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The North Korean Dilemma

May 1, 2017
Weekly Columns
In 1945, following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, the Korean peninsula was divided on the 38th parallel with the southern portion occupied by the United States and the northern potion occupied by the Soviet Union. The arrangement was intended to be temporary until a reunification could be negotiated. Seventy two years later, Korea remains divided, and the geopolitical ramifications of that division has grown increasingly tense.
At the center of this conflict is the ruling Kim family of North Korea. The first ruler of North Korea was Kim Il-sung who ruled from 1948 until his death in 1994. His son, Kim Jong-il, ruled from 1994 until his death in 2011. The country is now ruled by Kim Jong-il’s third son, Kim Jong-un. The Kim dynasty has been marked by atrocious human rights violations and a belligerent, aggressive foreign policy. However, Kim Jong-un has proven to be especially reckless, provocative and at times, seemingly unbalanced.  
President Obama’s policy towards North Korea was one of “strategic patience” which relied on sanctions and a refusal to engage in negotiations with the North Korean dictator. President Trump has indicated that he intends to pursue a more aggressive policy towards North Korea, particularly with respect to their ambitious nuclear program, which is blatantly targeted at gaining the capability to launch a nuclear bomb at the United States. It is safe to say that the threat of a nuclear exchange between two nations has never been higher since the end of the Cold War. Needless to say, this would be a disaster and would have many unintended, unknown consequences not only on the Korean peninsula, but around the world.
Despite nearly two decades of fighting a war against terrorism, the situation in North Korea has quickly become the top national security priority of the United States. I applaud and support President Trump’s tough stance against North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear capability against our country. North Korea and its allies need to know that the United States will consider every option when it comes to halting nuclear aggression by the Kim regime. The biggest and most important of those allies is China.
Contrary to expectations, the United States relationship with China has grown stronger under President Trump. China has signaled support for our efforts to put pressure on North Korea to stop their nuclear weapons programs. Our President should continue the dialogue with China and encourage them to use their significant influence to pull North Korea off the nuclear brink. The consequences of the failure to do so could not be higher.