President-elect Biden and DPRK Policy
Mr. Biden’s remarks
U.S. President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (Joe Biden) said in a televised debate with Mr. Trump on October 22 that "What has he (Mr. Trump) done? He’s legitimized North Korea (which has gone on to develop nuclear weapons)" and that "He embraces guys like the thugs, like in North Korea." Furthermore, he criticized Mr. Trump's dialogue-oriented DPRK policy, stating that "We had a good relationship with Hitler before he, in fact, invaded Europe", bearing in mind the European countries' policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany. He then proposed "He (Mr. Kim Jong-un) would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity" as a condition for meeting with Mr. Kim Jong-un and that the Korean Peninsula should be made a nuclear-free zone.
Mr. Biden is not only critical of Mr. Trump's policies toward DPRK, but he also likens Mr. Kim to Hitler as a "bad guy". It reminds us of President George W. Bush who labeled DPRK and other countries as "axis of evil". Mr. Kim would react to it, and it will likely bring tensions between the U.S. and DPRK.
Mr. Trump stressed that "North Korea was a mess (left by former President Obama)". Unlike Obama's fear of a nuclear war to break out, he says "there’s no war" and that he had three summit meetings with Mr. Kim Jong-un to build good relations and avoided millions of deaths.
I highly appreciate Mr. Trump's policy toward DPRK, aside from his other policies. This is because he has not only avoided a "hot war" on the Korean peninsula, but he has also promoted appeasement between the U.S. and DPRK. Although that appeasement has now stalled, it does not erase Mr. Trump's achievements.
Mr. Biden seems to be spoiling this achievements. He demands DPRK to "lower its nuclear capabilities" but says at the same time that the U.S. will maintain its own nuclear deterrent, and says nothing about the “nuclear umbrella” for Japan and ROK. This would result in Mr. Kim’s worsened feelings toward the U.S. and resumption of experiments of nukes and long-range missiles, rather than him to "agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity". Thus, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will be a long way off.
I do not believe that Mr. Biden has the will or ability to bring about denuclearization or peace on the Korean Peninsula. He was President Obama's vice president, but he is silent on the subject of a "nuclear-free world.’’ In the first place, it seems as if he does not have the will to bring about a "world without nuclear weapons."
From now on, the (much older) "Sleepy Joe" replaces the "Crazy Old Man" and will provoke the "Little Rocket Man," and the Japanese government and the media will re-enflame the idea of "DPRK’s threat" with the same agenda. People will hate DPRK (and ROK, for that matter), hand over their freedoms for their safety, and narrow-minded patriotism will prevail. The security environment in Northeast Asia will deteriorate, constitutional amendments will be insisted, and preparations for "hot war" will be further advanced. Submission to the U.S. who gives a “nuclear umbrella” will be maximized. Such a nightmare must not be allowed to come true.
By the way, DPRK has developed and experimented nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that it is a threat to us. It was Mr. Trump who tried to eliminate that threat. In fact, DPRK has stopped its nuclear experiments. Mr. Trump has done what previous presidents, Bush, Clinton, and Obama failed to do. As long as the "trust" between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim continued, we would not have to fear DPRK's use of nuclear weapons. The American people, the people in the Korean peninsula, and we were all about to be spared the "nuclear conflagration." In addition, there was no need to worry about the unwarranted assaults on Koreans who reside in Japan that could be expected during a war. Mr. Biden is saying that he will stop this policy of dialogue-oriented appeasement. It will reignite the danger of nuclear war. In my opinion, that is a "bad guy."
DPRK has been under the threat of an American nuclear attack
At the time of the Korean War, which began in 1950, MacArthur was planning a nuclear attack on DPRK. The idea was that if he dropped 30 to 50 atomic bombs on the neck of Manchuria, he would win the war within 10 days, and that this would "eliminate the possibility of invasion of Korea from the north for at least 60 years."（※1）
In April 1951, a bomb with a nuclear warhead was sent to Okinawa.（※2）
Although it was never used, DPRK narrowly escaped from nuclear annihilation. Furthermore, in 1953, an armistice was signed, but four years later, in 1957, the U.S. violated the armistice by bringing nuclear warhead bombs, mines and missiles to U.S. military bases in ROK. 1991, when the nuclear weapons had been withdrawn from ROK, the U.S. military continued to conduct long-range missile exercises targeting DPRK. In February 2017, Mr. Trump ordered the creation of a pre-emptive strike plan against DPRK, and in October of that year, a simulation using bombers was conducted.（※3）
DPRK has been subjected to the threats that include U.S. nuclear strikes, for the last 70 years.
