And for the moment we’re only talking about it.
There’s probably nothing we can do. Both men, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, seem beyond our reach. And other than going to war what possibly could we do to stop the North Koreans from realizing their nuclear ambitions?
A framework for a Comprehensive agreement on their nuclear program, similar to that with Iran? Such has never interested Kim. Additional sanctions, threats? Just today without ruling out negotiations Vice President Pence warned North Korea “not to test the United States.” Well North Korea has been testing us with impunity for years.
What would Pence do to prevent the “testing”? And what “pre-emptive action“ would Secretary Tillerson, who ruled out on March 17 opening any further negotiation with North Korea, propose in its place if North Korea did elevate the threat of their nuclear weapons program to an unacceptable level? Another red line? So far we’ve been terrible with red lines, and would we be any better this time?
How much do we know about each man? Who are they? Are they at all up to the critical situation they find themselves in? To the situation we all are faced with? We know very little about Kim Jong-un, not even his date of birth (let alone his birth certificate!). About Donald Trump we know probably a lot more than we want to know. And from what we know most of us would prefer that Trump not be who he is, but someone else. Here side by side are Wikipedia bios of the two of them:
Born 8 January 1984 (or 5 July 1984).
The Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or as we know it, North Korea. Kim is only in his thirties, some 40 years younger than Trump
Little is known for certain about Kim Jong-un. Before taking power, he had barely been seen in public, and many of the activities of both Kim and his government even now remain shrouded in secrecy.
Details of his life are also shrouded in secrecy. What year he was born, whether he did indeed attend a Western school under a pseudonym, are difficult to confirm with certainty.
Kim was officially declared the supreme leader following the state funeral of his father on 28 December 2011.
The following year Kim was promoted to the rank of Marshal of North Korea in the Korean People’s Army, consolidating thereby his position as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. He is often referred to as Marshal Kim Jong-un or “the Marshal” by state media.
On 9 March 2014, Kim Jong-un was “elected” unopposed to the Supreme People’s Assembly. He is the first North Korean leader born after the country’s founding.
Forbes named him the World’s 46th Most Powerful Person in 2013.
Born 14 June 1946.
Following the Wharton School he took charge of The Trump Organization, a real estate and construction firm founded by his paternal grandmother, and continued to run it until his election as President four and a half decades later in 2017.
In addition to his considerable real estate holdings Trump owned the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1996 to 2015, and he hosted The Apprentice, a reality television series on NBC, from 2004 to 2015.
His calculated net worth as of 2017 is $3.5 billion, making him the 544th richest person in the world.
Trump won the general election on November 8, 2016, in a surprise victory against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. He became the oldest and wealthiest person to assume the presidency, the first without any prior military or government service.
Did Forbes name him as the World’s Most Powerful Person following his election? Will have to Google that.
Clearly the two men have little if anything in common. This may be to the advantage, of the Western world, in particular to Europeans and Americans who are most threatened by Kim and his nuclear gambit. The fiercest wars, those I would almost call “end of the world wars” (although up until the 20th. c mostly without the nuclear threat) have always been between people much alike, between brothers, between Northerners and Southerners, the French and Germans, the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Now we have the North Koreans and the Americans, who are apparently not at all alike, facing off against one another. And this may if nothing else insure our not going to war. Because why would we ever want to fight them, or they us? They have nothing we want, nor apparently do we have anything they want, certainly not what’s most precious to us, the Rule of Law, a Bill of Rights, a Constitution…
There have been exceptions of course, of those who do seem to get along with the North Koreans. I think of one of our own, Dennis Rodman, who was a real odd ball at home, on and off the basketball court.
Rodman’s first trip to North Korea took place in February 2013. Since then, he says he’s visited six times. He calls Kim a “friend for life.” Maybe we should send him back to talk with Kim, his friend for life, about replacing nuclear games with basketball games?
So what is the issue between us? Well, one needn’t look far. “It’s the bomb, stupid.” Why just today there was this headline from the Times, A Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion in North Korea. So is that what’s going on, a new Cuban missile crisis? In any case that’s probably what we’re most afraid of.
The big difference between then and now lies, so far anyway, in the geography. The Russian missiles were in Cuba, a hundred miles to the South. North Korea’s missiles are in North Korea, 9000 miles or so from, say, Napa Valley. With that kind of distance between us, along with Kim’s so far broken missile delivery system, what is there for us to be afraid of?
But here’s the rub. There is also South Korea along with our soldiers stationed as defenders at the demarcation line between north and south. That places North Korea’s first target area, just a hundred miles to the South, and no one, Japan, China, probably President Trump, or anyone else among Korea’s neighbors, is ready to sacrifice their South Korean brother to the end of a nuclear free but probably resulting lifeless Korean peninsula.