Should Trump really handle North Korea?
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met in Hanoi, Vietnam, at the end of February to discuss nuclear disarmament of North Korea, but negotiations halted over sanctions.
Halfway through his time in office, Trump has failed to deliver on many of his campaign promises and his approval rating is relatively low. Trump’s tough stance on North Korea is still in the cards, and his approval rating is beginning to move up again after the recent negotiations, but the question remains if Trump will be able to reach an agreement with Kim before his time in office ends.
The international community has placed massive pressure on North Korea’s economy through billion-dollar sanctions. The United Nations caps North Korean labor exports, limits imports of natural gas and petroleum products and bans the export of electrical equipment, coal, minerals, seafood, agricultural products, wood, textiles and stones.
The North Korean economy is unsustainable because of these sanctions and they know it. Kim talks a big game with his nuclear weapons because that’s all he has. North Korea could not possibly win a war with any major world power due to its crippled economy and sanctions preventing the trade of arms and military equipment, so all they really have as a bargaining chip is mutually assured destruction.
Kim surely knows that to use nuclear weapons is a suicide mission but having his finger on the trigger is his best chance to remove the sanctions placed on his country.
However, it is impossible to talk about North Korea without bringing up its human rights abuses. North Korean people are starving and reports from people who have left the country are harrowing. But can the Western world really wash its hands of responsibility for this? On top of all the sanctions preventing importing and exporting, the United Nations has also made moves to limit the fishing rights of North Korea.
Between the stunted agricultural industry, the ban on many kinds of fishing and the inability to meaningfully trade, is it any wonder that the people of North Korea are starving? We can’t just place all the blame on the country with the suffering populous when we have rigged the system to prevent them from getting help or trading.
The removal of sanctions is a dangerous game to play. If we allow North Korea to bolster its economy, we may see an improvement in the lives of its populous and a general decrease in suffering. We may also see increased funding toward military research and an increase in military power with little to no increase in the quality of life for the common people of the country.
Removing sanctions could either make North Korea a significantly fiercer opponent, or it could appease the country into a position that wants peace.
Trump refuses to play the sanction game, and because of Kim’s demands to drop the sanctions, the negotiations fell apart. Trump’s current plan of carrying a bigger stick and threatening to use it does seem to be working to at least create a dialogue between North Korea and the United States, but it seems unlikely to result in disarmament.
Kim is ready to negotiate but his demands are high and he does not seem to be willing to give any quarter unless they are met. If Trump can reach an agreement here that appeases both the international community and the American populous while also not giving so much to Kim that he appears weak, it could be his finest moment, and in my opinion, his best chance at re-election.
Robert Kinnaird is a sophomore journalism major with a minor in history. He is a multimedia editor for The Chronicle.