After weeks of tension throughout the world as Kim Jong Il and North Korea conducted nuclear warhead tests, Kim announced that he would return to bilateral or six-party talks with America. The self-proclaimed dictator of the Communist nation reportedly claimed that he ‘regrets’ conducting any nuclear tests, which is why he agreed to resume negotiations.
Before passing any judgments, one should look at the history of Kim as a leader. He continued economic policies that led to the poverty of North Korea and the death of millions of his people. In 2001, he spent $340 million on military arms by selling North Korean political prisoners as laborers to Russia. He also received $120 million in foreign aid, which was directed at financing his military. In multiple situations, he continued to terrorize South Korean and Japanese citizens. After all this, Kim openly stated that he was not in possession of nuclear weapons. A few weeks ago, we all learned what a lie that was.
From an American point of view, why would anyone trust this man? A conservative would say that we should just resume the talks peacefully and try to make the best out of it. That was President George W. Bush’s agenda for North Korea during most of his administration. Look where we are now: After multiple nuclear warhead tests, Kim seemingly wants peace negotiations.
America should not trust this man. Based on his record, he could easily be stalling for time while mass producing nuclear warheads just as easily as he could be ‘regretting’ his decision to test them in the first place. Unless his tests were complete failures and he killed all his scientists in retaliation (which he is probably very liable to do), there is no reason to put a large amount of American effort and resources into negotiations with this man.
Bush has repeatedly declared that Osama bin Laden is ‘evil.’ Although this word is used loosely in present times, the connotation should not be forgotten. Reagan had previously referred to the Soviet Union as evil because they were illegitimate in their actions. Thus, it should be seen that Kim is ‘evil.’ What kind of a dictator starves his own people and orders Italian chefs to make gourmet pizzas at the height of the famine? What kind of leader imprisons three generations of families simply because they were descendents of Christians? An evil leader does. And it has never been an American policy to adhere to the wishes of an evil man.
The primary reason why America should proceed with caution, however, is the high tensions throughout the continent of Asia, which are unfortunately centered around North Korea. Taiwan recently declared itself an independent country and is trying to earn a separate seat in the U.N. council, resulting in anger from a Chinese government which is still trying to adapt to its new capitalist economy. Japan, one of America’s top economic partners in Asia, has a tense relationship with both China and North Korea. Finally, the 38th parallel still exists for a reason. A simple spark among any one of these countries could result in World War III, and, considering how many ties Asia has around the world, that is not an understatement.
There is always the conservative approach toward the present situation and one can’t ignore the possibility, however unlikely, that Jong Il is serious in his statements regarding the nuclear tests. However, the sanest approach would be not to trust the dictator, at least not fully. America should not doubt the fact that Jong Il has a primary objective and that these negotiations are either part of his plan or a secondary part of his agenda.
Jeffrey Dee is a first-year literary journalism major.