Rebooting Peace in the Korean Peninsula?

By Syed Qamar Rizvi.


Today, Washington seems more prone to reckoning the resonance of realism than idealism in the Korean peninsula as reflected by the tune and diplomatic postures of the Trump’s administration regarding the US-North Korea nuclear rift. There seems an escalation of war rhetoric from both North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and USA’s Donald Trump. There is some sympathy with the view that North Korea is only building nuclear capability because there has been a near constant threat from the USA that war could break out at any time.

The most recent explosion of Hydrogen bomb/ ballistic missiles are extremely worrying and there is considerable anxiety that it will take just one foolish statement/gesture to escalate things completely out of hand—dragging the whole peninsula into the horrors of war. But a real peace move can only be successful when two sides-the US and N Korea adopt the restraint policies in terms of US’S adopted approach towards imperialism and the North Koreans’ adopted gravity towards ultra-nationalism.

The Korean peninsula has been the vortex of politics and war for much of the 20th century and while the start of the 21st century yet puts both the Koreans from North and South under the growing shambles of insecurity and confusion. World War II ended with its division, and today the divided Korea continues to attract the attention of Pacific countries.

Isolated and alienated by ideology and the collapse of world communism, North Korea presents a new problem to the post-Cold War international order, with its determination to develop nuclear weapons, and to maintain a large standing army threatening South Korea. It is further hobbled by a malnourished population in a declining economy. Deserted by allies and isolated by the economic success of her neighbors, North Korea is ruled by basically the same regime since before the Korean war – under the son of the former ruler.

International organisations, alliances and nation states have attempted to address these issues in a manner that ties some or all of these problems together, seeking an integrated solution. Since 2003, the Six Party Talks on denuclearisation have been the centrepiece of interaction with North Korea, and thus have tied international engagement to the nuclear issue. Following the DPRK’s withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 2003, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the US have sporadically negotiated with the DPRK, but there has been little progress. International attempts to address hunger, especially those involving the US and South Korea, are held contingent on progress in ending North Korean nuclear ambitions. Efforts to replace the 64-year-old armistice flounder as the DPRK refuses to abandon its nuclear programmes in return.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, illustrated this transactional approach by stating, “we have to see some sort of positive action by North Korea before we can take them seriously”, after a Security Council meeting in New York on the escalating Korea crisis. That is a reasonable, but intrinsically flawed, approach. History tells us that this integrated approach will not work when dealing with North Korea. What is needed is a comprehensive, federated strategy which addresses the various threads independently to establish a lasting peace on the peninsula.

Transactional diplomacy that binds any progress in other areas to North Korean willingness to relinquish its nuclear programme stymies progress in all areas. There is no evidence indicating that the DPRK is ready to do that in the near term, if ever given the chance to reestablish the course of muliteral diplomacy. This is the ideology brief of the mind- set presently working in the White House under the presidentship of Donald Trump.

The US military has a huge presence in the area around North Korea, particularly in Japan and increasingly close allies South Korea. There are almost 40,000 US troops serving in Japan, more than in any other country, and earlier this year the US Air Force lined up a huge array of helicopters, tactical fighter jets and surveillance aircraft in a show of force aimed to intimidate Kim Jong-un.

The White House and the US state department policy mangers yet advocate the point despite shared ethnicity and history, the creation of a single Korea must be held in abeyance for the foreseeable future. North and South have evolved in opposite directions, and are more different than they are similar. The struggles of defectors and refugees from the DPRK to integrate into 8 modern societies in the ROK and elsewhere provide a glimpse of the extraordinary difficulty of merging the two Korean populations. These suggestions are not offered with naiveté. Some will fail, and none will, in their own right, deliver real progress. All will be viewed suspiciously by North Korea, and the government will attempt to twist words, deeds, and outcomes to support its fundamental premise. It would, however, be insane to expect the long-standing, interwoven and failed approach to peace to succeed. This is a moment of as much opportunity as there is risk, and an imaginative, federated approach to the issues on the Korean Peninsula is needed to seize this opportunity to change a very dangerous paradigm.

“Without holding the key to the DPRK’s security concerns, China has no leverage to convince this foreign nation to stop its nuclear program,” Fu Ying, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s legislature, wrote in a May paper for the Brookings Institution, using the initials for North Korea’s formal name.

“The U.S., which the DPRK sees as the source of threats to its security, has been neither interested nor willing to consider responding to the DPRK’s security concerns,” Fu said. The only way Kim may stop, the thinking goes, is for the U.S. to offer him a security guarantee, such as signing a legally binding non-aggression treaty. But former U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill says the U.S. is concerned that, even with a treaty, the regime can’t be trusted not to use its weapons to attack a U.S. ally such as South Korea. Putin’s core point is that the central strategy of US policy under Trump, Obama, and Bush — attempting to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear program — has now conclusively failed. North Korea now believes that its nuclear arsenal is its best deterrent against an American invasion, and hence will not give it up no matter how much the United States tries to push them.

“They see nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction as the only way for them to protect themselves,” the Russian president said during the Thursday presser, held at an economic forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

Whereas those who yet strive for a peaceful recourse of this crisis advocate that, US policy must be privy of peace, pragmatism. They urge the American exigency of committing  to take actions to: a) Work with   other governments to mandate the United Nations Security Council to initiate new efforts for peace-building across the Korean Peninsula and to lift the existing economic and financial sanctions imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; b) Embark upon a universal campaign for a Peace Treaty to replace the Armistice Agreement of 1953, bringing an end to the state of war; c) Call upon all foreign powers in the region to participate in a creative process for building peace on the Korean peninsula by halting all military exercises on the Korean peninsula, by ceasing their interventions and reducing military expenditures; d) Ensure the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons and power plants in -North East Asia, by taking steps to establish a Nuclear-Free World and simultaneously joining the emerging international consensus for a humanitarian ban on nuclear weapons in all regions of the world, so that life is no longer threatened by nuclear dangers anywhere on earth; e) Urge the governments in both North and South Korea to restore human community with justice and human dignity by overcoming injustice and confrontation, and to heal human community by urgently addressing the humanitarian issue of separated families, by establishing a sustainable process allowing confirmation of the whereabouts of family members and free exchanges of letters and visits, and by offering the support of international agencies where necessary; and f) Work with the governments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea in providing international cooperation to maintain a truly Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and transform it into a zone of peace.

President Donald Trump warned recently that the United States would no longer tolerate North Korea’s actions but said the use of military force against Pyongyang will not be his “first choice.”

His comment appeared to be in line with classified briefings to Congress in which Trump’s top national security aides – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence – stressed the search for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, lawmakers said. Nonetheless, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel and Switzerland’s president Doris Leuthand    have offered their respective roles towards promoting peaceful diplomacy to end this chronic nuclear dispute between Pyongyang and Washington. Both sides– US and the N Korea– need to refrain from their policies: the former’s fostered policy of imperialist pursuits, and latter’s adopted policy of ultra-nationalism.

Despite the American argued reservations over the reunification plan, the best way to reboot and reorient an effort for a lasting peace in the Korean peninsula, Washington has to give the space for a reunification plan. It is highly expedient that a fifty years old policy of antagonism, imperialism and unilateralism must now be gradually be replacing with a forward looking approach-an approach cherished by diplomacy of multilateralism, objective internationalism, humanitarianism and negative consequentialism.…/peace…korean-peninsula/…/PIC%2002_3%20ADOPT

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