Peace in Our Time?


South Korean President Moon Jae-in is reportedly among those who say President Trump deserves to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the nail-biting stand-off with Kim Jong-un. But I think it’s Moon who should get the award.

While Trump and Kim screamed threats and insults at each other, Moon skillfully coaxed North Korea’s  Dear Leader to the bargaining table. And Moon pushed all the right buttons. (Kim and Moon embrace in photo.)

Moon used Kim’s love of sports to win him over, inviting North Korea to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. And he acted like a reassuring adult instead of  ranting and railing like a kindergarten brat.

You will hear that Trump’s bluster and the imposition of ever-harsher sanctions brought Kim to heel. But I doubt that very much.

The West has punished the North Koreans with sanctions for generations, an what has that done? It has made them even more hostile of course.

I suspect China’s Xi Jinping worked behind the scenes to make Kim come to his senses.  The Oriental culture is older and wiser than ours. While our leaders swagger and preen, the Chinese tend to value modesty and subtlety. Xi understood how to persuade Kim to act in his own best interests, while allowing the North Korean leader to save face.

But it will be the West’s opulence that eventually wins over the North Koreans.  Once they share in South Korea’s creature comforts they will never want to return to the austerity and near starvation they now endure. (Vietnam is an example of this kind of transformation.)

Of course there’s a long way to go before peace prizes get handed out.  Kim’s impossible ambitions and a long history of antagonism block the path to a lasting agreement. But with Moon’s deft touch and the power of the Chinese at play, who knows what could happen?

Anyway, the threat of an imminent nuclear holocaust seems to be averted – for now.

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