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Letters

Relax military threats against North Korea

On Friday, protesters in South Korea call on US Secretary of State John Kerry to start peace talks with North Korea.

Associated Press

On Friday, protesters in South Korea call on US Secretary of State John Kerry to start peace talks with North Korea.

THE FIRST step to solving a problem is often to stop making it worse. This applies to the military tensions with North Korea.

South Korea and the United States, which dwarf the North in terms of military, economic, and political power, have been conducting massive annual war games explicitly acknowledged as preparations for regime change or collapse in the North. It was in this context that the United States flew simulated nuclear bombing runs with B-2 and B-52 bombers, and moved F-22 fighter jets to South Korea, moves that generated North Korea’s stated resolve to remain a nuclear weapons state and its threats against South Korea, Guam, and the continental United States.

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As former US ambassador to Korea Donald Gregg and others have warned, military threats won’t lead Pyongyang to retire its nuclear arsenal.

Fortunately, with the United States and the two Koreas finding themselves at the precipice of an unintended war, the Obama administration announced it is backing off its “playbook” of escalating military pressure on North Korea.

We need more such restraint and direct diplomacy between the United States and North Korea. Attempting to put fires out with gasoline is anything but a safe or successful strategy.

Joseph Gerson

Director, Peace and
Economic Security Program

American Friends
Service Committee

Cambridge

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