There’s no doubt that we live in a crazy world where just about anything can happen. If only that could be put to a good use.
Perhaps the most festering sore in this feverish world is North Korea. The population is isolated and starving, living in constant fear. That alone is reason enough to do something, but the recent increase in belligerence and danger posed by nuclear weapons makes it imperative that something be done. The Trump administration does have a point.
We can’t do much about it, however, as that would not go well. But China can. In fact, it’s as much in China’s interest that this problem be solved as anyone. So why not at least propose a deal to make it happen?
File this under “It I Was President” and use it as another good reason why that should never happen, if you’d like. There are a lot of other reasons why that should never happen so one more won’t hurt a thing.
This, however, might be crazy enough to work
Rather than eating chocolate cake and casually mention lobbing cruise missiles at Syria, the president could have done something more dramatic during his meeting with Xi Jinping. It would involve putting an end to the terror of North Korea once and for all with a multi-step procedure involving mutual trust and cooperation.
The plan is to:
- Have US forces line up on the South Korea border and in the sea in a large show of force, bringing the North Korean Army to the south.
- The Chinese Army then crosses the Yalu river and quickly seizes Pyongyang.
- Massive food aid pours into the nation, provided by China and the US equally, guaranteeing that the population remains in place.
- An international force under the UN flag, directed by South Koreans whenever possible, takes over responsibility for North Korea.
- China recognizes a unified Korea and pledges to protect its sovereignty, withdrawing its forces.
- The US removes ALL of its military from the Korean peninsula.
If this sounds crazy, it is. But China has long wanted to solve the North Korea problem for its own reasons, and has expressed this in diplomatic cables as leaked by wikileaks. The reasons are many. If nothing else, the cost of patrolling the border to keep out refugees is very high and creates its own problems for China. China has also developed a long-term strategic partnership with South Korea, arguably now the center for computer technology for the entire planet.
It is also not lost on China that nuclear weapons on its own border are a serious threat, especially in the hands of a petulant adolescent.
Justifying this action may sound difficult, but it is not. The UN Charter allows for invasion only if there is an “imminent threat” of military action. This standard has certainly been met by a nation that refuses international protocol and monitoring of their nuclear capabilities, combined with the development of missiles in open violation of UN resolutions. China, as a Security Council member, could have vetoed any one of them – but did not.
If nothing else, action taken by two Security Council members, especially two that are often at odds, will find a way to be justified no matter what.
The biggest problems with such a deal are the other long-simmering disputes between the US and China, namely the status of Taiwan and rights to the South China Sea. Leaders would have to agree to ignore those for the moment. This may well suit the generally practical Chinese leadership as well as provide a model for the rest of the world – “grand bargains” to solve everything at once are tickets to inaction and instabiliy.
This would rightly scare the smaller dictators like Bashar al-Assad who have been able to play powers off of each other. This action would show that the era of games is over.
Is all of this crazy? Of course it is. But remember that by saying so, the definition of crazy now includes a practical solution that would end the perpetual suffering of 25 million people over a period of nearly 70 years. That’s the kind of crazy the world needs a lot more of.
One can point to many historical examples of situations in which intervention could have been highly beneficial. Various ones in the runup to WW2, for example. Perhaps the strongest argument against your proposal is that the North Korean leaders do have at least a few nuclear weapons in hand. What would they do with them…..?
Yes, the last second launch would be the one downside. But they don’t seem ready or able to do that. They may if we wait much longer.
To me, cooperation between the US and China is essential for a lot of things. This is a good place to start. If it can be done more peacefully than by all means let’s do it. But we shouldn’t let this fester when we both know it is horrible and we both want it to change.
I do not see this happening under any circumstances. It would be good, especially if you got China to get out once they were in, but I don’t see it happening.
I know, it’s crazy. But it’s what should happen – assuming a more peaceful method can’t be found.
Never going to happen. Would be interesting tho.
In this world I do think anything is possible.