nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

It is not wise to be cynical about North Korea’s thawing mood

The West risks missing a chance at peace if it continues to treat North Korea’s change of heart with cynicism  Could it be that Trump’s bombast over the airwaves cut through in Pyongyang in a way that conventional diplomacy had failed to do? The Independent UK, Mary Dejevsky  @IndyVoices 16 Feb 18

“”…………The mixed messages about the North Korean skaters, however, highlighted – or so it seemed to me – something else: a reluctance on the part of the foreign policy establishment, including the media, to look good news in the face, especially when it has not been expected.

How long ago was it –in fact, a bare six weeks – that Kim Jong-un and the US President were trading very public, very macho, insults, culminating in Donald Trump’s memorable boast that his nuclear button was “much bigger and more powerful” than Kim’s and, what is more, “my button works”.

Even the most hardened pessimist would have to admit that between then and now there has been something of a mood swing. Less than three weeks after the “big button” exchange, North Korea suddenly acted on overtures in Kim’s New Year address to broach talks with the South, and even participated in the Olympics. The IOC delayed its deadline for entries, permitted North Korea’s participation, and the next thing we knew was that North and South were concocting a joint ice hockey team, the North’s nonagenarian de facto head of state was on his way to Seoul, and Kim announced that his sister – his sister – would be going to the opening ceremony, too.

Far from hailing these developments as the possible start of a North-South thaw, however, the Western response seemed – to me, at least, – both fearful and curmudgeonly. Kim Jong-un was suspected of the basest of motives. Might he not be deviously stringing the South along, it was asked, just waiting to demand all sorts of impossible concessions at the last moment that would cast the Seoul government as the villain if it refused?

And was Kim not also staging a vast military parade in Pyongyang on the eve of the official Olympic opening? Well, of course, he was. No self-respecting national leader, least of all an autocrat in the mould of Kim, can be seen to be weak in front of his own people. Shows of strength have a habit of going hand in hand with diplomatic U-turns.

As the North Korean nuclear threat vanished from the headlines, however, it was only to be replaced with another menace from the North. Kim’s very presentable little sister, Kim Yo-jong, was accused of stealing the limelight, diluting the world’s attention that should have been Seoul’s, and presenting an image of the North that was scandalously at odds with the cruel and earth-scorched reality. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled, was the message.

That she was received in Seoul at the highest level and filmed handing over an invitation to President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang was also somehow seen as out of order, another trick to gain diplomatic advantage. Surely it would all turn sour even before the Olympic glow over the South had faded. The North Korean threat was still there.

Far from hailing these developments as the possible start of a North-South thaw, however, the Western response seemed – to me, at least, – both fearful and curmudgeonly. Kim Jong-un was suspected of the basest of motives. Might he not be deviously stringing the South along, it was asked, just waiting to demand all sorts of impossible concessions at the last moment that would cast the Seoul government as the villain if it refused?

And was Kim not also staging a vast military parade in Pyongyang on the eve of the official Olympic opening? Well, of course, he was. No self-respecting national leader, least of all an autocrat in the mould of Kim, can be seen to be weak in front of his own people. Shows of strength have a habit of going hand in hand with diplomatic U-turns.

As the North Korean nuclear threat vanished from the headlines, however, it was only to be replaced with another menace from the North. Kim’s very presentable little sister, Kim Yo-jong, was accused of stealing the limelight, diluting the world’s attention that should have been Seoul’s, and presenting an image of the North that was scandalously at odds with the cruel and earth-scorched reality. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled, was the message.

That she was received in Seoul at the highest level and filmed handing over an invitation to President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang was also somehow seen as out of order, another trick to gain diplomatic advantage. Surely it would all turn sour even before the Olympic glow over the South had faded. The North Korean threat was still there.

Nor should the use by potentates – and not just potentates – of close relatives as personal representatives and trusted go-betweens – be discounted as a ploy. Rather than being designed to detract from the South’s Olympic show, Kim Jong-yo’s trip to Seoul might rather be seen as evidence of her brother’s serious intent and esteem.

And what might have changed the equation? How about the US Secretary of State’s low-key offer of direct talks without preconditions that he made in December? Repeated in Seoul by Vice-President Mike Pence this week (once he had done cold-shouldering the North Koreans for the benefit of the US audience back home), this is what first broke the deadlock. There have been concessions on all sides.

So while the doomwatchers see the Olympic thaw as, at best, a deceptive interlude before the nuclear stand-off inevitably resumes, I would argue, for more optimism. A basis has been laid for detente; there is a real chance now to step back from the brink. The risk now is less that the North is insincere, than that suspicion and cynicism everywhere cause this chance to be missed. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/north-korea-war-nuclear-us-uk-europe-world-peace-conflict-a8212656.html

Advertisements

February 16, 2018 - Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: