Credit Where It Is Due

7 August 2017

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Trump Scores Diplomatic Victory at UNSC with North Korea Sanctions

This journal is no friend of the Trump administration. Objectivity is a metaphysical impossibility, but fairness is a duty to the reader. Fairness dictates that one acknowledges a significant diplomatic victory of the Trump administration at the United Nations Security Council on Saturday. Through difficult negotiations, Ambassador Nikki Hayley assembled a unanimous vote in favor of the toughest sanctions ever levied on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK], to use its official name, in response to that nation's continuous testing of ballistic missiles. While the problem remains, a 15-0 vote at the UNSC is worth celebrating.

Reuters reports, "The U.S.-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures . . . . The new U.N. resolution adds nine individuals and four entities to the U.N. blacklist, including North Korea's primary foreign exchange bank, subjecting them to a global asset freeze and travel ban." Estimates are that this will reduce Pyongyang's $3 billion in export revenues per year by $1 billion.

The added pressure is not going to end North Korea's desire for a nuclear deterrent. The regime views a nuclear-strike capability as its only guarantee of safety from external (American) attack. What the sanctions vote does achieve is clarity to the Kim regime that its Russian and Chinese pals aren't very happy with its recklessness.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "The goal is to effectively block the DPRK's nuclear development process. Sanctions are needed but not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and to seek a final solution."

The Chinese have a policy that intersects American goals in places, but it is not the same policy. China wants North Korea to be a functioning state that keeps the democratic and economic system of South Korea away from China's borders. A reunited Korean peninsula with multiparty elections and free market economics sitting across the Yalu River would threaten the grip of the Chinese Communists in Beijing. A failed state that sends refugees into China is another risk the Chinese wish to avoid. The two combined are a true nightmare for President Xi and his comrades. A peaceful stalemate of rising stability is the real goal.

For the Trump administration, which has not had a good record in international relations, these sanctions have demonstrated that there is an ability to engage in diplomacy and get desirable results. Not only has China sided with the US, but the Russians have demonstrated that they can cooperate with the US rather than simply cause the Americans trouble.

This journal remains convinced that it will take a major war with hundreds of thousands dead to prevent North Korea from developing a first-strike capability against the continental United States. While such a capacity would be a threat to the US, the history of the Cold War suggests that North Korea might be successfully deterred and engaged. Until the sanctions resolution passed, this journal was convinced that the Trump administration would either embark on some sort of military action that would escalate into a disaster or it would bluster and bloviate while allowing the North Koreans to develop their nuclear capacities.

Now, it would appear that an unlikely third option has arisen -- diplomacy that might prevent a miscalculation that kills countless Koreans and thousands of US troops, that might slow down North Korea's testing program, and that might bring about a peace treaty ending the Korean conflict that officially started in 1950 and that has not formally ended yet.

© Copyright 2017 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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