It is "not surprising" that DPRK has resorted to nuclear "deterrence" in order to counter the threat.（※4）
The choice of DPRK is not unreasonable, given that Iraq and Libya, which did not have nuclear weapons, were dismantled by the U.S.
We should not ignore the fact that it is the United States that made the nuclear threats first and continues to do so. If the U.S. says that DPRK's nuclear weapons and missiles are a threat, then it just needs to stop its policy of hostility to DPRK. DPRK relies on nuclear weapons because it is afraid of being overthrown by the U.S. Everyone knows that the U.S. has used its force to overthrow regimes it doesn't like around the world. What the U.S. should do is to assure DPRK that it will not do that. It is out of line for Mr. Biden to call Mr. Kim a "bad guy".
From "Armistice Agreement" to "Peace Treaty"
Ukeru Magosaki introduces Kissinger's words, "It is the job of U.S. diplomacy to create a framework within which no conflict involves the question of national survival," and applies this to relations with DPRK by saying that this means creating a "peace treaty" in which "neither side will use force against the other."（※5）
It is a proposal to turn the Korean War armistice into a peace treaty. I agree with this opinion. DPRK has wanted this, but the U.S. has not because it is more convenient for its international relations, domestic governance, and money making if there are "rogues" and "bad guys" like Iran and DPRK. The same is true for the Japanese government. The presence of a "national crisis" by DPRK gives it a reason to strengthen its internal security system and military power and makes the defense industry happy.
In the first place, the U.S. probably doesn't like the "Kim dynasty" itself, whether or not DPRK has nuclear weapons or missiles. This is because it does not cringe to the U.S. On the other hand, Mr. Kim would rather die all together than have his life taken away. Kissinger is proposing a "framework within which no conflict involves the question of national survival," to avoid such a situation, supposedly. I hope that a person like him is in Mr. Biden's staffs.
I would like DPRK to abandon its nuclear weapons and missiles. But I don't believe that threatening DPRK or imposing sanctions on it will be effective, because reality tells us that it is ineffective. In the first place, it is naive to think that threats will move people. DPRK has its land and government. About 25,155,000 people live there (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2015). Acknowledging this fact, establishing relations between the states as equals as envisioned by the UN Charter, and continuing persistent negotiations will be the way to fundamentally resolve the problem. Unfortunately, Mr. Biden does not seem to think so.
But I dare to say that I have high hopes for him. The “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" is not only to say, but to achieve it. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula means not only the elimination of DPRK's nuclear weapons, but also the elimination of the U.S. nuclear umbrella over Japan and ROK. And it should include a declaration by the United States of no first use of nuclear weapons against DPRK and a declaration that it will not use nuclear weapons against use of non-nuclear weapons. That is something that only the United States can do.
I hope that Mr. Biden will recall his former boss, President Obama’s remarks in Prague "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it,” for his work as a president.
The testimonies of the Hibakusha make it clear what the use of nuclear weapons can do. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was established in light of the "unacceptable suffering and damage" of Hibakusha. Mr. Biden may be hostile to the treaty, but he should at least learn the truth about the use of nuclear weapons. I would like him to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and listen to the voices of Hibakusha from around the world. And then I would like him to reconsider his own view of nuclear weapons.
It would be a fitting final task for Mr. Biden, who will be the oldest president ever to take office.
Notes on November 13, 2020
※1 By Joseph Gerson. “Empires and the Bomb”
※2 Shoji Niihara says that the date of the introduction of nuclear weapons into Okinawa is 1953 (“50 years of bringing nuclear weapons into Japan”). Teppei Matsuoka agrees with this view (“Okinawa and Nuclear”). “The True Nature of the Korean War” by Ukeru Magosaki p.178 cites “How the Korean War Almost Went Nuclear" by Carl A.
Posey, published in Air & Space Magazine in July 2015, and presents the date of the introduction as April 1951. Mr. Magosaki quotes Gavan McCormack, who asserts that nuclear warheads and other weapons were brought to the U.S. bases in Korea in 1957, not in 1953. I referred to this as I wrote this text.
※3 "Operation Nosebleed." "The True Nature of the Korean War" by Ukeru Magosaki, p. 241
※4 Gavan McCormack, From p. 240 in the foregoing article by Magosaki.
※5 The foregoing article by Magosaki p. 245.