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Cautious Hope for North Korean Talks

Cautious Hope for North Korean Talks

Kim Jong Un of North Korea seen here speaking in front of the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces. | (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)

Trust a tyrant? Not so much. Just because the evil dictator Kim Jong-un decides to extend an olive branch, doesn't mean he'll do anything honest. Why should he? Some suggest that his willingness to talk is a calculated distraction ploy. While we hope for a new agreement, he's making moves behind our backs. Makes sense.

We'd do well to remember that "negotiations" don't mean the same to a rogue regime. It's just another warfare strategy. If North Korea can stall long enough with "negotiations" they can gain strategic advantage.

A bit of history helps here. North Korea has routinely initiated aggressions across the DMZ. Back in 1968, when I was a kid, I remember the bold headline: USS Pueblo seized by NK. Our vessel was operating in international waters. President Johnson made an offensive move dispatching an offshore carrier strike group.

Suddenly, NK wanted to talk about returning the Pueblo. Once they agreed to talk, we removed the "force." Talks stalled. Guess what? The Pueblo is still moored in North Korea.

USS Pueblo Seized | Washington Post Archives/Google

A year later in 1969, North Korea wanted to talk again, but the next day they killed 31 Americans when they shot down an unarmed US plane over the Sea of Japan. Then they wanted to talk again. Four days after "talks" began, we lost an American helicopter when NK forces shot it out of the sky.

I was just old enough to vote when Jimmy Carter became president. NK loved Jimmy—who suggested unilateral withdrawal from Korea. It didn't take long for NK to show their aggression towards Japan. Peace is not their goal—power is.

We fool ourselves to imagine NK views an agreement like we do. When President George H.W. Bush removed American nuclear missiles in South Korea in exchange for North Korea's denuclearization, we were fooled. Again.

How about President Clinton offering billions of dollars to NK so they'd end their illegal nuclear efforts? Nothing like cash to see what real motives are. No, it didn't work out like we hoped. As "talks" continued, NK launched a missile over Japan. Not quite the signal of agreement Clinton's group wanted to see.

President Trump has sanctioned North Korea to an extent no other president has ever done. It's not surprising they're wanting to "talk." But NK has never abided by any agreement so far. Trump says our hope should be cautious. He's right about that.