North Korea? No Worries

Peace movements and human rights organizations have voiced their opposition to the administration’s recent reaction to the threats voiced by Kim Jong-un, several leaders from the Democratic Party have also questioned Trump’s bellicose stance, and some main stream Republicans have done so as well. This has turned the North Korean issue into another opportunity for the anti-Trump movement to attack his presidency, capitalizing on a very dangerous foreign policy issue to advance their own political agenda. These political actors continue to advocate for peace, social justice, and the power of diplomacy over war, forgetting that their economic comfort, liberties, individuality, and democratic freedom were the result of our long history of military interventions across the world. I personally prefer peace to war and rely on diplomacy to settle conflict but when it comes to foreign policy I am more of a realist, and I am aware that my privileges and freedoms are greatly dependent on the position of power enjoyed by the United States. It is hypocritical to demand a position of diplomacy when Kim Jong-un escalates the threat of nuclear war in the Pacific, and to accuse President Trump of irrationality while at the same time knowing well that their capitalist comforts are preserved and protected thanks to the same political stance that they are criticizing.

Earlier last week political activists were commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that cost the lives of 200,000 Japanese civilians, using it as an opportunity to advance their anti-Trump agenda. I wonder what would have been their solution back then? Would their solution to Japanese imperialism have been diplomacy and peaceful negotiations? Would they have opted to bow their heads and accept their subjugation? Would they have gracefully accepted the dismantling of western power and their capitalist privileges? It was not OK to use atomic power to settle the Japanese conflict in the Pacific but it was OK to use all other weapons of war to punish the Germans in Europe. If peace and human rights advocates were honest and sincere then they would oppose all acts of war and violence, yet they continue to be selective and strategic.[1]  

I have always wondered whether or not they would be willing to give up their freedom, their material wealth, their capitalist privileges (which they highly criticize and yet enjoy), their property rights, their pensions, and their security. I wonder if they have ever taken a step back and reflect on the fact that millions of Americans have died in order to protect their privileges and comfort. The use of force to protect our national interests and our position of power across the world secures their life styles in the United States. It is very hard to accept, but it is thanks to our imperialist policies of the twentieth century that we and the rest of the western world enjoys a life of privilege.

If they are so committed to peace then why did they not attack the numerous Democratic administrations that carried out violence and human right abuses throughout the Cold War era? I do not remember them calling out President Kennedy for his Latin American policy, President Carter for his Middle East policy, President Clinton for the intensification of the Drug War in Colombia that left thousands of people dead or President Obama’s escalation of the use of drones across the world. I never heard them refer to these leaders as “irrational” and bellicose. It is hypocritical to strategically define the conservatives as violent and aggressive while covering up the aggression of democrats with positivist propaganda.

If Hillary Clinton would have been president and forced to face the current North Korean threats I guarantee that her own “tough” reaction would have been praised as valiant and firm. Media would have praised her “strong will” and her commitment to international security. And if she had convinced the Chinese and Russian governments to change their position toward North Korea then she would have been praised for her diplomatic ability and her capacity to negotiate effectively within the international system. Unfortunately it is not her who is making the decisions on the North Korean threat but President Trump and that changes the discourse.

The anti-Trump circus in Washington and the peace and human rights advocates that are voicing their opposition against this administration’s handling of the North Korean threat are not thinking about national interests or even the interests of the international community, but are again thinking about their own personal interests. If Kim Jong-un decides to play his nuclear card, and I hope he does not, then the anti-Trump movement must change their position and begin to worry about the impact that this would have on the international system. At that point every nation would have to rally behind the United States because there would be no other nation willing to step to the plate and sacrifice the lives of their soldiers for the sake of the international system.

Lets be clear; every administration since the Korean War has opted to “pass the buck” and the same may be said about the whole international community and the United Nations. North Korea has enjoyed the freedom to advance their nuclear program for more then fifty hears without any consequences because the geopolitical dynamics of the Cold War and the post-Cold War permitted it. More recently the Obama administration allowed the North Korean issue to escalate even further because it was politically hot and he did not want the issue to interfere with his re-election and then the Hillary campaign. Domestic policy and geopolitics have impeded the United States and the international community from acting responsibly on the North Korean issue.

The North Korean problem had and will have to be faced at one point or another in our history. At some point in time North Korea will be forced to act on their threat, the agony of atomic war may not be prolonged forever. The international community will have to make a choice on the issue and decide whether or not atomic war will demand and equal response. We cannot be in denial that as the super power of the world, it is in our hands to make this decision. If history has placed this in the hands of President Trump then be it. Let us be honest and sincere; our privileges are once again at threat under Kim Jong-un. Lets leave behind for once our political biases when it comes to foreign policy.[2]

[1] The events that took place in Virginia point at the same double standard. I agree that the white supremacists should be reprimanded for their violent acts but so should the counter protesters.

[2] Now, when it comes to domestic policy that is a different story. The violent incidents that took place in Virginia this Saturday remind us that the president’s bellicose rhetoric might be effective when dealing with international threats but counterproductive when dealing with domestic extremist groups. His calibrated response to the violent acts of the white supremacist groups might lead to an internal conflict that might escalate conflict within our own territory as racist groups find agency and legitimacy in the president’s response, and the opposition finds in violence an alternative solution to these threats.


Stefano Tijerina

About Stefano Tijerina

My name is Stefano Tijerina and this blog’s objective is to connect Maine’s social, environmental, economic, cultural, and political issues to the global system, centering on how the local impacts the global and how the global impacts the local or what is known in Global Studies as the "Glocal" effect. In our present era of globalization it is crucial for the general public to understand how the new dynamics of the international system impact our lives here in Maine and how our local decisions impact the earth. These are my personal views, and they do not express those of the University of Maine System or the University of Maine.