What is Really Happening between the Koreas?

What is Really Happening between the Koreas?

Why such apparent and abrupt change of positions between North and South Korea?  Is it, perhaps, fear on both sides of an unpredictable Donald Trump and what he might do without even a minute’s notice and certainly without consultation?

Absolutely yes!

Trump may be doing a whole lot of harm to existing international agreements and relationships -- he knows so little about diplomacy and pressing realities.  He has already turned his back on such key matters as climate change, refuges, international order and so much that underpins a stable and responsible world.

BUT, he has introduced the element of a crazy man who just might use nuclear bombs, explode international agreements, ignore long established norms underpinning world order….

It is hard to be proud as an American that we are responsible for elevating such a person to the most important and powerful role in the world.  But, that’s the case.

Donald Trump is an American creation, although other countries, throughout history, have allowed equally dangerous people to rise to prominence and power.  But, right now America is responsible.

There is almost nothing positive associated with Trump’s rise to power.  But one thing positive – an important thing -- may now be happening.  He has, before our very eyes, made Xi Jinping of China, Moon Jae-In of South Korea, and Kim Jung Un of North Korea so unnerved, so off their usual game, that for the first time since the Armistice in 1953, there is really an opportunity for real change, for a totally new relationship between the Koreas. 

And, it really is, at its core, an unsettled Chinese leader who can neither read nor trust Trump who is in fact pulling most of the levers. 

The result of all this instability and uncertainty is that in spite of all else that is going wrong in the world, precisely because of Donald Trump, for the first time the two Koreas have a real chance to make a significant turn in their relationship going forward.

So, let’s celebrate one major positive that may result from Donald Trump’s total disruption of the world order.  Only Donald Trump has in his power to screw this up.

What may be next?   Lasting peace in the Middle East?

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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