In foreign policy, you either proact or react. This of course seems obvious: What in life isn’t a choice between the two? But when it comes to playing nice with our neighbors, the implications offer wildly different degrees of success, failures, and longevities of each. We reacted to Japan bombing Pearl Harbor. We proacted to Saddam Hussein’s attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. History recorded the good and bad consequences.
In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton and then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright struck a deal with Kim Jong Il, the father of current dictator Kim Jong Un. In return for destroying part of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, North Korea would receive relief from sanctions and $4 Billion in “energy aid“, Though the
naive and stupid of the world celebrated this political appeasement, we would learn in 2007 that the Kim dynasty completely cheated on the agreement. No one could have predicted that (ahem).
Here we are, again, reaping the whirlwind of our last mistake. Each time we get back into the ring with despots like Kim and the Iranian mullahs, our enemies get closer to making good on their promise to acquire and use nuclear weapons on us or our allies.
What do we do?
We know from intelligence sources and North Korean defectors like Hyeonseo Lee, that North Korea is nothing but a prison camp. As Dennis Prager says, the world’s largest concentration camp. People are executed for not clapping enough when the portly tyrant appears before a crowd. A speaker is built into every home that cannot be turned off so citizens have to listen to Kim babble on about their wonderful existence. Oddly enough, the people believe the Kims are deities. Here’s another weird fact: North Koreans are highly racist and classist. If you’re not the right type of Asian and if your name isn’t Kim, Lee, Chung, or a handful of others, you’re nothing.
North Korea sunk the South Korean submarine ROKS Cheonan in 2010, but they haven’t yet done anything to the United States yet except issue a few threats and test a few missiles. So right now we’re mostly in proact mode. What many fear, and there is reason, is the Stage 2 of what happens if we were to be proactive, and assassinate Kim Jong Un and his aide de camp. Would China or Russia fill the
vacuum? Would there be a humanitarian crisis for nearly 25 million of some the world’s poorest, malnourished, and illiterate people?
I believe we have to account for these likelihoods in our calculus, but I see North Korea as both a strategic and humanitarian opportunity. I’ve heard President Trump has thin skin, and people like Ben Shapiro have claimed he reacts to applause. I think Shapiro is right, so let me appeal to the president’s ego.
Mr. President, if you take out the North Korean regime correctly and unify the Koreas, you will be known as having freed 25 million North Koreans from some of the worst conditions humans can endure, caused 50 million South Koreans to breathe much easier (boosting their economy as a result), and by our stronger presence in the region, you will have sent a clear signal to China and Russia – who must assist in this initiative if we are to succeed — that everyone wins when we all behave. We have large and immediate humanitarian, economic, and security reasons to remove Kim Jong Un and his sock puppets from power.
Since not acting is acting, we must also consider the outcome of doing nothing. The greater risk is if Kim stands down and, like his father before him, promises to dismantle some or all of their nuclear reactors and initiatives. If this happens, we’ll see a repeat of the same words and actions in fewer years than the last. Then, it may be too late.
As former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said (emphasis mine):
One final consideration for Washington is that we should long ago have stopped considering North Korea as merely an Asian problem. What Pyongyang has today in terms of deliverable nuclear weapons, Iran can have tomorrow by making a simple wire transfer. The North’s cooperation with Iran on ballistic missiles, intended to be used as delivery systems for their respective nuclear weapons, extends back 25 years, just as long as our fruitless negotiations. And there is every reason to believe the two rogue states are also cooperating on nuclear-weapons technology, such as Iran’s possible financing of the Syrian reactor destroyed by Israel in 2007. Moreover, since North Korea will sell anything to anybody for hard currency, international terrorists need only take a number.