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Dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington – a good idea, despite the two bullies in charge

‘Grown-ups’ of the world must rein in the bullies, Mahir Ali  The Asian Age, 13 Jul 17 There have been plenty of indications that direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington could conceivably lead to some kind of closure.
North Korea’s deliberately provocative firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week has been billed as the most dangerous juncture in international relations since the Cuban Missile Crisis 55 years ago.

That’s largely hyperbole, but to the extent that there is some veracity in the claim, it may have less to do with the troubling mindset in Pyongyang than with the policy incoherence that has accompanied Donald Trump into the White House.

Back in 1962, John F. Kennedy held back his belligerent generals from attacking Cuba, which in all likelihood would have sparked a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union, while he pursued back-channel contacts with Nikita Khrushchev. The strategy worked. Although Kennedy subsequently lost his life and Khrushchev his job in what were, in all probability, related developments, they succeeded in averting what might have turned into the third world war.

This time, hopes hang on the prospect of US generals holding back their President from potentially disastrous misadventures, rather than the other way around. One can only hope there are roughly equivalent grown-ups in North Korea keeping an eye on how far their nation can go without becoming a party to unleashing Armageddon.

The image of Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, as recalcitrant toddlers with eccentric hairstyles, twiddling with lethal knobs while competing for title of chief playground bully, is hard to dismiss. One of them has more playthings than he could possibly handle. The other considers his toys crucial to his survival.

During his sojourn in Warsaw last week, where Trump talked about existential threats to Western civilisation, he also talked up the possibility of doing “some pretty severe things” in response to North Korea’s “very bad behaviour”, but then added: “That doesn’t mean we are going to do them.”………

Over the decades, there have been plenty of indications that direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington could conceivably lead to some kind of closure.
Sure, one would hesitate to place Kim and Trump in the same room without strict supervision. On the whole, however, this option should not be written off until it has been tested. In the meanwhile, let us hope Trump’s short memory span and plethora of other distractions will prevent any precipitate action on America’s part that could trigger a firestorm on the Korean Peninsula……..

July 15, 2017 - Posted by | general

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