The whole world is watching – and scared.
It’s been a long time since nuclear war seemed like such a real possibility. What is desperately needed in these tense days is thoughtful and mature leadership and diplomacy; not bombast and threats.
But Kim Jung Un and President Trump see each other as unguided missiles. Both are triggered by fear and domestic politics, by macho and bluster. They talk louder and louder and make less and less sense, endangering the human race in their weaponized game of chicken. It is hard to control or contain “fire and fury.” A sudden shift in the wind can spread the flames to the house next door, sparking a conflagration, “like the world has never seen.”
Our nations are afraid of each other, haunted by a war that officially ended 64 years ago.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when North Korea supported by the former Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea which was being supported by the United States. Nearly five million people died during this war and more than half of these deaths were civilians. The rate of civilian casualties was higher than Vietnam or WWII.
In July 1953, North and South Korea signed an armistice establishing the DMZ (Demilitarized zone). The DMZ divides the Korean peninsula roughly in half at the 38th parallel.
The 38th parallel is a stark reminder of how a beautiful country can be divided and filled with sorrow, anger and suffering. The DMZ has kept family members and friends apart for more than six decades. This heartbreaking situation of separation and division has brought endless tears, anger and anguish.
The threat of war has existed since the signing of the armistice. Presently, there is mandatory military service for all South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35.
The US testing of THAAD missile defense system has been met with protests from South Koreans. The U.S. military presence in South Korea is not helping the peace process but it is rather intensifying the tensions between South and North Korea and is feeding this cycle of fear.
We are afraid of them every time North Korea fires off another missile and its leader boasts of his nation’s powers of destruction. They are afraid of what we are capable of. They and the rest of the world know that we invaded and leveled Iraq based on the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
The United Nations must immediately convene North Korea and the United States, along with South Korea, China and Japan around a common table to cool the rhetoric and lessen the tension. We need to work towards reconciliation and not continue in this mad march to the edge of unimaginable destruction.