I don’t much like our president. That’s no secret.
But, I do favor peace. I support ending old animosities and preventing unnecessary conflict, and any initiatives to bring prosperity and freedom to the oppressed.
For that reason, I applaud our president for his efforts to open dialogue with Kim Jong-un. I pray our nations achieve peace and prosperity for all Koreans. Regardless of our political differences, we should be able to rally around a peaceful end to the Korean War.
On that note, I’d like to speak for a moment to my friends on the left. My friends on the right (yes, I have plenty) may want to skip to the end.
Here’s the deal. I’m opposed to this president’s treatment of women; complicity with racism, sexism and Islamophobia; discrimination against LGBTQ people; alienation of our allies; demonization of the press and truth in general; policies that vilify and abandon the most vulnerable Americans; mockery of the handicapped; dismantling of sensible environmental policies for the benefit of corporate greed; duplicitous twisting of the Christian faith for political gain; callous human rights violations on the border; and his unrepentant aversion to any discernible measure of integrity.
All that said — and it needs to be said — we should never ignore good when we see it, especially when that good represents a change of course for the better.
Not long ago I wrote a column excoriating the president for threatening war in a “mine’s bigger than yours” ego exchange with Kim Jong-un. This week, those same leaders sat down and reached an agreement to de-escalate America’s military presence and denuclearize the peninsula. It is an amazing turnaround with the potential for peace and an improvement of conditions for the Korean people, on both sides of the DMZ.
Of course, the details are murky and there remains the possibility one side or the other will back out. Kim’s not known for sticking to a deal. And the United States, of late, has earned a reputation for breaking its own promises (here’s looking at you, Iran and pretty much every ally we’ve ever had). So, none of us should be surprised if this new detente goes the way of, I dunno, the Iran nuclear deal.
But — still talking to you, friends on the left — should we hope for the failure of peace, just to spite the president? I’ve thought long and hard on this, and here’s my answer: No, that would be petty and stupid.
We shouldn’t sink to blindly opposing policy based on party or our own lockstep allegiance to ideology. That’s small-minded, injurious to our republic and is the same complaint the left has been waging against the right since Reagan was still acting alongside Bonzo. Yet, I’ve seen many on the left taking dubious angles to decry the summit and the prospects for peace.
Some complain we’ve gotten a bad deal (using Trump’s own language), because we’ve given up easily resumed military maneuvers for the possibility of denuclearization and averting a war that would likely kill millions. Yes, that deal is incredibly imbalanced — in favor of our national interests, peace and humanity in general.
Others raise legitimate concerns about North Korea’s worse-than-abysmal human rights record. Please consider two things: how many North Koreans (and South Koreans and Americans) would die in a war along the DMZ; and six decades of sanctions have left the North Korean people starving and isolated, while doing naught to amend their government. In China, Vietnam and many other nations, economic and social engagement have proven far more effective than military force at lifting oppressed people into the light of peaceful prosperity. Perhaps it’s time to give diplomacy a legitimate chance.
There are many reasons for us to have concerns about North Korea and Kim Jong-un. There are many causes for concern in our own nation, and with our own president. And, when we see wrongs being committed, we have a duty to speak up, to seek redress and demand accountability.
But (and this is the part where my friends on the right may want to come back in), if President Trump can foster peace and open the door to more prosperity and freedom (or maybe just adequate food and medicine) for the North Koreans, then by God we should be behind that effort.
We have plenty of other areas where we can go at each others’ throats along party lines. Pursuing peace should not be one of them.