John Delury, an associate professor of Chinese studies in Seoul, just said something that I’ve been thinking of for days. Donald Trump should start that burger diplomacy he once talked of with Ki Jong Un. This is the time for the US to negotiate for the future with North Korea. This is the time for Mr Trump to, in his words, do a deal, a good deal, a great deal. It would be a Nixon-in-China moment. It would be brilliant. And more to the point, it would be the right thing to do.
Why? Well, it’s obvious that there is no “military solution” to North Korea. As Mr Delury writes in The Washington Post, “There is no way to hit North Korea without being hit back harder. There is no military means to ‘preempt’ its capabilities — nuclear and otherwise — with a ‘surgical’ strike. Any use of force to degrade its weapons program would start a war, the costs of which would be staggering.”
The human costs of a war would include its effects on:
** the 10 million people who live in Seoul, within North Korean artillery and short-range missile range
** roughly 140,000 US citizens in South Korea and Japan
The economic effects would be felt by, as Mr Delury points out, Incheon International Airport, one of Asia’s busiest airports, or Busan, the sixth-largest container port in the world.
The consequences of war would be truly terrible and even Mr Trump, who has seemed unwise and ignorant in the extreme, would surely not want it.
So what can he do?
Bring North Korea in from the cold.
Mr Kim will not consent to give up his missiles and nuclear weapons for fear that he will end up like Saddam Hussain or Muammar Gaddafi. But he would probably be willing to suspend testing if the US started to talk turkey – in terms of growth and opportunity without threatening regime-change.
Mr Delury advises the following: “The prudent move would be to open direct talks with Pyongyang that start by negotiating a freeze on the fissile-material production cycle, return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, and moratorium on testing nuclear devices and long-range ballistic missiles (including satellite launches).”
Bring on the burgers and fries.