America vs. North Korea: Can a Brutal War be Avoided?

    Daniel L. Davis

    Security, Asia

    Time is on our side, not on Kim Jong-un’s.

    For logical and traceable reasons, the chances of war on the Korean peninsula have moved beyond “possible” and now solidly into “likely” territory. The combined actions, decisions, and positions of Presidents George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump, along with North Korean dictators Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un, have perversely created a no-win situation in which war may now be unavoidable––a tragic and avoidable situation for which hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans, South Koreas, and Japanese may pay with their lives.

    With the adoption of a rational policy, however, American security can be assured, and war avoided.

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    The seeds of today’s crisis were planted in October 1994 when newly installed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il signed the Agreed Framework with the Clinton Administration. North Korea pledged to cease construction of nuclear reactors suspected of fueling a nuclear weapons program in exchange for the U.S. funding two light-water reactors that could not be used to produce material for a nuclear bomb. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were required to certify North Korea’s implementation.

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    Kim initially complied with the agreement and in 1997 met with representatives of South Korea and the U.S., continuing what Secretary of State Madeline Albright termed “this historic process.”  Soon thereafter, however, evidence began to accumulate that Pyongyang was secretly establishing a weapons program and impeding IAEA inspectors. Even Clinton’s patience started to run out, and in March 2000 he reported to Congress that he could not certify North Korea was not violating the Agreed Framework by secretly pursuing a weapons program.

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