August 8, 2018

RYAN MITCHELL: The Realist Case for a Korean Peace Treaty.

If North Korea’s ruling class can only be convinced of their existential safety by a peace treaty, then that is a precondition for any lasting and verifiable denuclearization process. Given that the regime has quite reasonably cited examples such as the Libyan intervention to explain its reluctance for disarmament, it seems obvious that it will not be convinced to pursue “greatness” via economic development (as Trump has recommended) until its basic safety is guaranteed.

A peace treaty with the United States, already long overdue, would be the basic existential guarantee that North Korea needs in order to begin turning into a “normal country”—i.e. one that is motivated on a day-to-day basis by normal greed and self-aggrandizement, not by a desperate struggle to survive amidst a (perceived) life-or-death state of exception. Much of the bizarre and militaristic character of the regime, though partially attributable to its dynasty of paranoid dictators, can also be ascribed to the threats and isolation that have made invasion and regime change a continuously perceived threat for decades.

How much of the hostility between the United States and North Korea is due solely to the fact that they have no mutually acknowledged, formal legal relationship aside from that of belligerents in what will soon be a seventy-year-long war? Given that the regime has been willing to flout the international “rule of law” as to its nuclear weapons development and other activities (from cyber-attacks to assassinations), can it really put so much faith in the legal protection from invasion that states are afforded by UN Charter Article 2?

The fact that North Korea has for its guarantor a world power we don’t want to go to war with, ought to be all the assurance Pyongyang needs in its continued existence.

Or as I quipped the other day: Know nukes, no peace. No nukes, know peace.

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