The state of affairs in Korea today was emphatically displayed at the opening ceremonies of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea

North Korea at the 2018 Winter OlympicsThe state of affairs in Korea today was emphatically displayed at the opening ceremonies of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea (02/09/18).

Arriving from a press conference in Tokyo, where he had just delivered a blistering attack on North Korea while unveiling yet more sanctions against that country, a belligerent Vice President Mike Pence, decked out in red, white and blue, tried his best to disrupt the efforts of the Games’ host, South Korea, to bring some harmony between the two Koreas.

While every other person in the stadium stood up to celebrate the highly symbolic unified team of Koreans, Pence and his wife morosely sat like lumps on a log. It was painful to watch the Vice President of the United States boorishly trying to ignore the President of North Korea and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong un, sitting just a few feet away from him during the entire opening ceremonies.

In sharp contrast, the President of South Korea and his wife effusively greeted Kim Yo Jong and the North Korean delegation.

Nothing could better describe the divergent aims of South Korea and the USA than these photos. South Korea’s President Moon has been seeking ways to create dialogue with the North, while Pence and President Trump, with his “Fire and Fury,” have been throwing oil on the flames.

It is not difficult to understand the different attitudes: Moon is not interested in having his country incinerated by a war; Trump’s Administration doesn’t seem to mind sacrificing millions in the South, and even in Japan, if necessary.

I am afraid not much has changed since the 1950’s.

Just as in 1950 the repeated warnings from Mao’s government to Truman not to send MacArthur above the 38th Parallel were disdainfully brushed off by the Americans, so China’s warnings to Trump today that any attack on North Korea would be met with Chinese military intervention, seems to be doing little to quiet the sabre-rattling in Washington.

In an apparently orchestrated move, while Pence was trying to spoil the party at the Olympic Games, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, was delivering dire testimony on Capitol Hill. He was quoted as testifying that North Korea presented “a potentially existential” threat to the U.S, and that “decision time is becoming ever closer in terms of how we respond to this.”

Kim Yo Jong and Mike Pence at 2018 Winter Olympics

Kim Yo Jong and Mike Pence at 2018 Winter Olympics

What are the Americans so upset about?

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong un, in seven years of accelerated development, finally has what he believes is a credible nuclear deterrent to the United States. He feels he has delivered on his has promise that the US will not be allowed again to destroy Korea without itself suffering unacceptable consequences.

This, the Americans find “unimaginable.”

Well, so was it likewise unimaginable that Russia could be allowed to challenge the nuclear monopoly of the US. Or that China would be permitted to join the club. Not to mention Israel, Pakistan and India. But we learned to live with all of that, simply because there was no viable option.

None of these nuclear-armed nations was willing to destroy itself by launching a “first strike,” with the inevitable retaliation. So, the world has remained so far in an uneasy state of détente.

The greatest threat today to world peace is the public exploration by the Americans of possible military “options” against North Korea.

Whether we are seriously fearful of a nuclear but impoverished North Korea with its handful of bombs and a questionable missile system, or whether our real goal is to frighten China and attempt to “contain” it as we tried to do to Russia during the Cold War, it all comes down to the same thing. Will sanity prevail in D.C., as it has in Moscow and Beijing?

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