Trump and the Korea tension, where is the United Nations?
Gabriel C Banda
WHERE has the United Nations been during high tension between United States president Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un administration?
President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un have engaged in harsh verbal attacks that troubled many in the world and threatened to escalate into armed conflict.
Even with Trump’s threats of “fire and fury,” the North Korea administration was fearless and went ahead with controversial nuclear and missile tests. Not being feared by those he regarded as lower than him further annoyed Trump, who poured further threats, his Twitter a workshop of his foul words. Trump’s words invoked annoyance from Kim Jong Un.
Of course, nuclear tests are bad for the world as, besides tensions among governments, the tests affect us all, inhabitants of this earth, and threaten the harmony of the earth and environment. One part affected affects the whole earth, which is one and whole.
Governments should not be doing nuclear tests. Governments and any one else should not have atomic and nuclear weapons, whatever size they may be.
For decades, North Korea has felt threatened by the presence of USA forces targeting the North. There have also been the US-South Korea-Japan military exercises the North felt provoked, targeted, and uncomfortable about.
The recent North Korea Nuclear and missile tests and the effect they had on Trump became means the North Korea government wielded some strength for bargaining against possible negative actions against its government.
We must remember that Koreans have the painful memory of American forces 1950s attacks on North Korea, where many were killed by means considered against international laws and ethics of armed combat. That memory they would not like repeated, thus Kim standing up to Trump.
The Koreans and Chinese also have memories of war-time Japan’s treatment of their citizens.
We must also remember that recent military actions by US administrations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have made some governments, such as the North Korea one, fear regime change and killing of their leaders.
Targeted and threatened administrations have lost faith in United States administrations not engaging in unilateral violent regime change on governments they have differences with. Some threatened governments have thus prepared to go down fighting rather than being lambs at slaughter.
The tensions involving Trump and Kim Jong Un have been of concern to many in the world. Many issues and lessons arise from the Trump and Kim Jong Un tension. Key is the role of the United Nations.
Also key is the continued aggression by United Nations members on governments they do not like. How are tensions and conflicts settled in the world? Who has authority to settle conflict? And what does the United Nations do when member states take it upon themselves to attack others and change regimes?
The United Nations was developed as humanity’s good action to not only stop wars, but put an end to the practice of inter-state wars. It is supposed to have mechanisms and institutions for settling inter-state conflict and other conflict that may lead to armed confrontation.
The United Nations would work at settling conflict that threatened to be armed. The savage practice of individual governments being judges and armed executioners in disputes they were involved in would end. Yet the unilateral actions by governments towards others have still continued. There were recent actions in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
UN and Libya
In Libya, the United Nations system was unfairly used, through some shaky resolutions, to impose some sanctions and other actions that provided the shield for the government of France and others to do regime change against the Muammar Gaddafi government they were against.
In Libya, the United Nations system was abused. Nothing has happened to the France warlord Nicolas Sarkozy, who led the invasion of Libya and actions leading to the killing of ruler Muammar Gaddafi and genocidal actions against Black Africans in Libya.
Sometimes the United Nations systems and institutions are not even used. Some UN members have tried to justify their arbitrary armed intervention and regime change by quoting need for dealing with a humanitarian situation people in a country have been facing.
They have painted and stigmatised other rulers as pariahs, dictators, “regime,” and ruthless. They have accused opponents of crimes against humanity or using, or having, weapons of mass destruction. Using these brushes, they have tried to remove governments by force.
Humanitarian Interest, Attacks
We note that the excuse of humanitarian interest, as happened recently in the missile strikes against the Syria government by the US, UK, and France triad, does not excuse the need for applying Just War principles. The humanitarian factor is only one part of Just War principles we were reflecting on in our Peace Studies programme at University of Bradford.
The United Nations organisation, or secretariat, has sometimes been observer when member states are abusing others and the principles of the United Nations itself.
Some member governments have used the United Nations system to impose unfair sanctions against states they are against.
In Libya, the United Nations organisation, through proclaimed sanctions and resolutions, was used by opponents to disarm and attack the Gaddafi administration.
These are experiences that some governments, like that of North Korea and Syria, have tried to avoid. They have tried to be firm and also to defend themselves. Meanwhile, the United Nations watches as member states prepare war against other member states and even attack them.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, complained about the preparation of attack by USA, UK, and France regimes on Syria on accusation on use of chemical weapons. But the raids went ahead.
The international investigation on chemical weapons accusations were not even started before the three regimes launched their attack on points in Syria. This was similar to what happened in Iraq in 2003, where the accusations of weapons of mass destruction were later known to be false or fake.
Sadly, I wondered what whether US forces would have gone ahead in bombing the Saddam Hussein administration if United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and his team had withdrawn their staff who were doing some checks. I then believed that the USA would not have bombed Iraq had the UN not moved out of Iraq.
So the United Nations is abused and sidelined when some governments want to attack others they do not like.
Trump not UN
Donald Trump’s bullying leads to reversed effect. Donald Trump is not the United Nations. The Trump spirit has no authority to threaten and attack other states. Some persons may fear that Trump may take extreme action outside the United States when he is faced by pressure of storms around his personality and presidency.
The United Nations need to be firm and not allow members to disturb the purpose and principles of the United Nations.
Left to themselves, the governments of North Korean and South Korea, formerly one nation, are more accommodating of each other. They realise that armed conflict would be dangerous for both North and South. External interests keep them apart and in conflict. Unlike Trump, South Korea’s Moon Jae-In is less hostile to Kim and North Korea. Moon seems friendly and understanding of the North Koreans.
The recent arrangement of a historical meeting, April 27 2018, of North and South rulers Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in, preceded by actions of cooperation towards each other, are example of what the United Nations should have been helping achieve in Korea relations.
If not threatened, North Korea has no benefit in attacking the United States. Kim reacts strongly because of the threats from Trump. It appears Kim has threatened attacking the USA if about to be attacked because the stance may guarantee him some shield against armed regime change.
And China was being blamed by Trump for being soft on North Korea yet China, but Trump and Trump-speak, caused the tension and accelerated nuclear and missile tests.
Of course, there is the suspicion that America benefits from tension with North Korea as that enables the USA to have military forces in the region. The forces may not be to mark North Korea, but to mark China. China is against the US military presence in the area and may be sympathetic to the worries of North Korea.
Prevent United Nations
Some states prevent the United Nations from doing its work. Whether it is US, Russia, France, UK, or North Korea, the United Nations should openly and firmly speak on members that threaten other members and act against the principles of the United Nations.
Some crude remarks by Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, have not helped international relations on North Korea and Syria.
Also, the American government is not in a position to force others to disarm their nukes because the USA itself has nuclear weapons and is not dismantling them. Neutral parties and systems are needed in helping to settle disputes like nuclear and others.
The United States is one of the parties in conflict in the Koreas and should not be expected to put international sanctions and arbitrarily apply armed force on others.
The United Nations should have been leading in dealing with conflict involving North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. The UN should have been leading on disputes in Syria. The United Nations should be in the lead on settling international conflict and enabling member states work together on various activities for the common humanity.
GCB, LUSAKA, October 2017, April 2018