Editor’s Note: The following is Michael Huling’s weekly Highlight.
For the first time in decades, the potential for peace within the Korean peninsula is a real possibility. Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The meeting was historic for several reasons, most notably because Kim is the first North Korean leader to step foot in South Korea since 1953, when an armistice was signed that ended the fighting of the Korean War.
In March, Kim visited Beijing to engage in diplomatic discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both meetings were successful and productive by all accounts, with the North Korean leader committing to denuclearization and the dismantling of nuclear missile test sites. In a display of solidarity with South Korea, Kim moved the clocks forward in his nation by 30 minutes to correspond with the time zone in the South. North Korea has even committed to releasing three American citizens that were being detained in a prison camp. President Trump is next on the list to meet with Kim, with a scheduled meeting likely to be announced in the coming days.
It looks like we may be on the verge of peace with North Korea, and it’d be a momentous accomplishment for the U.S. and the world to achieve peace with such a historically repressive nation. It’s easy to see why we ought to be excited about the sudden desire for peace from North Korea, although awarding Trump a Nobel Peace Prize seems to be taking things a bit far.
So, why am I skeptical? We’ve seen this all before.
In 1992, both Korean nations reached the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between South and North Korea, as well as the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. At a summit in 2000, there was another North-South Joint Declaration, one that was supposed to bring the conflict to an end.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in sounds very optimistic that his nation and the North are finally close to peace, but former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said precisely this after the 2000 summit. He declared:
“There is no longer going to be any war. The North will no longer attempt unification by force, and at the same time we will not do any harm to the North.”
While this agreement didn’t quite work out as planned, the next one was guaranteed to do the trick. The “peace declaration” of 2007, signed by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun included this:
“The South and North both recognize the need to end the current armistice regime and build a permanent peace regime.”
In 2008, Kim Jong-il showed his commitment to ending the quest for nuclear weapons by destroying the cooling tower at North Korea’s primary nuclear reactor. The symbolic and historic event was broadcasted all over the world as a pivotal step towards peace. The following year, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test.
Kim Jong-un agreeing to denuclearization is unquestionably a big step, but it’s one that hasn’t meant much in the past coming from North Korean dictators. Previous denuclearization agreements fell apart, and each time North Korea inched closer to reaching nuclear capacity. The Clinton administration reached a deal that was supposed to end the North’s nuclear program, but it became clear that the program was being continued secretly. Pyongyang’s refusal to cooperate and comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that its commitment to denuclearization was merely a pretense.
Some people argue that it’ll be different this time, and maybe they’re right. North Korea has taken some unprecedented steps to show its commitment to pursuing peace. One thing that is certainly different now than in years past is that the North has nuclear weapons and successfully tested long-range ballistic missiles. The current Kim regime is no less tyrannical or unhinged than those that preceded it, but it does have intercontinental nuclear missile capabilities. The continued development of the missile program is perhaps as much a symbol of propaganda to the North Korean people as it is a deterrent to military force from South Korea or the United States. Regardless, it’s a powerful deterrent that wasn’t available to previously toppled dictators Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. From the North Korean perspective, it’s the development of nuclear weapons that has given the country the power and legitimacy to meet with foreign leaders, including the president of the immensely powerful United States.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made it clear that the Trump administration wants “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” a standard that ought to be extended to the utter sham that is Iran Deal, which has allowed Iran to secretly continue its nuclear program. Pompeo maintained his wary tune:
“This administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks… We’re not going to make promises. We’re not going to take words. We’re going to look for actions and deeds.”
This careful and calculated position is one that must be held moving forward, or we will end up back at square one. A square that now has nuclear weapons, and an erratic dictator who is willing to use them.
The Fun Stuff:
The Yankees are on a roll, winning 15 of their last 16 games. The last time the team had such an impressive streak was 1998, when they went on to win 114 games and the World Series. Call it a hunch, but this season is likely to have a very similar conclusion. The Yanks are firing on all cylinders, with the team’s veterans and youngest players performing very well together. Ace starting pitcher Luis Severino threw his first career complete game shutout on Wednesday against the defending champion Astros. Sunday’s game saw rookie phenom Gleyber Torres hit his first career walk-off home run.
Not everyone is as excited to see the Yankees dominating, but I am. And it’s my column, so I’ll brag about my team as much as I damn well please.
The Yankees highlights aren’t going away, and neither are LeBron’s. In a close game three against the one-seeded Raptors, James capped off yet another brilliant performance with a game-winning shot at the buzzer.
The Cavs now have a commanding 3-0 series lead, and are playing as well as they have all year. LeBron is averaging 36 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds while shooting 54 percent in the series. The Celtics have also jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the 76ers, with the Rockets and Warriors leading 3-1 in their respective series as well. The playoffs have been very fun to watch thus far, and the conference finals are shaping up to be thrilling as well.
If for some bizarre reason you aren’t a dog person, this video should help change that.
Then again, if you aren’t a dog person, you might be beyond repair already. I mean come on, if you aren’t a dog lover, are you even really a human? Both of our species literally evolved to live together and benefit one another, so it just doesn’t make sense to not be enamored with our canine pals.
Lastly, with summer approaching and the much desired free time that comes with it, I’d like to add a new section to my Highlight. Each week, I’ll have a brief review of a book I’ve read that week. This may eventually develop into an extended book review column, but for now I’d just like to share my takeaways from whatever I’ve read that week. As a spoiler for next week, I began reading Jordan Peterson’s new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I have many thoughts on the book already, some of which are simply too chaotic, for lack of a better term, to convey in writing.
Have a great week and God bless.
Follow the author on Twitter