Korea, the Danger of Trump Talk
Gabriel C Banda
TRUMP Talk or Trump Speak is threat to discussions and settlements on Korea. Trump Speak and Trump style are potential threats to parties getting to reach settlement over conflict in Korea.
Trump Talk, coming from Donald Trump and team members, affects the possibility of direct dialogue taking place. And if dialogue does happen, they also can affect the content of the discussion. Trump Talk affects outcomes.
The April 27, 2018 historic meeting of Korea’s North and South rulers Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, was pleasing to many in the world. Taking place at Panmunjom, on the South Korea side, here was chance for North and South to improve relations of this area, which arises from one people divided in 1945 by the actions of external forces. They are ethnically, historically, and geographically one people.
Many of us in various parts of the world observed there was friendliness and goodwill between the two parties. Truly North and South were one divided people and they could still be one people, border or no border between them. Moon Jae-in had recently, in 2017, won elections with an attitude of reaching out to North Korea. Now, they pledged to work together on Korea’s issues and move towards peace.
As demonstrated recently at the Panmunjom meeting, left to themselves, the Korean rulers, North and South, are able to come to some settlement. The presence of external forces are big shapers of Korean relations.
The result of the Panmunjom meeting was also a chance for North Korea and USA, which is allied to South Korea or is in some ways the South’s godparent, to deal with their tensions.
Perhaps through facilitation by Moon Jae-in, a historic meeting was scheduled for USA and North Korea rulers, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Moon Jae-in has been a good facilitator. We do not know if Moon Jae-in has been influenced by the social teaching and anti-war stances of his Catholic faith following.
Knowing the Other
Our hope was that the planned Trump-Kim meeting would first be about knowing each other at a personal level, actions which help to de-stigmatise the other parties. Such Know Your Opponent meeting need not immediately involve strong demands on the other. Such meeting, or series of meetings, should instead help build a relationship and confidence in each other.
The planned first Trump-Kim meeting that was welcomed by many in the world is now threatened by Trump Speak. For many days now, one has been concerned that the Trump spirit may lead to disruption of process and progress over Korea.
One is concerned that some approaches that have had negative effects on others, even American citizens, may be used in delicate situations like that of Korea. We are concerned about Trump and team’s speeches and comments.
Trump Talk will affect the result and achievement of the attempt to meet parties in conflict over Korea. Trump Talk can affect the direction of relationships of parties involved over Korea.
Some aggressive, rude, insulting, intimidating, demeaning, insensitive, or harsh remarks by Trump and team members may evoke responses that will throw away the window that recently opened through the direct talks of North Korea and South Korea’s rulers.
Rough or tough talk that has come from the spirit of Trump, in Tweet or other platforms, will here be counter-productive. Trump has been belligerent in both tone of delivery and word content. Trump Speak vexes many at home and abroad, Americans and non-Americans.
Some remarks of his have been insensitive to others, under-rating others. He has taken actions whose effects on others, and him self, seem not to have been considered.
He seems not to realise or consider or care that some speeches, comments, and actions may have negative and profound effects on others and himself. He has unleashed things he cannot control. Yet these things unleashed, released, may destabilise the world and the integrity of life.
Through his speech and actions, Donald Trump has invoked actions that have unleashed negative results that are difficult to control and undo.
Trump sends messages that Force and Threat are currents to use. He may think about rough strategic moves rather than opening up to work with someone he must respect.
Over Korea, a key problem is that Trump and supporters are broadcasting that his method of toughness and threats have led to North Korea’s Kim accepting to go to the negotiating table.
That position, perhaps welcome to his fans, actually poses problems for potential talks. In fact, the reality may not have been that Trump’s tough or rough approach compelled Kim, but that Kim’s standing up to Trump through unrepentant missile and nuke tests, tests that damage our world, may have, using the law of the jungle, made Trump be careful about Kim and North Korea.
So, the reverse may have played a part, not that Kim feared Trump, but that Trump was influenced to negotiation by the challenge Kim made through nuclear technology development and missile tests.
In the jungle, the bully pushes around others it considers weak but yields to and leaves alone those who stand up to the bully.
