President Ronald Reagan once said, “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” His words ring true today in regards to North Korea’s apparent lack of understanding toward President Donald Trump’s choice not to relax or give in to demands that are only beneficial to the Korean elite. Over the past 20 years, North Korea has issued their fair share of sanctions and accepted incentive packages in agreement to cease the development of their nuclear program. Each time, they have breached and violated those agreements.
Interestingly, people are blaming Trump for our lack of relationship with North Korea. The president’s opposition has painted Trump’s aggressive rhetoric, including the phrase “we are ready to respond with fire and fury” should North Korea choose to make a move toward the United States, as threating, non-presidential and childish. On the other hand, conservatives largely view it as a good change of pace and more beneficial to our country to no longer cave into North Korea’s demands and instead put our foot down and stand up for ourselves and for freedom.
Our relations over nuclear capabilities with North Korea goes back to 1994 when President Bill Clinton signed an agreement stating North Korea would dismantle its reactors, so long as it would receive financial compensation. Soon this agreement dissolved due to North Korea disobeying the regulations that were set. Years later, President George H.W. Bush labeled North Korea a part of the “axis of evil.”
Since 1994 a behavioral pattern between the two countries seems to have arisen. Each time an agreement is made to halt nuclear development in North Korea, it has been breached, and yet the U.S continues to provide the county aid for its so-called “cooperation.”
In 2007, we witnessed one of the largest amounts of money granted in exchange for disarmament when North Korea was given $400 million for shutting down its nuclear reactors. When that failed, sanctions were imposed in 2009, 2013 and 2017. Over time, many agreements and sanctions were signed, but North Korea remained consistent in not upholding its side of the deal.
Now, North Korea has proudly conducted its 6th nuclear test by dropping a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful explosion it has carried out to this day. The country has also fired missiles toward Japan, and continue boasting about its supposed “superior” military. Trump has chosen to respond verbally, instead of writing a check and rolling over like past presidents have. Did our past presidents feel supplying aid was their only option? Did they feel they were helping with the humanitarian crisis that, despite their efforts, is still going on today? It seems people think North Korea is a small country that the U.S cannot or should not respond to, but the truth is North Korea is a bully, both internationally and to its own people.
In the end, it is up to each individual to decide who they think is in the wrong in this situation; however, if blame falls on Trump, then it also falls on all past presidents. They all had separate encounters with North Korea, but dealt with the problem in the same way by either imposing sanctions or providing North Korea with economic incentives. To blame Trump, in this situation, is to be completely unaware of past relations with North Korea.
– Katelyn Moriarty is a political science sophomore