lowing hot and cold is a game integral to international diplomacy. Granted that this has great relevance, North Korea has been taking it too far. The latest is a new drama in a long series; the firing of a new set of short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. This may be to let the world know that it is capable of playing mischief and bomb targets in the US or South Korea if a situation so warranted. The firings took place for the fifth time in three weeks.
Notably, US president Donald Trump was apparently amused, and not provoked. Trump is enthused by a letter that Kim sent to him, saying no harm was meant by his firing of missiles but this was only to register his country’s protest over a US-South Korea joint military drill. Kim now proposes a fresh round of talks between the two sides to iron out the differences. Trump, on his part, is game for another meet. The businessman in him senses an opportunity even where none exists. It was with the same spirit that Trump broke a long-held animosity and standoff between the US and North Korea by having a formal summit with dictator Kim Jong-Un in Singapore last year. Not only that, Trump became the only US President to set foot in North Korea on 30 June 2019.
Diplomacy is a clever game, but what is expected in the end is protection and promotion of a nation’s internal, global and regional interests. During the Cold War era, North Korea was part of the anti-US axis, a prominent ally of the USSR and China, and belligerent as ever despite the relative insignificance of the nation in global scheme of things. The USSR and China, who were principal players of the axis for decades, shed their animosity to America and have over the years warmed in their engagements with the US, till the recent trade war. USSR split and Russia appropriated the legacy but it now has less of the communist spirit. China emerged as the main rival to the US in the new global scenario but is disinclined to take on the US in aggressive ways.
In the past seven decades, North Korea has refused to change. It saw the exit of two generations, and the third generation of the Kim family is reigning supreme. It has been using its nuclear capability as the only strong point to challenge the US. It is caught, through generations, by a persecution complex; constantly complaining that the US has evil designs on it. Talks are the way to smoothen things, and hopefully, both the North and South Koreas will be helped by the US to smoothen out their internal ideological rivalries. If this can be swung by Trump, then the international flashpoint of Korean peninsula could also prove peaceful for US interests.
Sadly, North Korea has decided not to remain in the international global political process. Kim as a dictator has not been able to project a more approachable image for his nation and thereby has created an image of a ‘hermit kingdom’, which, in today’s world, is sure to dampen the process of progress. North Korea is globally viewed as a rogue nation. Changing that image is primarily Kim’s responsibility, but the US can play a very positive role.
South Korea, the pro-US part of Korean peninsula is among the prosperous nations. The curious spectacle at night of the peninsula from the sky speaks for itself – darkness on one side and illumination on the other side. Leadership is all about helping a nation and its people progress and make a mark – it could be done through Communism too, as China ably showed with partial adaptations to capitalism’s path. Their younger cousin, North Korea, should not be left behind.