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Conflict Everlasting: US Losing Patience

US may take unilateral action against North Korea

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President Donald J. Trump hosts a breakfast and listening session with small business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

President Donald J. Trump hosts a breakfast and listening session with small business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

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President Donald J. Trump hosts a breakfast and listening session with small business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

Miguel Arriola, Intern

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During his election campaign, Donald Trump claimed he intended to pull the United States away from unnecessary military commitments with the exception of contributing to the fight against ISIS.  Just  over 75 days into his time in power, Trump has expanded US military operations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, as well as resumed selling weapons to Bahrain.  At the United Nations, the US led a boycott of UN talks to ban nuclear weapons while the Trump Administration seeks to expand the American nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has also stated it may take unilateral action against North Korea, an area of confrontation where the issues of US military commitments and nuclear weaponry: merge.  Speaking to the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday April 2, Trump said of North Korea’s nuclear program, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” This comes on the heels of related comments made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in South Korea.  “Let me be very clear.  The policy of strategic patience has ended…All options are on the table”.

April 5 saw the latest of North Korean missile tests in a series of launches after the close of US and South Korean war drills carried out on the Korean Peninsula. The US is said to be deploying THAAD missile defense systems and attack drones, as well as the elite Navy Seal force credited with the death of Osama Bin Laden, SEAL Team 6.  Al Jazeera reported in March that North Korean test missiles landed  in the Sea of Japan, prompting one Japanese city closest to the area to hold its first drill to protect people against missile attacks.

The same report also notes the current South Korean political crisis (in which the conservative President Park Geun-hye has been impeached), could pose a problem for US plans for a harder stance on North Korea.  This is because a liberal presidency could result in a less confrontational national posture than that of the anti-communist conservatives that have been in power for nearly a decade.

In a Democracy Now interview aired April 4, the world-renowned linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky said regarding the Trump Administration’s developing policy toward North Korea, “The claim is well we’ve tried everything, nothing works.  Therefore we have to use force.  Is it true that nothing has worked?  There is a record after all and if you look at the record, it’s interesting.  1994, Clinton established what was called the Framework Agreement with North Korea.  North Korea would terminate its efforts to develop nuclear weapons; the US would reduce hostile acts.  It more or less worked.  Neither side lived up to it totally but by 2000 North Korea had not proceeded with its nuclear weapons program…The opportunity to produce, to move towards a negotiated diplomatic settlement does not seem outlandish…”

Chomsky explains that George W. Bush reversed course on the Framework Agreement, threatening North Korea rhetorically and imposing sanctions.  North Korea responded by turning to the production of nuclear weapons.  Both Bush and Obama rejected Chinese-North Korean peace proposals similar to the Framework Agreement.  Chomsky adds that North Korea has the memory of being the target of one of history’s most brutal bombing campaigns in which the US committed war crimes including the destruction of dams.  The Korean War is the United States’ longest war since there has been no peace treaty to conclude the conflict that began in 1950.

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Conflict Everlasting: US Losing Patience