Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Linton P. Gordon | When madmen run the asylum

Published:Tuesday | August 15, 2017 | 8:00 AM
Linton Gordon
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
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The current barrage of verbal exchanges between the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the president of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, is part of a long, miserable and contentious relationship between both countries.

The acrimony can be traced back to 1952 when at the end of the Korean War, the North and South were partitioned.

South Korea, supported by the United States and Japan in the main, developed into a democratic country with a modern and sophisticated industrial sector. North Korea, on the other hand, has always been backed and supported by the communist bloc, primarily Russia and China. North Korea has always maintained that it needs a modern and sophisticated army to defend itself against the US and its allies.

There was a serious confrontation between North Korea and the US in January 1968. On this occasion, a naval intelligence ship owned by the US and bearing the name USS Pueblo was chased, fired at, captured and seized by North Korea. The ship was taken to a navy base in North Korea, where it was taken over and the 83-man crew treated as prisoners of war. They were tied up and blindfolded, then imprisoned.

North Korea maintained that the Pueblo had violated its territory by entering its waters. The USA vehemently denied the claim. There were widespread calls in the US for President Lyndon Johnson to send a flotilla of ships to North Korea rescue the crew of the Pueblo and take the ship home. This was during the height of the Cold War and at a time when the US was heavily involved in the Vietnamese War.

 

Violated territorial waters

 

President Johnson wisely opted for negotiations, and after a period of about one year, the captain of the Pueblo signed a confession admitting that his ship had violated the territorial waters of North Korea. The ship and crew were then released.

We now have in the White House a president of the United States who has declared that his weapons have been made ready and he has threatened to inflict a level of destruction on North Korea "that the world has never ever seen before". The most devastating destruction 'that the world has ever seen' was the use of the atomic bomb by the United States against Japan back in 1945. We must therefore take it to mean that the president of the United States is threatening to use nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. This is not only unbelievable, but it is also frightening.

Any use of nuclear weapons will cause massive destruction of the environment and the deaths of hundreds, if not millions, of citizens. The reality of the Korean situation is that North Korea shares a border with China and with Russia. Should the United States fire a nuclear weapon into North Korea and it crosses the border into China and into the Soviet Union, will we see a retaliation from these nuclear-armed countries?

We should also bear in mind that in response to an attack on it, North Korea may fire missiles at United States military personnel based in Japan, in South Korea, and in Guam. They may even make an effort at firing nuclear weapons at mainland United States, in particular, Alaska.

A nuclear war is not an option. Both President Trump and President Kim are behaving like schoolboys threatening to use their toys against one another. World leaders, including our prime minister, need to speak up and express their objection to any use of nuclear weapons.

They should also prevail on the two egotistic presidents to drop the war-making rhetoric and find a way to resolve their differences without threatening the world, and Asia, in particular, with nuclear devastation.

- Linton P. Gordon is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and lpgordon@cwjamaica.com.