Watching the movie, The Interview, a fictional comedy in which the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, agrees to be interviewed by an American dummy like myself, reminded me of an assignment we were given in War College. We were tasked with the following question: If you were the combatant commander of the Pacific (our military leader in charge of Pacific forces), what advice would you give the President?
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson
I advocated that we give China the world prestige it both desires and deserves by shifting the region’s stabilization role to the Chinese, recommended removal of our combat forces in South Korea, and, believing that our Grand Strategy is best served by shrinking the footprint of our forces on foreign soil, argued it was time to diminish our role as the world’s policeman, shift the eagle’s talon from arrow to olive branch, and resume the noble cause of our great nation.
“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” – George Washington
Watching the movie resurged some of my old feelings, caused my nagging spidey sense to tingle, and now I offer Kim Jong-un my Interview questions:
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln
- Your grandfather, Kim Il-sung, led the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Your father, Kim Jong-il, was General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea. Your family’s vision, as I have heard it, has always been the unification of the Korean people, One Nation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. As a man living over here in the Democratic People’s Republic of America (we called it the United States), I wonder – are you willing to embrace a true Democratic Republic in Korea, a government of the people, determined by the people, working for the people? Is this the “Democratic Republic” you envision, or is it something else?
- With 49 million people south of the DMZ and only 24 million north, a “united” Democratic Republic of Korea would presumably look more like South Korea than North Korea. Is this agreeable? Would you be willing to recognize Seoul as the capital of a united Korea if that’s what the people wanted?
- George Washington, the first leader of our budding Democratic Republic, declined the opportunity to become its Supreme Leader, refused the temptation to be President indefinitely, and instead, chose to give up power. He recognized that his Vision precluded his Rule, and for that, We chiseled his likeness into a mountain and celebrate his birthday. Are you willing to do likewise? If the US were to remove all forces from Korea, would you, recognizing that a Democratic Republic is incongruent with an authoritarian family dynasty, leave politics altogether and cede power to the people?
- If the armistice and demilitarized zone from your grandfather’s day were today taken to the next logical step, if the UN Security Council recognized a united nation of Korea, assuring both its sovereignty and security, if lifted sanctions were coupled with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear inspections, if united Korea was welcomed into the fold of peace-seeking nations on this planet, would you support UN monitored elections and remove yourself as a potential candidate for election?
Sometimes, when I look at our world, I wonder if the solution sits right in front of us.
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – Colin Powell