The big question for this week is, “Are we watching history being made, or are we being taken for fools?” In other words, will we actually see the end of the seven-decade long Korean War or not? We do not know if North Korea truly wants peace or is just making everyone look like fools. Time alone will give us this answer.
On April 27, 2018, the heads of state from North Korea and South Korea took a historic step towards peace when they issued a joint peace declaration. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in met in the demilitarized zone and each stepped into the other’s country. The joint statement declares that the leaders are ushering in a “new era of peace” that families will be unified and that the peninsula will be free of nuclear weapons and hostile acts. Peace in Korea is long overdue.
War took place in Korea from 1950 until 1953. Even though there was an armistice to end the fighting, the war has never formally ended. The meeting between the two Korean leaders is truly a historical moment. This is the first time in seventy years that a North Korean leader has stepped into South Korea – or vice versa.
Several national voices are calling for Americans to slow-walk the developments. Glenn Beck is calling for caution as he reminds us that North Korea played us for fools once before.
Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, North Korea has held our attention by dangling its nuclear program like a worm on a hook. It even tempted President Clinton in the same way President Trump is being tempted now. Clinton gave in, dropping sanctions and providing humanitarian aid. He even sent Madeline Albright to meet with Kim Jong-Il in the same way Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong-un.
Those negotiations ultimately failed when it was found out that North Korea was continuing their nuclear program in secret. But in the end, they got what they wanted. Clinton dropped sanctions and gave relief. Their nuclear program continued.
North Korea has promised a lot of things lately, but all that is moot until we hear what they want in return. Nothing is free, and I fear that they’re going to ask for more than we’re willing to give. Never forget, North Korea is STILL North Korea. They haven’t changed. They’re still murdering their own people, and more recently Otto Warmbier, from within concentration camps.
Two things are about to happen. Either history will be made, OR the entire world is being set up to be duped – AGAIN – the same way North Korea has been manipulating the world and surviving for the last 70 years. Let’s pray that it’s the former.
Beck obviously does not trust North Korea because of events in the past. Is Trump smarter than Clinton? Beck is not the only one calling for caution. Eli Lake at Bloomberg is also cautioning us to “Beware of the Korean Peace Trap.” He says that everything looks rosy on the surface but declaration needs to be studied intently. He explains why the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula” is concerning to him.
Let’s start with the issue most important to America and North Korea’s neighbors, the nuclear file. The joint communique says, “South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.” It also says the two states “shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard.” Finally it pledged that both would seek help and cooperation from the international community to achieve the goal of denuclearization.
That sounds pretty good, but it isn’t. North Koreans have historically used the phrase “denuclearization” to mean the U.S. should no longer extend its nuclear umbrella to protect South Korea. As former senior State Department official Evans Revere explained in a recent policy brief for the Brookings Institution, North Korean interlocutors have explained the concept in talks to U.S. officials and experts as “the elimination of the `threat’ posed by the U.S.-South Korea alliance, by U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, and by the U.S. nuclear umbrella that defends South Korea and Japan.”
Revere goes on to say that in return for those steps that would undermine the U.S.-South Korean alliance, North Koreans have offered to “`consider denuclearization in 10-20 years’ time if Pyongyang feels `secure.’” Maybe they mean something different this time around. But it’s a red flag that Kim is agreeing to the same phrase that in past discussions has meant something very different than verifiable disarmament….
Lake continues by explaining why he considers some of the language in the agreement to be “strange.” The statement says that both leaders consider a recent announcement by Kim to be `very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.’ He says, “It isn’t.” Lake says that another big problem is “a sickening parity in the statement that equates a vibrant democratic republic with a totalitarian slave state.” He says that it is “dangerous to pretend” that they are equal when there “is only one political party in North Korea and no civil organizations.” He is also troubled by South Korea’s agreement to “stop allowing its citizens to send leaflets over the border to break North Korea’s information monopoly over its citizens.” Lake also warns President Trump to “be careful about next steps.”
He needs to make sure South Korea will not seek a separate peace with its rival. He also needs to get a better sense of the real steps Kim will take to disarm. Until then, Trump should slow the diplomacy down and wait. Kim has shown he is adept at getting optimistic headlines. That is a testament to his connivance, not his intentions.