North Korea is a small blip on the map. The attention it receives on the international stage is entirely out of proportion with the nation’s geographical stature. Although the landscape may seem insurmountable and endless to visiting travelers and soldiers alike, in actuality, the national boundaries pale in comparison to its two giant neighbors.
Likewise, the brinkmanship displayed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong- Un is entirely out of proportion with the interests and needs of the planet. The beating of the war drum by the White House and the chorus of support from the mainstream news propaganda machine is actually taunting common sense with the possibility of thermonuclear holocaust. In a region that could easily escalate into World War III in the snap of a second, the president continues to escalate his rhetoric every day.
But why? I think the president would be wise not to underestimate the military capability of North Korea. Not only do they possess a nuclear deterrent, their masses are indoctrinated with a prophetic worldview that makes war with America inevitable. Every North Korean is being prepared to fight with all conceivable weapons-from hand tools to automatic rifles. They will fight from cave to cave, hilltop to hilltop, farm to farm, river to river, street to street, and house to house. It will be a catastrophic bloodbath that will eclipse the death toll of the first Korean War by millions. Does Trump realize that they have intercontinental missiles that can be fired from mountainous bunkers that are impenetrable? Does he understand that they have extremely well trained infantry and armed tank corps in every urban center? Meanwhile, the majority of Americans (who are not war weary from doing the real fighting) are vegged out on The Voice, Budweiser, and planning for their next family vacation. The bottom line is that America is not ready to go to war against North Korea. They are more prepared as a citizenry than we are for a protracted martial conflict.
That being said, a land invasion of North Korea is basically suicidal. The Yellow Sea and Korean Bay act as barriers in the west. The Sea of Japan acts as a barrier in the east. The interior is strung with impassable mountain ranges. The elements in winter are torturous.
So, why exactly does the president need to start World War III here? This is a nation that is in the dark. Why not work with China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to help bring them into the light? Why must we all succumb to the darkness together?
Is North Korea a menace. Absolutely. The nation’s track record is dismal in the area of human rights. But the most effective way to engage people in dictatorships is to show them why liberty and equality are enviable values. Rather than a policy of “strategic patience,” cyber-attacks, economic pressure, and the threat of war, why not try something new and interesting like creative diplomacy? Why not trade with North Korea? Why not negotiate for peace with North Korea? Why not make North Korea a business partner? Isn’t that what you are good at, Mr. Trump? Why do American interests need to inherently conflict with the interests of North Korea?
Who said this must end with thermonuclear disaster when it could begin with a New Deal for both countries?
And if that sounds like wishful thinking, what if we thought away the existence of borders all together? Why do we have names and flags to possess what is just imaginary lines in the dirt? There is no such thing as a natural border. We create these lines around us to protect us from all enemies- some are real and some are imagined. We tell ourselves that we need these lines in order to know where we are in the world. But the truth is we can only be in one place. That place is never where any map says it is. There is no such thing as a border beyond the ones we choose to perceive. The border- like the objects and people it is designed to keep out- is a product of our mind. We create it. We live by it. We make decisions by it. We let it rule our lives as if it is real.
George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY adjunct professor of philosophy and residential counselor at the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Rochester, NY. He has been published in numerous local and national journals, magazines, newspapers, and online blogs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.