PSR's Prescription for North Korea: Send diplomats before you send warships
April 14, 2017
Take a chemical weapon attack in Syria, a cruise-missile strike, military exercises in South Korea, ballistic missile tests and an aircraft carrier battle group moving into striking position. Mix in threats and counter-threats from American, Russian and North Korean leaders, all of whom are nuclear-armed and consider themselves to be "larger than life." The resulting deadly cocktail has set the world on edge—and the danger is real. What's more, all this has been playing out against the backdrop of the ever-present threat that a conflict could lead to nuclear war. This is another very real danger that PSR is working to remove.
As Richard Lugar, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, said on April 11, "We cannot bomb our way to security." To ensure cool heads prevail, PSR members such as you should speak up. If your Members of Congress are holding Town Hall meetings during the Easter recess (which extends to April 25), please attend. You can search for such meetings by plugging in your zip code at this web page. Urge your U.S. Representative and Senators to steer the Trump administration away from saber-rattling and toward diplomatic solutions that hold some promise for success.
If you can't attend a Town Hall, then please consider writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper, or an op-ed. Letters-to-the-editor should respond to stories that appeared in that paper, and such stories have been prevalent lately. For tips on writing to your paper, click here.
The track record of American diplomatic efforts with North Korea is checkered at best. North Korea has repeatedly complained about very extensive annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. Perhaps the USA should consider an offer to scale back these exercises. But a fundamental stumbling block to negotiations is the spectacular double-standard that the United States employs regarding nuclear weapons. While the United States maintains an arsenal of 4,480 nuclear weapons, the U.S. rails against countries such as Iran and North Korea for having any nuclear program whatsoever. Nevertheless, the United States must redouble its diplomatic efforts to apply brakes to North Korea's nascent nuclear program.
The only comprehensive solution to keeping nuclear weapons out of "the wrong hands" is to fully eliminate them, worldwide. Fortunately, this is the very path advocated by PSR, IPPNW, ICAN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, Pope Francis, and 131 nations who favored a nuclear weapons ban treaty at the UN in March. These negotiations will reconvene in June. Read more about the ban treaty negotiations here. Consider joining the Women's March to Ban the Bomb in New York City, Saturday, June 17.
In October, 2016, PSR board member David Drake, D.O. demonstrated "how it's done." When he found himself in the same room as a diplomat from North Korea (in the First Committee conference room at UN headquarters in New York), he walked right up, introduced himself, and expressed an interest that the two countries work out their differences through peaceful means. Later, Dr. Drake indicated to me that he wanted to demonstrate that U.S. citizens don't have to hold N. Korean citizens in contempt and that physicians can serve as bridges for peace.