In 2017, the New York Times published an articled titled Can North Korea Actually Hit the United States with a Nuclear Weapon?. The world held its breath as Kim Jong Un’s nuclear power continued to expand. Not since the fall of the Soviet Union had there been a realistic possibility of a nuclear attack on US soil. By 2018, Kim Jong Un had committed to the full destruction of his nuclear program. In under a year, Kim Jong Un’s nuclear policy had reversed, as his country became fully committed to denuclearization. President Trump’s foreign policy was finally kicking in as he forced Kim Jong Un into negotiations.
Trump’s containment of North Korea’s unpredictable nuclear power and the economic implications of trying to contain North Korea’s nuclear power, along with Trump’s ability to overcome the previous failures in attempting to denuclearize the peninsula are contributions that should be appreciated on a global scale. Trump’s peace talks with North Korea have made him deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Imminent Nuclear Threat
Arguably, North Korea is the most dangerous country in the world with its nuclear capabilities, a highly unstable government, and dangerous leader. As North Korea continued to develop nuclear and biological weapons under Kim Jong Un, its capability for mass destruction could no longer be ignored. In January 2016, North Korea claimed it successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test. Later that year, North Korea claimed to have detonated a nuclear warhead. With a nuclear warhead and other weapons at his disposal, Kim Jong Un had the ability to devastate nearby countries including US allies, South Korea and Japan. Nuclear weapons aside, North Korea also has the ability to essentially destroy Seoul and much of South Korea with its heavy artillery positioned close to the border. Given the instability of North Korean leadership, it would be no surprise if North Korea attacked without warning. North Korea’s ability to ruin American allies signified the importance of neutralizing the country.
In 2017, the threat of North Korea increased severely as the country started to develop intercontinental missiles. With the power of intercontinental missiles, Kim Jong Un could theoretically hit the continental US with a nuclear weapon. With control of such powerful weapons in the hands of an unpredictable and inexperienced leader, North Korea was a major threat to global peace. The world watched with horror as the stakes and magnitude of the situation spiraled out of control with the threat of a possible global nuclear war being discussed openly. The implications of a North Korean attack marked the importance of disarming the socialist nation.
The Economic Drain
Over the years, given the circumstances in North Korea, the United States has poured money and troops into surrounding countries in hopes of deterring and/or containing a North Korean attack. There are thousands of troops stationed In South Korea and Japan and billions of dollars invested in defense infrastructure in hopes of protecting them from a possible North Korean attack. According to the Strait Times, the US spends about $1.3 billion in South Korea and $1.1 billion in Japan annually. The US also has 28,000 troops in South Korea and 50,000 troops in Japan. While in comparison to the United States’ $4 trillion budget and the amount of US troops stationed around the world, $2.5 billion and 75,000 troops are relatively small, but these resources could be used elsewhere or focused on more important adversaries.
Additionally, the cost of a war with North Korea would be astronomical. If past wars are any indication, the US would end up pouring a regrettable amount of resources into North Korea. According to the thehill.com, US conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other smaller post-9/11 conflicts cost the US a colossal $5.6 trillion and the lives of around 5,000 American troops. A war with nuclear-armed North Korea would definitely cost American taxpayers billions, if not trillions of dollars, and additional US troops. The threat of North Korea has already drained an extreme amount of resources. A war would cost even more, but peace talks with North Korea in hopes of ending their nuclear program would allow the US to put these resources to better use.
A Foreign Policy Embarrassment
President Trump is not the first US President to try to negotiate with North Korea on the topic of nuclear arms. Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama all tried to force North Korea to end its nuclear program. President Clinton made the first attempt to negotiate with North Korea on the issue of nuclear arms and, in 1994, he made an agreement with the socialist nation to provide aid in return for the end of their nuclear weapons program and the closing — but not the destruction of the Yongbyon nuclear complex. But by 1998, North Korea had restarted its weapons program. In 2003, the deal was completely abandoned.
President Bush also had a failed attempt at negotiating with North Korea but didn’t have much leverage during negotiations, as he was already fighting multiple other wars and couldn’t really get involved in another. Bush started by placing economic sanctions on North Korea but in 2003, Kim Jong Il forced Bush into renegotiating by threatening to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 2005, the US agreed to give North Korea aid for the suspension of nuclear weapon building. But again by 2006, the communist country had already tested a bomb and was found exporting weapons technology to Syria.
President Obama also attempted to force North Korea into denuclearization. He applied his policy of “strategic patience” where the US would wait out the country by economically destroying the country. The strategy backfired and under Kim Jong Un, the new supreme leader, North Korea doubled down on its nuclear program. Obama’s policy was marred with the President continuously backing down from facing North Korea.
All previous strategies at negotiating with North Korea failed miserably as oftentimes, the socialist nation would further commit to its nuclear program, as each previous President struggled to force them to fully denuclearize.
