towards a war or gaining access to nuclear weapons. This means either coming towards some sort of agreement with the North Korean regime or deposing them.

Regime change wars are a terrible idea. Look at Iraq: it’s smaller, it had less access to less powerful weaponry, and it was not in a position to directly threaten the US’s allies immediately after becoming the target of a regime change war. Millions of innocent Iraqis died as well as thousands of American soldiers. And it has already cost the US over $2 Trillion. A war with North Korea would cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars. So let’s take a hot war with North Korea off of the table.

The Korean War began in 1950 and resulted in a military stalemate in 1953. North Korea still sees the USA as its enemy and the war ended without one side being victorious over the other. The US committed atrocities against the North Korean people during the war, and, whilst the North Korean regime is despotic, the hate for the US is not just manufactured by the regime.

“The hate, though,” as longtime North Korea watcher Blaine Harden observed in the Washington Post, “is not all manufactured.” Some of it, he wrote, “is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets.” — from The Intercept

As neither side is both willing and able to annihilate the other side militarily, then either both sides must agree a truce or one side can concede.

All that the North Korean regime wants is the perpetuation of their regime. To do that, they either must continue their cold war against the USA, or in concluding the war against the USA, extract concessions from the USA, making their regime look strong and make the USA look weak.

So the USA must do just that: they should, in some sense, concede to North Korea. They should offer an apology and reparations for the Korean War. And the North Koreans need to be able to trust the USA at their word. The USA upholding its end of the Iran Deal would be incredibly useful to this end. And it needs to believe that if it did give up its Nuclear weapons that the USA would not then support those looking to overthrow the regime at a later date, as the USA did in Libya. The gaining of this trust is not easy and highlights the difficulties in dealing with the North Korean situations. It requires that the USA fundamentally changes the way it conducts foreign policy: it needs to, in the years to come, uphold its own end of every deal that it makes and it needs to avoid playing even a supporting role in the overthrowing of governments. Whilst the USA has some tools, such as sanctions, with which to pressure North Korea, if it cannot give the North Korean regime reason to trust it, or if the USA’s leaders lack the humility to offer concessions, then there is little real possibility of eliminating the military threat of North Korea. But, it is not intractible. Given leaders of the USA serious about changing the nature of US foreign policy in this way, and time, we may yet have a safer world.