In a speech delivered to the South Korean National Assembly on November 8th, President Trump took a multi-pronged approach that addressed numerous players directly connected to North Korean aggression. In contrast to a September slew of critical Tweets, Trump took a more complimentary, amiable tone toward our Korean allies, but re-iterated that appeasement of an increasingly bellicose Kim Jong-un was not an option. In the same speech, he exposed the hypocrisy of China’s allegiance with North Korea, attempted to warn Kim and allied nations of America’s seriousness in stopping North Korean aggression, even hinting that it could mean American troops deployed once again to the Korean Peninsula.
It’s highly unlikely that North Korea backs down from any conflict or that its primary backer, China, ceases backing the critical buffer state or the Kim regime. China’s Communist stranglehold on society and politics seems closer – though far less cruel – to the Kim regime than any discernible form of true Democracy. Assuming Trump’s words are followed by any of the laid-out courses of action, this may mean inevitable conflict between America, South Korea, and the Chinese-backed North Korean war machine. That a military conflict seems more likely than not, and that such an outcome would require cooperation between the American and South Korean governments and forces, was a point Trump made by referencing the Korean War. He did not speak flippantly of the consequences of that war, showing that he understands the massive losses that both South Korean and American forces incurred.
“Almost 67 years ago, in the spring of 1951, they recaptured what remained of this city where we are gathered so proudly today. It was the second time in a year that our combined forces took on steep casualties to retake this capital from the communists.
Over the next weeks and months, the men soldiered through steep mountains and bloody, bloody battles. Driven back at times, they willed their way north to form the line that today divides the oppressed and the free. And there, American and South Korean troops have remained together holding that line for nearly seven decades.
By the time the armistice was signed in 1953, more than 36,000 Americans had died in the Korean War, with more than 100,000 others very badly wounded. They are heroes, and we honor them. We also honor and remember the terrible price the people of your country paid for their freedom.” (UPI)
All wars come with an immense cost, human lives, but those worthy of being waged have far greater implications than those lives lost. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has vocally opposed a pre-emptive strike on North Korea by the States, which would ham-string American military options. Trump’s message: we’re in this together, and we need full cooperation to effectively neutralize the North Korean threat. But, according to Geopolitical Futures’ Jacob Shapiro, it will take more than a speech for America and South Korea to be united in their approach toward the Kim regime.
'South Korea and the U.S. still don’t see eye to eye on what should be done about North Korea. As long as that is the case, the U.S. will find it difficult to convince the North that it should fear American threats.’ (GPF)
South Korea was not the only audience that Trump addressed through his speech to the National Assembly. He intended to further expose to the American people the dire threat that a nuclear, bellicose North Korea poses, appealing to the Kim regime’s ethical atrocities and Americans’ own sense of ideological security to get his point across.
“Far from valuing its people as equal citizens, this cruel dictatorship measures them, scores them and ranks them based on the most arbitrary indications of their allegiance to the state. Those who score the highest in loyalty may live in the capital city. Those who score the lowest starve. A small infraction by one citizen, such as accidentally staining a picture of the tyrant printed in a discarded newspaper, can wreck the social credit rank of his entire family for many decades.
An estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor and enduring torture, starvation, rape and murder on a constant basis.
In one known instance, a 9-year-old boy was imprisoned for 10 years because his grandfather was accused of treason. In another, a student was beaten in school for forgetting a single detail about the life of Kim Jong Un.”
The third audience Trump addressed was China, specifically its leader Xi Jinping. Detailing the atrocities that the North Korean regime inflicts upon anybody who is not 100% genetically Korean, including those with Chinese blood, Trump highlighted the hypocrisy of China supporting such a brutal dictatorship, valuable as a buffer state as North Korea may be.
“One woman's baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guards said it did not deserve to live because it was impure.
So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?”
Though Trump would be visiting with Xi the next day, he went out of his way to criticize the nation’s continued support of and dealings with the Kim regime. It was rare criticism of the Chinese President, and it made clear that North Korea would be the vital issue around which other topics, including trade, would be discussed when the presidents met.
The implications of this speech are not immediate, but Trump’s words reiterate the seriousness with which the his administration regards North Korean aggression. This seriousness was once again made clear to the South Korean National Assembly, the American people, Kim Jong-un, and Xi Jinping. Whether the speech’s respective warnings and pleas for cooperation foretell a militarized power struggle in East Asia under Trump’s watch remains to be seen.