The upcoming Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, offer a unique moment to de-escalate tensions and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. High-level talks between North Korea and South Korea are planned. This moment is of utmost importance after months of escalatory rhetoric and threats between the U.S. and North Korea, two nuclear armed nations, which put the world in danger.
War Prevention Initiative Executive Director Patrick Hiller stated: “As conflict resolution professionals, we always look for openings in intractable conflicts such as this one. We must remember that the Korean War officially never ended and that all events are taking place in the context of a 1953 Armistice. A permanent peace treaty, reconciliation and unification of a divided country certainly are long-term aspirations. Realistically though, we need to understand conflict in its context and at its different stages of escalation. Last year, due to the exchange of threats between President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, we witnessed a highly escalated conflict short of war. Any small step away from the brink of war deserves support from all nations and civil society. At the same time, we need to hold realistic expectations of the outcomes. We should not expect grand concessions, like North Korea suddenly halting its nuclear weapons program. We should allow Koreans to talk about their issues, (re)develop channels of communication, and support any agreement no matter how small it is. Then, based on what we know about successful diplomacy, sustained dialog and agreements on future issues are more likely. This is a Korean issue, perhaps it is best for the U.S. to take a back seat, making support for continued diplomacy between the two countries clear.”
The War Prevention Initiative strongly supports the proposed talks between North Korea and South Korea. Tweeted support from President Trump is helpful, but fragile. We have impulsive leaders in North Korea and the U.S., who could attempt to derail the entire efforts with a single belligerent statement/tweet. It is therefore important for peace advocacy groups, but also the American public in general, to voice their support for diplomacy over war. Patrick Hiller stated: “A nuclear war is unwinnable. Diplomacy, however, reduces immediate tensions and opens pathways for long-term improvements such as a North Korean nuclear freeze, the suspension of military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea, the official end of the Korean war, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region, and long-term reconciliation efforts between the two nations. This is not wishful thinking, these are the results of hard, often messy, diplomacy.”
The War Prevention Initiative informs and educates about viable alternatives to war and violence.
For further comment or questions, please contact Patrick Hiller, War Prevention Initiative’s Executive Director at patrick[at]jubitz.org or 503 505-5721.