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North Korea: Will it be Diplomacy or War?

by John Brian Shannon

The hands of the nuclear doomsday clock were recently moved to 2.5 minutes to midnight, signifying we’re closer to nuclear Armageddon than at almost any time in history and with the implication that we’re moving in the wrong direction.

It is news that most people don’t want to hear, it’s easier to simply block those things out while waiting for the blinding flashes that will end life on the planet.

Regardless, there are some on this world who want life to continue and are working against the march towards nuclear confrontation and the concomitant and devastating aftermath of nuclear war.

Doomsday clock reset to 2.5 minutes to midnight in January 2017

“Two and a half minutes to midnight. That’s the new setting of the Doomsday Clock, the iconic symbol that attempts to show just how close humanity is to inadvertently ending the world.

In an announcement this morning, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—which runs the Doomsday Clock—moved the hands of the clock 30 seconds nearer to midnight, the closest it has been since 1953, when the Soviet Union and the U.S. exploded their first hydrogen bombs and the threat of worldwide nuclear annihilation seemed very real.”Why Doomsday Is Closer Than You Think (TIME)

Former General Secretary of the Soviet Union and President of Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev — one of the ‘adults in the room’ who ended the destructive Cold War in 1989 — said in January 2017:

“The world today is overwhelmed with problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss.

But no problem is more urgent today than the militarization of politics and the new arms race. Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority.

The current situation is too dangerous.

Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.” Mikhail Gorbachev: ‘It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War’ (TIME)

Former Defense Secretary of the United States and Professor (emeritus) William Perry — also ‘one of the adults in the room’ who worked to end the Cold War — recently posted the following at his website:

“Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”

“The gravest security threat of our time is the danger of a nuclear weapon being detonated in one of our cities.”

“Last year the Doomsday clock was set at 3 minutes to midnight, the closest it has been to global “midnight” since the iciest days of the Cold War. This ominous pronouncement reflected own my fears that we were now in greater danger of nuclear catastrophe than we were during the Cold War, with the growing threat of nuclear terrorism, the continued risk of accidents and miscalculation, and the possibility of regional nuclear war and continued nuclear proliferation around the world.

Today the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that we have moved closer to global catastrophe, for the first time setting the clock 30 seconds ahead to 2 and a half minutes to midnight, approaching a time not seen since the United States and Soviet Russia first developed the h-bomb.

We must heed this dire warning as a call to action.

There are concrete steps that we can take to reduce the risk of nuclear annihilation, such as outlined by the scientists at the Bulletin, but we must start today.” William J. Perry former U.S. Secretary of Defense (William J. Perry Project)

The video above is based on only one scenario of many that could initiate a full-fledged nuclear war.

In reality, nuclear-armed terrorists hitting America are the least of all fears.

If the public knew the limits of groups like ISIS, such groups would be quickly dismissed as a threat to the United States — due to their inability to operate outside of their home territory and their lack of understanding of, and access to, nuclear devices.

There are countless other ways however, that nuclear war could happen.

The aftermath of which would leave a world without any living vegetation (perhaps a small corner of the Amazon might survive the nuclear fallout carried thousands of miles by the clouds, which then rain down killing all plants, trees, and crops within hours or days) and (as those same clouds also rain down on the seas and lakes) most marine and aquatic life would perish.

Surely the human race is smarter than that.
Or are we?

It seems that a certain amount of momentum has been created by the rhetoric coming out of several capital cities in recent months which moves us towards larger defense budgets, increased force projection, and opportunities for conflict enlargement.

Shortly after the creation and first-use of an atomic bomb in warfare, Albert Einstein famously remarked;

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”Albert Einstein

Let’s hope that in the 21st-century that our humanity exceeds our technology. If that isn’t true, we probably won’t have to worry about it for long as we’ll soon be reduced to carbon dust.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”Albert Einstein

Therefore, let us embrace new thinking to solve our old problems that our old thinking hasn’t solved over decades of time.

Every day we teach others how to treat us

And so it is in politics; Nations are led by human beings, not artificial intelligence bots.

If we treat a leader of a country as a common criminal, he will eventually defer to acting the part of a criminal and we will suffer for it. If he can then gain access to nuclear weapons, so much the worse for us and for him. We must be careful what we ‘teach’ such people.

So much better would it be to make every world leader, ‘part of the solution, instead of part of the problem’. So tell me, why aren’t we doing that?

“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.” — British statesman Tony Benn

As we know all to well — a failure of diplomacy leads to war.

The Cold War ended not through military supremacy (as some wrongly believe) but by employing diplomatic engagement between Soviet and Western leaders

Yes, the case can easily be made that ‘Peace through Strength’ helped to prevent all-out war with the Soviet Union, not only during the Reagan administration, but through the entire Cold War period.

And just as definitively, an equally compelling case can be made that the strength of the Western economy led primarily by the United States, helped to prevent a war to end all wars between the Soviet and the Western blocs.

Those two factors worked to create enough space for politicians and their diplomats to solve the then-intractable problems of the Cold War era. And just in time, it’s been said countless times.

Let me be clear; It wasn’t huge military budgets nor fancy weapons systems that ended the Cold War. Nor was it the presumed superiority of the Western economy or its banking sector. It was the use of diplomatic engagement over decades of time by professional diplomats on both sides that ended the Cold War.

We need to make North Korea “part of the solution, instead of part of the problem”

Instead of endless sabre-rattling and lurid accusations, we need to begin a long-term and full-on constructive engagement with Kim Jong Un of North Korea and with every department of the DPRK government even if it takes 20-years to achieve our goals of peace, order, and good government in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

Anything less will result in a failure of diplomacy with a nuclear-armed nation… and there’s only one end to that scenario.

