What a week it was! Last week hitherto, was one of those hypothetical scenarios you would encounter in nuclear-disarmament textbooks as well as in international relations classes. I cringed with endless beads of sweat lines on my forehead when two melodramatic and highly delusional men, both with short fingers on nuclear buttons, issued frightening threats to each other, their opponent’s allies and the world at large. What if Kim Jong-Un and Donald John Trump’s honor, jingoism, political concession and legitimacy in their respective countries is contingent on pushing that button?
We are currently experiencing the most implausible version of one of those fictitious international relations scenarios as these two men, on opposite sides of the Pacific seems to believe their political legitimacy and credibility teeter on vomiting perilous threats.
Should you be surprised? Of course not in the least! Kim and Trump both have been historically vindicated by precedence regarding making histrionic threats that amount to zilch. They both have a military that may or may not obey their commands. Trump failed to even get a single person to deliver on his threat to ban from the military, transgendered folks. Rather ridiculously, he made the repugnant “fire and fury” menace of bodily harm while golfing – Now how’s that? The Pyongyang’s leader, on the other hand, could also not supervise a successful investigation to identify those who triggered a major commotion in three cities of his country. Elsewhere in North Korea (NK), people are protesting against dumsor and/or the total lack of electricity. Beyond these goosebump-raising aura of yuck and frenzied incompetence, the presidential hit-and-run between Trump and Kim, carry much more petrifying ramifications.
With the launching of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), that’s capable of reaching mainland US, NK proved herself a force to reckon with. It is important to note that any US-bound missile from NK will be spending much of its travel time over the Canadian airspace. For example; a Boston-bound Pyangyong missile will fly very close to Montreal. In addition, any missile with its target destination as New York will fly over Ottawa, Nunavut and Hudson Bay, all in Canada. It is this rather awkward geographical disposition of Canada between the US and the Korean Peninsula that makes Canadian residents including my good self catch cold when these moody men with nuclear arsenals engage in incendiary rhetoric. We are therefore at the point where a US-NK war is imminent not only because of the scare tactics of Trump and Kim but also because these aggressors think the price of violence is affordable.
At this point, I will focus on Trump’s actions and hopefully, the youngest “mad and bloodthirsty” heir of the Kim’s ilk in the not too distant future.
I think Trump just blew himself into a mortal paradox where his threats would succeed, but only at further jeopardizing any solution (which I do not think is in sight) in the Korean Peninsula. I wish to state that, Trump’s failure to carry out the “fire and fury” threat could threaten not only his own crisis-stricken and completely clueless presidency ab initio, but also shatter his 2020 presidential bid towards which he is already campaigning. I am pretty sure Trump is well aware of the “madman theory” which state that; if you can scare your adversary that you are foolish enough to burn their country to ashes, then they most likely to sit for negotiations on your own terms. However, I am not too sure if he remembers the results of the theory. Even hawkish fanatics of this theory believe it would not work in the case of NK. If in deeds, Trump loses words about “fire and fury and frankly power” as a negotiating tactic, definitely that will not yield the desired results for Washington and its allies, because …your guess is as good as mine! With the benefit of hindsight, it is my opinion that the Kim regime is testing the tides timing going to town for the second Korean War.
I trust that any (nuke) attack on NK will be an attack on Asia and at the minimum, turn a major part of Asia against the US. Moreover, it will result in monumental destruction and death in South Korea (a US ally) thereby catapulting tens of thousands of refugees into China. As if that is not enough, China would consider any unilateral action by the US against NK, almost surely as an attempt to create a US-allied regime on the NK-China border and/or colonize that territory with Western grenades. This would inevitably force China to actively (not passive as they are now) interfere in the fracas in defense of NK. This at best, could turn everything to a puzzling version of the status quo and at worst, activate a nuclear-superpower conflict. The magnitude of these conspiracies is causing my heart to hammer away I must admit. It is sickening to note that Trump’s incessant threats have made my prognostications highly probable. The employing of polygonal sanctions including the latest one by UN to isolate and sanitize NK has little to show and is fast fading into insignificance.
In conclusion, I wish to proffer that, ultimately, the only approach in my quiver that might just work to denuclearize NK but haven’t been tried yet is a joint US-China crusade. This is because the interest of these two countries would be protected by a united and one Korea. However, let me add as a caveat that the route to getting there would most certainly be arduous, tortuous and most importantly, premised on an unprecedented amount of mutual trust between them (US and China), which does not currently exist.
Any regime change agenda would be on China’s terms and the US would have to deal with accepting major trade-offs including a loss of extensive control and power. By resorting to threats, Trump has these trade-offs staring and screaming at him in the face. As a result, he faces a humiliating choice of either being seen to lose or he triggers a cataclysmic situation in which we all lose.
I am very optimistic that the world would become more peaceful and tolerant and will definitely survive through the vicissitudes of the Donald-Kim regimes and their likes if as individuals, we become the best version of ourselves with an additional act of kindness. God loves us all and we shouldn’t hate each other. Regardless of your race, societal status, religion, sexual orientation, religion, gender and nationality, lets us share in the prayer of Francis of Assisi that “God, make me an instrument of thy peace! Where there is hatred let me sow love” since “there is no way to peace, peace is the way”. I wish you PEACE!
God bless us all!
By Ibrahim Watara
The writer is a biostatistician and also holds a certificate in International Relations.
For dissenting views as well as suggestions his email address is [email protected]