So Donald Trump has given himself an A+ for his performance as president. (Talk about grade inflation!) And, with the backing of his adoring Trumpenproles, including 18 Republican congressmen who have nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, he’s preparing his acceptance tweet as we smirk. I suppose he’s probably rushing it before Inspector Mueller comes calling with a fistful of subpoenas. Imagine a Nobel Laureate accepting the Peace Prize from a federal prison cell.
Of course, that certainly wouldn’t be Trump’s first first in the office he holds.
I’m referring indirectly, of course, to the surprising prospect of peace at last on the Korean Peninsula, and his taking credit for it by waving his huge nuclear stick in Rocketman’s fat face. (We wiser watchers know that South Korea’ President Moon Jae-in was the real prime mover toward any peace settlement.)
An end to the Korean War, though…Wow!…a consummation devoutly to be wished...especially by me. That was my war, the Korean War, and I remember clearly the July day in 1953 at Komaki Air Force Base when the truce was called; the guys in my outfit went on one mighty beer bust (Kirin preferred), expecting a peace treaty to soon follow. Not to be. For the following 65 years the divided Korea has been a place of sporadic violence and constant tension, ever threatening to explode and spread, with the ever more likely use of nuclear weapons.
So we should all rejoice in the good news that North Korea and South Korea are in peace talks, a hopeful sign welcomed by an anxious world. But don’t set your hopes too high. The barriers are even higher. And past attempts to make peace on the Korean Peninsula have been spectacular failures. Why? Besides the paranoid mindset of the autocratic North Korean leadership and its habit of stringing the world along, then reneging on promises made?
Any peace in the Northwest Pacific is complicated by the geopolitical fact that the divergent interests of six formidable nations are clustered there. They are?
A militarily strong and newly nuclearized North Korea wants security and an end to its pariah status in the world.
An encircled South Korea wants peace to assure its continued economic rise and to satisfy its yearnings for unification of the Korean people.
Prosperous but nervous Japan, in nuclear-armed missile range of two nations it warred upon in the not so distant past, is in desperate need of protection.
Burgeoning China has its own worries about a unified Korea that would pose, if not a threat, then certainly a rival, both economically and geopolitically.
Putin’s Russia, looming just north, looks for any mischief it can make to expand its disruptive influence.
And lastly, the United States (without an ambassador to South Korea no less), is widely seen as a suddenly waning world power under Trump, whose foreign policies are apt to flip from day to day, depending on the latest Tarot Card turned over in the West Wing.
If that wasn’t hurdle enough, Trump continues with his usual blowhard’s bluster, strut and swagger so reminiscent of Il Duce in his day, bragging about his peace-making prowess while the world’s diplomats shudder. We’ll soon know the chances for success. He promises to tell us tomorrow whether he will honor the landmark Iran Nuclear Agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama (a Nobel Peace Prize winner himself) that halted nuclear weapon-making in Iran; signing on to the deal were Russia, China, Germany, France and England—an amazing feat of diplomacy, and a major step toward preserving world peace.
If Trump says “yes,” he will renew, we can all exhale our relief in unison. If he scraps it, as is expected, we can start restocking our fallout shelters and Trump can kiss what remote chance he had of a Nobel Peace Prize goodbye forever.
Seriously, if you were North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, would you enter into a peace treaty with a country that just bailed on a similar agreement negotiated three years ago?
So let’s pray that our President does not destroy the Iran agreement and put the world in more nuclear peril. And let’s be kind and not tell him he doesn’t have a remote shot at the Nobel even if he doesn’t. We could soften the blow by telling him that he might still be in line for the Stalin Peace Prize...if it is still offered. We can always check with Vlad on that.