Please tell me we’re better than that.


North Korea lies in a productive agricultural region and although its agronomy isn’t advanced, it could be with some foreign investment and knowledge-sharing by the West, by Japan, and by others in the region.

By inviting North Korea to grow grains to be used for aviation biofuel we could accomplish many goals at once.

Global general aviation represents 2% of all global CO2 emissions using conventional petroleum kerosene fuel — but airlines that use biofuels (and Boeing Aircraft) report that emission levels drop by up to 80% when those aircraft burn a 50/50 blend of kerosene and biofuel sourced from non-food grains, and they further report that jet engines require half the normal maintenance schedule because biofuel blends burn so clean.

NASA Study Confirms Biofuels Reduce Jet Engine Pollution (NASA)

By making North Korea part of the solution instead of part of the problem, we could not only solve their threatening behaviors which are typical of developing nation leaders trying to bully their way into the club of developed nations, we could also cut global airline emissions by half or two-thirds, and prolong jet engine lifecycles.

Purchasing vast quantities of biofuel from North Korea would improve their economy and bring it into the 21st-century in many respects.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become all that he can and should be.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Arguably, this quote can apply to the macro-political world, and if it were to be successfully overseen to its practical conclusion it would allow North Korea’s 25-million citizens to join our modern way of life and serve to moderate their views about the West and other developed nations via increased exposure to developed world norms.

Who knows? North Koreans might allow their kids to have limited internet access, or (eventually) allow their older students to study abroad. (All of which and more has happened in previous decades for people who lived in formerly, politically isolated nations)

Making North Korea ‘Part of the Solution, instead of Part of the Problem’ should be the only goal under consideration by leaders of all nations, including the leaders of the United States.

It’s time for some geopolitical statesmanship by the United States

…On the scale of former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger’s ‘Shuttle Diplomacy’ where he negotiated the agreement President Richard Nixon and Kissinger himself wanted; A politically open China, one that would engage in global trade. (Which certainly seems to have worked!)

…On the scale of the Marshall Plan to rebuild postwar Europe. (Again, a stunning success, by any standard!)

…On the scale of the plan to rebuild postwar Japan and de-feudalize their society. (Another stunning success!)

…On the scale of the Moonshot first proposed by Ike Eisenhower, and later convincingly proclaimed by John F. Kennedy be accomplished within a decade. (Another astonishing success!)

…On the scale of ending the Cold War by the brightest minds the world has yet known. (Another success that allowed life to continue on planet Earth!)

…On the scale of succeeding through the great depression and improving the way of life of millions of Americans. (Yet another success story!)

…And on the scale of bringing modern technology to advance the lives of billions of people. (Again, success after success!)

This is not the time for war, this is the time for true political leadership by the most advanced nation in the world, with a vision of the caliber that we’ve witnessed in previous decades, under previous presidents.

Start with a clean sheet!

This is the time for a true and new vision — a complete remake of an inherited situation — as if we sat down and wrote out on a clean sheet of paper, the very best result that we could possibly achieve for ourselves and for the citizens of North Korea.

“Begin with the end result in mind.” — Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

This is the time to prove American political leadership continues and that the wherewithal to accomplish vital and profitable goals still resides in the heart of America.

This isn’t the 20th-century, where we practiced ‘Win-Lose’ paradigms — like the animals that live in the jungle.

This is the 21st-century where anything less than ‘Win-Win’ represents a total and humiliating failure of human beings to live at a higher level than members of the animal kingdom.

In our young 21st-century we are now tested to decide; Have we progressed beyond the reductive thought-processes of the animal kingdom, or are we (still) peers with them?

The great question now falls to this generation; Are we bigger and smarter than our human-made problems, or is our default solution to ‘bomb our way out’ of every problem?

Related Articles:

  • The Cassandras are warning of nuclear doom – so why doesn’t Canada seem to care? (The Globe and Mail) “Canada’s ambassador for disarmament to the United Nations and chair of the UN Disarmament Committee, Douglas Roche does not want to be Cassandra. No one wants to be Cassandra in the field of nuclear prophecy, because the thing about Cassandra is that her terrible visions came true. The other thing about Cassandra is that no one listened to her.”
  • How Did the Cold War Really End? (The New York Review of Books) “The notion that the Reagan administration was so successful in turning the military balance of power against the Soviet Union that the Kremlin leaders had no option but to change the system and seek accommodation with the United States is lacking also in historical perspective.”
  • The End of the Cold War: 1985–1991 (A book by Robert Service) “…shows how a small but skillful group of statesmen grew determined to end the Cold War on their watch and transformed the global political landscape irreversibly.”
  • North Korean Nukes and the Grand International-Relations Experiment in Asia (The Atlantic) “Let’s start with North Korea’s explanation for its missile program. It argues really that it is defensive and it doesn’t want to intimidate anyone else, except as that’s necessary for its defense. And after all, the U.S. had threatened to drop nuclear bombs on [North Korea] during the Korean War, and has implicitly or explicitly made nuclear threats in periods of tension. [U.S. Secretary of State] Tillerson has just threatened a pre-emptive strike, and while we see this only as a last-ditch defensive measure, I’m sure North Korea sees it quite differently.”
  • William Perry’s Nuclear Nightmare – Full YouTube Video 40:24 (Future of Life Institute at MIT) “Former Secretary of Defense William Perry presents his nuclear nightmare and discusses why he believes the risk of nuclear catastrophe is greater now than it was at any time during the Cold War.”
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