I can’t quite remember what kind of hullabaloo followed any of the multiple agreements around nuclear testing that were signed off between the US and the USSR or Russian Federation. But I think I’m on safe ground to suggest they were lauded to one degree or another and that credit was claimed by various parties or given to various parties. And I’m pretty sure we were encouraged to feel good about it.
Not so with North Korea’s announcement that it would end its nuclear weapons and long range missile tests as well as shut down its principle nuclear test site. That’s to be treated with anything from downright suspicion to suspicious optimism at best. I guess the problem for many western commentators and news outlets is that everyone possibly connected with this decision has been portrayed as an enemy. So how to say anything positive?
Can’t give credit to Kim Jong-un, because he’s mad, bad and well – “end of story”. Can’t give credit to Donald Trump, because the idea is to undermine him and his administration at every turn, not make him look good. And it’s ‘hardly on’ to suggest that China – the great “Yellow Peril” in many peoples’ eyes – might deserve some credit for making the world just a little safer. And there’ll be no mention of the “little fish” in the big global pond – like South Korea for example. That would be downright absurd!
Best then to diminish and dismiss.
Suspending nuclear and long range missile testing obviously isn’t the same as throwing away a nuclear capacity. But it isn’t the ‘nothing’ that much liberal commentary is suggesting it to be.
As Alex Wellerstein, echoing a fairly widespread understanding, is quoted as saying in an Observer piece
People like to talk about North Korea as ‘crazy’. The absolute ‘craziest’ thing they could do is give up their nuclear deterrent in a situation where they have an aggressive nuclear-armed enemy. Does anyone think they are that crazy? I don’t.
Apparently, North Korea has also dropped objections to US troops being stationed in South Korea and to joint US/South Korea military exercises.
Maybe it’s time (actually, it’s long past time) for western leaders, who have seen fit to starve North Korea into complying with their own notions of what a “good” North Korea should think and do, to cut the ‘holier than thou’ crap. Time to stop using ideas of western moral superiority as an excuse to impose widespread misery on ordinary Koreans. Time to sit down and talk things through.
Constructing an enemy and hammering away at them relentlessly is the lazy, easy and stupid behaviour of incompetents and infantile idiots (as is encouraging such behaviour). Finding common denominators and moving forward on those bases is much more difficult, but much, much better for all of us ordinary people.