Alberta Politics
North Korean President Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in shake hands (Photo: Government of South Korea).

Geopolitical Sunday: Don’t hold your breath waiting for the state of war to officially end on the Korean Peninsula

Posted on April 29, 2018, 2:20 am
7 mins

If the Korean War formally ends any time soon, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why not? Just because he presides over a very large military and leads a country that’s not very nice to its own citizens when they step a centimetre out of line is obviously no barrier to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: White House).

If you think that sounds weird, you’ve drunk the Western Kool-Aid without even noticing.

After all, President Barack Obama, a handsome Western man who wore beautifully tailored suits and had an engaging sense of humour, got one in 2009. At the time, he led the hugest military on earth (as his comparatively scruffy successor might put it in a Tweet) and presided over a country that isn’t all that kind, either, to citizens who step an inch out of line. He went on from there to perfect the use of autonomous aircraft as instruments of mass murder, which is not something Mr. Kim can be accused of.

What’s more, Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State to presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and pretty much a certified war criminal, won one in 1973, as did Aung San Suu Kyi, later implicated in a genocide, in 1991. You get the picture. 

The North Koreans, of course, call the places where they incarcerate a huge percentage of their fellow citizens “labour camps” instead of “correctional facilities,” as in more savvy countries. I’m sure that’s a mark against them with the Norwegians who hand out the otherwise Swedish Nobels. Obviously, the North Koreans haven’t yet fully absorbed modern public relations best practices.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and war criminal Henry Kissinger (Photo: David Shankbone, Creative Commons).

Plus, unlike Mr. Obama or even Mr. Trump, Mr. Kim has pretty weird fashion sense by Western standards – he combines a hipster haircut with old Mao jackets from the back of his grandfather’s closet – so that may be enough on its own to get the sanctimonious Scandinavians to rule him out as a potential prize winner.

We don’t know much about his sense of humour, if only because not very many people around here speak Korean. He certainly smiles a lot, but wouldn’t you if you’d just run diplomatic rings around The Most Powerful Person on Earth (MPPOE), the state-of-the-art gender nonspecific nomenclature that now ironically must be borne by the arch-patriarchal president, Donald Trump?

Seriously, what options does Mr. Trump have now that the North and South Korean presidents are skipping gleefully together around the Demilitarized Zone between their supposedly warring Koreas?

As the New York Times observed yesterday, “resumption of regular diplomatic exchanges between the two Koreas … will inevitably erode the crippling economic sanctions against the North, while Mr. Trump will find it hard to threaten military action against a country that is extending an olive branch.”

Which gets us to the point of this screed, that President Trump, it should be obvious to all by now, is not really the MPPOE. Indeed, every time he tries to carry out one of his policy promises he’s immediately slapped down and has to replace another trusted aide with a Marine Corps general.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama in Oslo with his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize (Photo: White House Photostream).

If this sounds kind of like North Korea with a velvet glove to you, it does to me too. The phrase “deep state” springs to mind, although I don’t actually like to say that aloud without putting on my tinfoil hat first.

If we know anything about the state of the Korean Peninsula – two heavily armed camps, one for all intents and purposes occupied by the nuclear-armed U.S. military – it’s that the American establishment likes things exactly as they are.

It gives the United States a military edge over North Korea’s two other next-door neighbours, the Americans’ old and new geopolitical rivals Russia and China, and it ensures another competing economic and military colossus doesn’t rise from the lingering wreckage of the Korean War, which began almost 73 years ago and is still technically in progress.

Heaven and Dr. Kissinger both know an official conclusion to the Korean War would be another step toward a multipolar world, which the U.S. political and military establishments are both committed to avoiding – quite possibly at all costs.

This in turn suggests the South Korean government of President Moon Jae-in may not necessarily be the comfortably obedient American ally in this affair we have been conditioned to assume is the case either.

It also means the U.S. armed forces will almost certainly start throwing spanners into the works to prevent peace on the peninsula, no doubt with a cheerful ready aye ready from their Canadian counterparts.

So whatever kind of a deal President Trump imagines he can achieve at his upcoming summit with Mr. Kim, it is highly unlikely it will include denuclearization and legal peace on the Korean Peninsula.

If he does indeed succeed, if I may be so bold, he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize too. Perhaps he can share it with President Kim, and maybe even with President Moon as well.

Don’t hold your breath.

5 Comments to: Geopolitical Sunday: Don’t hold your breath waiting for the state of war to officially end on the Korean Peninsula

  1. Expat Albertan

    April 29th, 2018

    Good commentary, but one quibble: the North Korean leader is Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-il was his dad.

  2. Jim Clarke

    April 29th, 2018

    Pickiness …

    Para. 1: Jong-un, not Jong-il. Or maybe there are grounds for gongong Jong-I’ll too?

    Para. 2, as long as I’m here: its, not it’s.

    • Jim Clarke

      April 29th, 2018

      “Gongong” and Jong-I’ll indeed. I’ll never get used to being autocorrected.

    • David Climenhaga

      April 30th, 2018

      Thank you to you and expat for pointing this out. I blame fatigue, the result of posting blogs in the wee hours. Jong-il for Jong-un was just a slip (you’ll note that the photo caption got it right); it’s for its, of course, unforgivable! They’ve been fixed. DJC


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