No Easy Way Out
President Trump gave up on previous strategies and brought his own unique style at confronting North Korea. Trump’s approach featured a strategy of doubling down on economic sanctions on both North Korea and China, a war on words, and accepting nothing but the complete destruction of the North Korean nuclear program. Like Bush and Obama, Trump placed harsh economic sanctions on North Korea to destroy its economy. But unlike his predecessors, Trump also pushed hard sanctions on China, North Korea’s ally who helped the socialist nation survive economically despite the United States’ harsh sanctions. Trump forced China to stop helping the North Korean economy as the Chinese economy started to struggle due to the American sanctions.
Trump also fought a war on words, continuously threatening North Korea, making it clear he was unafraid to back down. He made it clear he was ready to destroy North Korea if they attacked the US or its allies. Through a series of remarks and tweets, he showed Kim Jong Un he wasn’t going to back down. In an August 2017 press conference, Trump said that North Korea will be met with “fire and fury”, if they attack the US or its allies, making it clear he was ready to retaliate against an attack. In January 2018, Kim Jong Un said that his nuclear button was on his desk. Trump returned the threat with a tweet stating “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful”, showing again he would retaliate and also that he was unafraid of North Korean threats. Trump’s war on words showed Kim Jong Un and the world that he was unafraid of North Korea’s continuous threats, and was ready to destroy North Korea if they decided to launch an attack.
Finally, Trump forced Kim Jong Un into negotiations by accepting nothing but the full denuclearization and destruction of Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program. Unlike previous Presidents, Trump didn’t accept the halting of the program, as that left the possibility of North Korea restarting its program. Trump wanted their nuclear program ended now and forever. North Korea has already made its first steps in dismantling its program. In May, North Korea willingly destroyed its only nuclear test site ahead of peace talks. Hopefully, this trend will continue and in the near future, North Korea’s nuclear program will be a thing of the past.
A Nobel for Trump?
Only four US presidents have ever received the Nobel Peace Prize. President Trump deserves to be the fifth. All previous Presidential Nobel Peace Prize recipients fought for global peace and brought a possibly toxic situation under control. Theodore Roosevelt helped negotiate Russo-Japanese peace, Woodrow Wilson created the League of Nations, Jimmy Carter fought for International peace specifically between Egypt and Israel, and Barack Obama for his apparent efforts at denuclearization and his outreach into the Muslim world.
Donald Trump deserves one for his negotiations for peace with North Korea and his help in containing perhaps the most unpredictable country in the 21st century. The situation is arguably the most toxic in comparison to the peace negotiations brokered by previous Presidents who won the Nobel Peace Prize, considering the threat of a nuclear war and implications if Kim Jong Un was allowed to continue his nuclear program. Trump’s ability to negotiate peace with North Korea and diffuse their threat of global war is the reason he should be the next President to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
A Political Decision
While Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions toward global peace, when assessing the politics of the situation, he may not win. For one thing, the Nobel Peace Prize is selected by a Norwegian committee. Norway is a historically liberal country with policies such as high taxes and high regulation of business. It would come to no surprise that the Nobel Peace Prize committee’s views are nowhere close to the views of President Trump.
To make the situation worse, the Nobel Prize committee itself has made it clear that they are not very fond of Trump. In 2015, Nobel committee member Thorbjorn Jagland, tweeted: “Donald Trump you may have set the news agenda but at what cost? Divisive and irresponsible from a presidential hopeful.” Henrik Syse, the Norwegian Nobel committee’s vice chair wrote, ”President-elect Donald Trump has, with his rhetoric, lowered the threshold for moral decency so far it is downright scary.” Even before Donald Trump became President, the committee seemed to despise him, and as Trump continued his unorthodox ways, the committee most likely continued to dislike him. After Trump was elected, Asle Toje, a newly elected member of the committee wrote an opinion piece titled, “Trump is no Hitler”. In his piece, he argued that Norwegians were too harsh on Trump, but the fact that Trump was compared to Hitler represents the feelings the Nobel Prize committee has toward Trump.
Regardless, if Trump doesn’t win, he doesn’t need validation from the Norwegian committee. The world appreciates his contributions to global peace and understands the importance of the negotiations with North Korea.
The de-escalation of the situation in North Korea has had a global impact as the most dangerous country in the world was forced into negotiations with President Trump. The most dangerous country in the world is no understatement, as North Korea had possessed nuclear weapons with intercontinental capabilities with one of the most unforgiving leaders in the world. President Trump’s strategy of economic sanctions, a war on words, and reluctance to accept anything but the full denuclearization of North Korea forced Kim Jong Un to negotiate. While some may argue that North Korea has backed out of past agreements, and only time will tell the full impact of negotiations, Trump forced North Korea into a corner with no easy way out. Its main ally had been pressured out by Trump, as Trump was willing to accept nothing but the full denuclearization.
Although Trump is very deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize, he may not win, but the importance of denuclearizing North Korea is beyond the Nobel Peace Prize. While the committee might not validate his accomplishments, the world understands the importance of these negotiations.
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