• Michael McGowan

Summit to Plummet

During the first summit between North Korea and the United States I was in the Navy with a great lack of news. I knew that there was talk of a possible summit to be held, but I had no idea what the details would be. My unit was ordered to congregate and our master chief came in and told us President Trump and the leader of North Korea had met and that this meant peace. Everyone started chanting USA! USA! For me, this created many more questions than revelations.

What are the terms of the negotiations? Was the United States giving something up? What were the North Koreans giving up? I knew that the U.S. wanted N.K. to give up their nuclear weapons program, but the fact that nukes are listed in their constitution as a national right would create a problem. However, it's not like that can't be overcome because the style of their government doesn't make a little thing like a constitution too important. Was there now an official peace? Was a peace treaty even signed? Was China and South Korea invited to the conference?

All that is old news. And now we come upon a second summit that creates another set of questions. Is North Korea intent on normalizing relations with the West? Do they realize what they have to give up to do so? Are they just trying to kick the can down the street to survive yet another administration that has failed to fence in North Korea?

China wasn't invited, but they certainly don't need to be. I'd equate China as the Godfather in all of this. They don't have to do anything, but they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If talks break down between the two adversaries then China gets to play the arbitrator: handing out favors that both countries will be indebted to. And what of South Korea? They don't have any say in the matter, but if this does succeed then they get to relax all the pent up anxiety from nearly seven decades of battle readiness.

Who wins? President Trump was right when he tweeted that North Korea can become an economic powerhouse if they'd just give up their nuclear weapons. I don't think we're playing the same game though. China, the United States, and to an extent South Korea are playing one game with one set of rules and goals. North Korea is playing it's own game that it's been playing for decades. That game is deception. They've been playing it between the USSR and China. They've been playing it since USSR fell. They play it with their own citizens. And now they're playing it against the world.

It's pure manipulation on the part of the three North Korean leaders that have been in power since 1948. Absolute and ultimate control over their country. I'm not espousing a continued state of war, but we need to be wary of what we actually are giving up. We've already legitimized their government with the first summit in Singapore. I'd venture to say there was a bit of legitimization when Bill Clinton stood with Kim Jung-il in 2009, but that was more of a humanitarian meeting to retrieve a captive journalist.

And this is what North Korea does. They play chess while they use any piece on the board to gain the advantage. If your opponent sacrifices a queen you'd better be paying attention on what their next move is.

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