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March 12, 2018

Willing to Listen

Jason Miller

I want to start this off by saying that as a U.S. Army soldier, I did a tour of duty in South Korea at Camp Humphries from 2004 through 2005. The United States own Korean War memorial stands out in my mind as one of the most moving monuments on the National Mall.

 

If you want to have an emotional experience, gaze in person at the National Korean War Memorial at sunrise or sunset.

 

But I digress…

 

In the time I served in South Korea, I saw the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for myself. I said right then that barring a miracle, I personally would never see the DMZ removed. I went to the countless war memorials and museums in South Korea that honor the military and civilian dead from that conflict while I was on leave. I thought the hate between North and South Korea was too strong to ever achieve the goal of ending the war officially in my lifetime.

 

The news of the North Koreans seeking a meeting with President Donald J. Trump is an epic diplomatic event. Until the Trump Administration began just over a year ago, the North Koreans made countless demands of the United States to achieve peace. The North’s demands and conditions for talks were meant to push the United States away from peace table while looking to the world as if North Korea/South Korea continue prolonged conflict was due to an entrenched United States.

 

If the United States had agreed to the North Korean conditions, the demands would have put our government in a position of weakness at the negotiation table. The North Koreans have gotten into a pattern of behavior with previous U.S. presidential administrations that has served them well.

 

The same careful and prolonged pattern of events was required to keep the North Korean leadership in power if possible. Step one, big talk of being a victim of U.S. imperialism. Step two, nuclear tests inside North Korea. Step three, missile tests into international waters near Japan. The results were nervous world leaders wanting the North Koreans to knock it off while the world dealt with the Middle East.

 

President Trump broke the North Korean chain of behavior in the spirit of Ronald Reagan. The North's big talk of being a victim of U.S. imperialism was met with comical indifference from President Trump. The nuclear tests conducted recently inside North Korea came off as ineffective with the White House reminding the world of the vastness in its own nuclear deterrent. President Trump branded the North Korean Dictator “Rocket Man.”

 

The threatened missile tests over Japan turned into threatened missile tests near Guam. President Trump assured the world that the United States had lost its patience and would respond accordingly. The Navy was sent to provide a show of force. President Trump did not back down. That message was clear.

 

Now the North Koreans want to talk. The United States should be willing to converse with them. There are no terms to the meeting and that’s good news. This means the talks can be a serious departure from Dennis Rodman’s basketball diplomacy during the Obama Administration. The U.S. is in a position of strength now. This meeting might very well end the Korean War officially. It might unite a country.

 

The cable news media went nuts as word of a meeting with President Trump and the Leader of North Korea. Some of the president’s critics praised the prospects of a meeting. Other critics in the media entrenched themselves further into their ideological barricades.

 

This meeting is more about the world than it is about President Trump. We should be cautiously optimistic. The prospect of peace on the Korean Peninsula being above the left and right divide. The only power that North Korea has over the world is the power the world gives it.

 

President Trump has had enough of the games North Korea plays. Now North Korea is willing to talk. The United States should be willing to listen.

 



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