By George Cassidy Payne
I think Americans would be wise not to underestimate the military capability of North Korea. Not only does it possess a nuclear deterrent, it is indoctrinated with a prophetic worldview that claims war with America is inevitable.
North Koreans are being prepared to fight with everything from hand tools to automatic weapons. They are going to fight from cave to cave, hilltop to hilltop, farm to farm, river to river, street to street, and house to house. It has intercontinental missiles that can be fired from mountainous bunkers that are impenetrable. It has giant, standing infantry corps in every major urban center. And it has armed tank corps and a competent air force.
North Korea is also a nation with a proud history. As is evident in the infrastructure and design of the country’s capital, North Koreans take great ownership over their allegiance to the artistic and political vision of the democratic republic.
This is a nation that has been able to remain independent in the shadow of two imperial conquerors in China and Russia. This is a nation that is demanding the obsessive attention of the American president.
Today, the United States has 30,000 service members stationed in the Korean Peninsula. In the past few days, President Trump has deployed the USS Carl Vinson, a 97,000-ton nuclear carrier, to the Sea of Japan. Meanwhile, China has amassed 150,000 soldiers on the Korean-Chinese border. In case there is a refugee crisis, China is willing to drive back the Korean masses with deadly force. Everywhere in the region, the threat of a pre-emptive strike looms.
Trump may be a trigger-happy, belligerent, ignoramus who does not understand the consequences of his actions, and the same can be said about the bellicose, gluttonous and politically vain Kim Jong Un, but why does the world need to sit by and watch this spectacle?
Why does World War III need to happen here? After all, North Korea is a nation that is in the dark. Why not work with China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to help bring them into the light? Why must we all succumb to the darkness together?
North Korea has been a menace. The nation’s track record is dismal in the area of human rights. But the most effective way to engage people living in dictatorships is to show them why liberty and equality are enviable values to pursue over the quasi-spiritual values of emperor worship and Communism.
Rather than a policy of “strategic patience,” cyberattacks, economic pressure and the threat of war, why not try something new and interesting like creative diplomacy?
Why not trade with North Korea? Why not negotiate for peace with North Korea? Why not make North Korea a business partner? Isn’t that what the president is good at? Why do American interests need to inherently conflict with the interests of North Korea?
Who said this must end with thermonuclear disaster when it could begin with a New Deal for both countries?
George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY adjunct professor of humanities and founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International.