Force and Violence
The use of threats and force creates many problems. Believing that they work, those who use them begin to make it a habit to do so. And those who are threatened begin to either yield to threats or instead build their capacities for force so that they reach a strong point where the bullies do not threaten them. As in the story of David and Goliath in scriptures, a bully cannot forever intimidate other human beings.
Often, aggression, force, and violence beget violence. Some persons respond well when the other party is polite and respecting and not bullying or disrespectful. Some persons may comply with being pushed around but will later, when strong, squarely face the bully. There is often reversed effect in the method of strong and aggressive approaches.
Some parties do not want to appear to have been forced into agreement. They want to get into dialogue and settlement of a situation through their own choice and commitment, not because they had been threatened.
The more Trump and team give the impression that they are pushing Kim about the more it will be difficult to have the talks happen or, when they take place, reach a good result.
The boasts and threats of Trump and team may make others think that they should use threats and force to get others into agreement.
The method of threat and sanctions may not have worked on Kim. From evidence, Kim does not have fear of Donald Trump. While Trump may bully other rulers, and even fellow American citizens, Kim stands up to Trump.
As we have noted before, USA regimes’ actions for regime change over Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have led to distrust of USA positions towards some rulers and administrations.
On Korea, there is also the painful experience of the killing, by American forces, of huge numbers of people during the Korea war of the early 1950s.
No Super Power
Now, the United Nations Organisation and international community, pledged to settling conflict, building peace, and avoiding war, have promoted dialogue based on respect and Goodwill towards fellow human beings, even when in conflict with them. It is inappropriate to treat some as lesser than others. Due to the nature of life, there can not exist an eternal super-power in the world.
Perhaps Trump feels uneasy when things are about to harmonise, so he gets some compulsion to say or do something to disturb the emerging potential peace. Perhaps the Trump spirit finds mission in rough speak that disturbs the path towards settlement and peace. The spirit of Trump Speak can be threat to settling Korea.
It seems some habit of Donald Trump, and sometimes some members of his team, to openly disrespect some persons. Trump Speak often vexes other. His words can be demeaning and insulting to other persons and groups. Some people feel Trump is trampling on them.
With some local storms coming at him from many fronts and shaking his presidency, Donald Trump may turn and divert the attention towards external events like Korea.
There are cultural issues to be learnt. There are issues of the culture of negotiation itself. And the cultural backgrounds of parties involved may affect their attitudes and practices during negotiation and discussion. In some cultures, the one who shows tolerance, patience, and maturity comes out a respected person.
Like violence and force beget violence, threat begets tough responses. People respond well to those who respect them. In some cultures, many persons will do good business with those who show respect and politeness.
In some cultures, the one who threatens others gets declined credibility. One who appears not to be in control of them self is considered not well prepared. One who keeps cool is considered in control, respectable, and admirable. You are respected for being very humane, not being bully.
In some cultures, threatening other parties is considered disrespectful. For good outcomes, there is need to understand the cultures of other parties and be very sensitive to them. There is need to understand the basic humanness that seeks, across all cultures, respect and dignity.
Fire and Fury disturb
Interstate relations should be influenced by what is fair and truth for all, not how big the weapon one has acquired and trailed on others. Boasting about how big and destructive your weapon is is not honour. In some cultures and situations, fire and fury disturb dialogue. Fire and fury can burn many.
Some talk and actions may lead to instability that negatively affects all of us, members of the human family and the earth, all over the world, including the United States.
Although we belong to various states and jurisdictions, the essential fact that is paramount is that we are human beings belonging to a common life whose cooperation is beyond human-made borders. Trump is a member of the world and is not the judge and executioner of the world.
In talks, threat, toughness, and roughness may have reversed effect and disturb possible success. For progress, one must show respect to others before talks, during the talks, and after talks. It is possible for Trump and team to train themselves not to threaten others through the Trump kind of talk or tweet.
So, yes Folks, there are threats, there are potential dangers Folks, in the Trump spirit’s words and tweets. Yes, Folks, Donald Trump’s talk can disturb the reaching of settlements and peace in conflicts like that in Korea.
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The Author has been on the MA Peace Studies programme, University of Bradford.
- GCB, April/May 2018, LUSAKA.
–**This piece was a general concern done many days before North Korea’s officials cancelled a planned session with the South Korea administration and before threats by US officials about a Libya Model.