North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, whose actual title is Chairman of the Worker’s Part of Korea and Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, continues to threaten war with the United States and our allies. Despite all efforts from many world leaders and the United Nations, Kim continues to test one missile after another.
The latest missile test was a huge advancement in North Korea’s military program. It was a test of a new rocket engine that was an improvement over the other rocket engines that were failing more often than not. Many experts believe that with the newer rocket engine that North Korea, with a few more tests, could have a missile capable of reaching the west coast of the United States.
Mike Elleman, Senior Fellow of Missile Defense at the Institute for International Strategic Studies, told Business Insider:
“If that’s indeed the case, and I have no reason to believe it’s not, an intercontinental ballistic missile test could happen this year.”
When President Trump recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he tried to persuade the Chinese leader to use his strong economic influence over North Korea to stop or scale down their nuclear program. North Korea relies a great deal on their trade with China, so China should have a strong influence over their renegade neighbor. However, after boasting about executing a dozen CIA agents over the past seven years, it doesn’t seem likely that China will use their influence to persuade Kim to stop his aggression.
Yet, there is a way that President Trump could stop North Korea’s nuclear program with a simple solution that’s not as simple as it may sound.
Ever since the Korean War in the early 1950s, North Korean leaders have hated America and sees everything we do as acts of aggression towards them. For many years since the Korean War, the United States has conducted military drills with South Korea. Kim sees those drills as a direct threat against his desire to control the entire Korean peninsula. Each year, the joint military drills grow larger in personnel, weapons and overall scale and each year, those drills make Kim more and more nervous and angry. As long as the US continues to conduct the joint drills with South Korea, Kim will react more aggressively.
Chinese diplomats have told the United States that North Korean officials are willing to curb their nuclear program if only the US would stop conducting the joint military drills with South Korea. That sounds like a simple solution, if only it were.
One reason is that many feel what the North Koreans are trying to do is blackmail the United States into abandoning our ally South Korea. If we caved into their demands, every other hostile nation would find a way to blackmail us into caving in to all of their demands, also, and that’s something we dare not do.
A second reason for not giving in to North Korea’s demand is international law. Mark Toner, Acting State Department Spokesman stated:
“What we’re doing in terms of our defense cooperation with South Korea is in no way comparable to the blatant disregard that North Korea has shown with respect to international law and international concerns repeatedly about its nuclear weapons program.”
In other words, what North Korea is doing with their nuclear testing is not legal and what the US is doing with our joint military drills with South Korea is legal.
Yun Sun, Senior Associate at the Simson Center stated:
“This is a matter of principles, and should we be blackmailed out of it?”
Sun went on to point out that if the US did stop their legal military drills with South Korea just to appease Kim:
“What if tomorrow North Korea says we don’t like South Korea’s political system, or we don’t like the Republic of Korea-US military alliance?”
“It’s a matter of whether you want to create a precedent where North Korea can blackmail us to stop doing what we believe is right. If the US is seen as being blackmailed by a rogue state out of something we’ve been doing for decades, it will create questions, and once that cycle starts there’s no end to it.”
So, there you have it. President Trump can take action to halt the joint military drills to get Kim to stop his nuclear escalation, but that solution would be like opening the lid to a bottle of highly infectious airborne virus on a windy day. It would lead to untold dangers and worldwide devastation. As stated earlier, the solution may sound simple, but it’s not nearly as simple as it first sounds.