One of the most irritating hemorrhoids on the geopolitical posterior that the last four US Presidents have had to deal with is North Korea and its nuclear program. In fact, the problem goes way back to the Korean war itself. It is a good example of how lose ends come back to bite us. The fact that there was never a Peace Treaty negotiated has only prolonged the conflict from a hot war to a cold war and now a warm war. A good reminder to all of us to tie up our loose ends. The longer you wait to sew that tear in your shirt the worse it will become and the harder to fix. Such is the case with North Korea.
The real danger here is the proliferation of Nuclear weapons in the future. I’m sure the North Korean generals know that even though they possess a thermo-nuclear weapon, the likelihood of them actually deploying it is slim. Sure, they could do lots of damage to South Korean, Japan, Guam or even the US, but at what cost? They get one strike and then they are gone permanently. Setting your country up to be annihilated is not a very wise offensive strategy. So, they rightly concluded it’s better to use the weapons as a form of extortion than actually deploy them.
The more the noose is tightened around North Korea, the more desperate and likely they become to sell their nuclear technology. What happens when ISIS or Al-Qaeda get their hands on these weapons? You can see that not dealing with the problem now increases the likelihood of small but frequent nuclear attacks from rogue nations and terrorist groups in the future. This is one loose end that needs to be tied up quickly. It seems like there is no more road left to kick the can down.
During the transition, I’m sure President Obama let President-elect Trump know that North Korea was now his biggest problem. Not only that but to get anything resolved he would need the help of China and probably Russia. Hence, when President Trump went to China, he very cleverly framed the problem as China’s problem. He told President Xi, “this is your problem, it’s in your neighbor and you need to deal with it or I will”. The Chinese hate to lose face. Almost immediately the Chinese (and Russians) did not veto UN sanctions and the North Korean dictator was summoned to Beijing. There are lots of naysayers who are predicting the whole thing is a trap. I’m sure the diplomats from the State Department and the CIA are well aware of that possibility. But who’s to say they are smarter than us?
It could just be that with China now tightening the noose, the North Korean generals have told Kim Jong Un that the situation is unsustainable. Food and fuel are in short supply and even if a war breaks out, their soldiers will not be able to fight for long and their military equipment will be useless without sufficient fuel. But then again, yes, they could be playing a game to get some sanction relief as they have done in the past. If so, what comes next?
So just maybe, this movement is one of the fruits of our celebration of the Centenary of Our Lady of Fatima? I’m hopeful. After all we faithfully consecrated ourselves, our families and our Diocese to Our Lady of Fatima, heeded her call to prayer and penance to avoid any more chastisements like we saw in WWI and II and with the spread of communism. Part of the promises of Fatima included a period of peace. So, let’s all continue to pray for peace, pray for our President and his negotiating team that this loose end can be resolved for the good of our world and the peace of the Korean people.
Remember the Bible is full of stories of unexpected resolutions of hopeless situations coming from the most unlikely sources: Gideon, Judith, the Maccabees, Esther. On this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s ask our Holy Mother, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima to guide this process so that it will be infused with God’s grace and that all of us and especially the people of North Korea will come to know her maternal love for all her children.
Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Love, Fr. John B.
Join with me next Sunday at the 11am Mass as I celebrate my 30th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood!