With the Winter Olympics now in full swing and with the North Koreans participating, it seems to me we are losing an opportunity to engage on even a minimalist level. I get the increased sanctions we have put on the North and I even get some of the “good cop/bad cop” posturing of the Trump administration, but what is wrong with the Vice President of the United States shaking the hand, smiling and wishing Kim Yo Jong, sister to the dictator, good health while they were seated almost next to one another during the opening ceremonies? In addition, by Vice President Pence not standing when the Korean athletes, both North and South, marched in together, it seems he gave affront to both countries. Although I have never been in the foreign service, one thing I have learned from all my friends who were or are, “be polite all the time.” By acting the way the Vice-President did, he gave the N. Koreans the opportunity to look better then we did.
If we continue to take Trump’s position, different by the way then Secretary of State Tillerson’s position, that no negotiation is possible, unless they commit to giving up their nukes, we are whistling Dixie.
Yes, the North is run by a brutal family dynasty, their behavior is awful and an affront to mankind in general, but it would be nice if experts who knew what they were doing managed our foreign policy objectives.
Ambassador Ken Quinn, President of the World Food Prize, proposed some months ago that using agriculture and possibly World Food Prize honoree’s to began overtures to the North and remove politics from the discussions, could be a way forward. Famine is rampant throughout North Korea and this overture could show a true human side to our efforts. If Vice President Pence, in just a couple of quick sentences could have laid that thought on the table when shaking the hand of the sister of the dictator, it just might have found legs.
I do not know what the ultimate answer is to resolving the issues with North Korea, but tamping down the rhetoric would be a start toward resolution to this vexing problem.
by Dick Goodson