Why America and North Korea aren’t so different after all
Have you heard the news? Apparently, we’re heading towards impending nuclear war. Variations of the story lead most nightly news bulletins and it’s hard to get through a few scrolls of the ol’ FB feed without seeing some mention of this supposed ‘World War 3’. If you’re like me and have used Team America as your main educational source on the matter, these international relations may seem a bit of a mystery. Forgoing my usual research method of meme perusal, I decided to investigate the dichotomous nature of these two ‘Superpowers’ during my morning commute. While both heads of state, President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un II, would have you believe they’re Marvel-grade arch nemeses, their tyrannical leadership styles and divisive policies are worryingly similar. Is it time we held a couple of mirrors up to these ‘bad boys’?
“You know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero.”
What’s the sitch
The relationship between the two countries has really fired up over the past month as North Korea continues to defy the international community’s calls for the disarmament of their nuclear weapons program. Since September last year, North K have launched ten nuclear weapons with the intent to manufacture a ballistic nuclear missile that could reach North America. Yes, it is truly as terrifying as it sounds. As the ex-director of the CIA, Michael Hayden put it so eloquently, “Before the end of President Trump’s current term, the North Koreans will probably be able to reach Seattle with an…intercontinental ballistic missile.” It’s not looking good for Seattle. Trump’s Administration is now proposing to fight fire with fire with an all-out military attack if Trump and Jong Un II cannot ‘sit down’ and come to an agreement. Australia isn’t out of the firing line either. If we don’t break our allegiance with the United States it could be R.I.P Darwin. Australia subscribes to the internationally shared view that North Korea should disarm their weapons and has supported the advancement of US Navy ships into the South China sea. This has been met with vocal opposition from Jong Un II who sees Australia’s strategic power and position within Asia as a threat to his dictatorship.
It’s a convoluted and messy political landscape with no resolution in sight. However, Trump’s willingness to engage the might of the US military as part of his so-called ‘diplomatic’ strategy in the Korean Peninsula is not a one-off event, just look at his response in Syria. Previous US Presidents have preferred to use diplomatic channels like the UN, enforce economic sanctions and ‘chastise’ in the hope of preserving somewhat stable international relations. Upholding these international legal principles have previously been seen as essential to international peace and security. While many have praised Trump for taking a stand against the regime, his irrationality and dismissal of accepted international rules have led him to be called into question as leader of the free world and even likened to Kim Jong Un.
Leading the (wrong) way?
You can’t deny it, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un II are two world leaders who both appear as unstable leaders to the rest of the international community. Regardless of their opposing systems of governance, the seemingly irrational, yet enthusiastic desire of both leaders to pull the trigger on all-out nuclear war in the name of nationalism cannot be ignored. Even in Trump’s own Government, two Congressman have put forward legislation to block Trump’s ability to engage in a first-use nuclear strike without war first being declared by Congress. Just to clarify, for the first time ever, Congress do not trust their elected President to have the final say on nuclear activities. How about that for a vote of confidence. The Doomsday Clock (100% a real thing), which tells us how close we are to destroying civilisation from cool things like nuclear war, climate change and ‘irreversible harm’ ticked forward 30 seconds when Trump was elected. We are now only two and half minutes away from destroying humanity. Bet you don’t feel like procreating now.
“The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.” – Science and Security Board
Military: Priority One
Beyond Trump and Jong Un II, America and North Korea both prioritise their militaries over their people. While the US has one of the most powerful and all-encompassing militaries in the world, North Korea isn’t far behind. Military spending by the US exceeded more than $596 billion in 2015 and North Korea spends around 22% of its GDP on military operations, the equivalent of $10 billion. However, both countries prioritise their militaries at the expense of their people. America and North Korea have limited social services and while North Korea has a larger percentage of their population starving and living in poverty, America is not far behind. Trump has already dismantled Obamacare, America’s first chance at universal healthcare on the proviso that it constitutes “government overreach”, leaving the elderly, sick and poor with limited healthcare options. Trump’s xenophobic and bigoted immigration policies have effectively closed their borders, and his dismantling of free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and then North American Free Trade Area follows his protectionist and nationalist ideology. We’re beginning to see both an ideological and somatic shift which isolates America from the international community. Seems reminiscent of a certain “Democratic People’s Republic” hey?
Regardless of your political stance, Trump’s election catapulted the world into an unstable and volatile geopolitical landscape. Both Trump and Jong Un II are leaders who favour hyperbole and irrationality over reason, relishing the chance to flex their respective industrialised military might. Without any formal channels of negotiation, these two leaders are left with their dicks in their hands and their fingers on the trigger. One may be leading the free world and the other a rogue state, but they’re both leading us into a future of uncertainty.