Friday, April 5, 2013

North Korea: It Takes 2 To Tango

One person can dance alone, but it takes two to tango.  And tango we are, with North Korea vying for control of the dance with the U.S..

Whether you watch the news, read the local newspaper, or scan news article online, I'm certain you've read about the escalating situation between North Korea and the United States.  But I ask you to read between the lines when you look at this conflict.  U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that North Korea's rhetoric is "probably all bluster", and that attacking the U.S. would signal the end of North Korea. [From Reuters]

If the U.S. is so much stronger than North Korea, then why keep antagonizing the Asian country?  Why escalate the situation unless the U.S. wants another war?

The U.S. didn't have to hold military exercises in South Korea last month, using stealth bombers.  The U.S. doesn't have to move missiles to Guam.  And the U.S. can just shut up and stop making statements about North Korea.  In fact, that might be the fastest way to stop the rhetoric.  But the U.S. is choosing to escalate the situation, avoiding the high moral ground and going for the low ground with hostility and belittlement in their posturing.

If the U.S. wants to make the world a better place, why not talk to the Saudi Arabian government about not paralyzing a 24-year-old man for a crime he did 10 years ago?   Why doesn't the government close Guantanamo prison?  More importantly, why doesn't the U.S. learn from its own mistakes?

Back in 1983, Reagan and his rhetoric about the Soviets, calling them "the Evil Empire",  led to an escalation in the Cold War, an escalation that included a series of military maneuvers in Europe that "employed sophisticated concealment and deception measures to thwart Soviet early warning systems and to offset the Soviets' ability--greatly bolstered by US spy John Walker--to read US naval communications."[The CIA Library]  Between the talk and the military activities, the Soviets believed that the U.S. was about to launch a surprise nuclear missile attack, and they almost attacked first.

Now, U.S. officials seem intent to make the same mistakes in a very similar situation, supposedly acting for the good of all while pushing North Korea towards war.  North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, already leads from a shaky position; if he loses faces publicly, he will be assassinated, or otherwise deposed.  If we treated him with respect and let him win a few rounds of rhetorical exchanges, we have a chance to defuse the situation without bloodshed.  But as long as the U.S. continues with its rhetoric, peace doesn't have a chance.

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