One Problem Too Many
A watershed event occurred on July 4, America’s Independence Day. Other big headlines quickly buried it, but think back. That day, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il got in on the fireworks action and launched seven missiles of his own, including one long-range Taepodong-2 rocket.
Though Kim’s rockets didn’t match the beauty of America’s nighttime pyrotechnics, his skyline display made a much bigger impression. Beyond alarming U.S. officials on a national holiday, North Korea’s strategically timed missile launch will have a defining impact on America’s global image.
There’s little doubt that U.S. officials were relieved when North Korea’s 9,300-mile-range Taepodong-2 missile fell from the sky only 42 seconds after it was launched. But that doesn’t change this unsavory fact: Kim launching these missiles, even while facing massive pressure from America over his nuclear program, reveals a clear lack of fear and respect for U.S. power.
North Korea’s fireworks display tested not only the quality of the nation’s rockets, but also the willpower of America. And you can be sure the rest of the world—including the likes of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban—was measuring America’s response carefully.
A History of Concessions
America’s history of dealing with North Korea’s nuclear ambition includes much fruitless negotiation and concession. Over the years, this cycle has only helped Pyongyang’s nuclear interests.
In July, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “Kim [was] at it again because his previous provocations have typically been rewarded” (July 6). North Korea has a track record of muttering nuclear threats and launching missiles, then being rewarded with concessions and aid by the United States.
This trend can be traced back to 1994, when the Clinton administration responded to Kim’s nuclear threats through an Agreed Framework that offered Pyongyang aid and the promise of nuclear energy plants. It became evident in 2002 that this deal had failed when Kim gave UN inspectors the boot and announced he had a secret nuclear program.
In 1998, when Kim launched a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan, America tried to negotiate a deal similar to the 1994 nuclear agreement. “As part of the deal … the U.S. would launch North Korean satellites in return for North Korea’s pledge to stop developing long-range missiles” (ibid.). Washington’s track record of negotiation and compromise with North Korea is embarrassing!
America has spent over a decade sitting at the North Korean negotiating table, and what does it have to show for the effort? A rogue country bold enough to test almost its whole missile arsenal in total defiance of the U.S.!
So how did America respond this time? After the missile tests in July, the U.S. chose to “[pass] the baton to Japan, letting Tokyo take the initial lead in the international arena” (Stratfor, July 7). Tokyo drafted a resolution and took the matter to the UN Security Council. Fellow UN Security Council members Russia and China opposed it for being too harsh. Thus, on July 15, the Council passed a compromised resolution condemning North Korea’s missile tests and demanding it suspend its ballistic missile program. The resolution includes no mention of sanctions (though it forbids the exchange of missile and nuclear material and technology) and contains no allowance for the use of force.
Despite all the hoopla surrounding its preparation, this resolution amounts to little more than ink on a page. North Korea strongly rejected it within an hour! The sheer ineptitude of the UN was yet again underscored. A pipsqueak nation, governed by a petty dictator, suffers no real consequences for posing an overt military threat.
The best this resolution could do was call for the resumption of the three-year six-party talks (between North Korea and China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S.) concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear program—talks that North Korea has boycotted since last November to protest U.S. sanctions.
“The United States still wants to resolve the impasse through dialogue,” reported a South Korean official after meeting with U.S. officials in Washington (Japan Economic Newswire, July 19).
In essence, there has been no meaningful response to North Korea’s July rocket launch. Efforts simply have been renewed to keep treading the same course that has already been taken—the very course that led to North Korea launching its missiles.
With Pyongyang steadfastly refusing to come to the table for six-party talks, America’s next big move has been to threaten to have five-party talks, leaving North Korea out. South Korea and the U.S. agreed July 18 that “five-way talks without North Korea would be the best alternative to the six-way talks, boycotted by the North …” (Korea Herald, July 19). This situation would be humorous if it wasn’t so condemning of the lack of effective American and UN leadership.
Five big powers, including the world’s most powerful nation, are now sitting around trying to agree on the best way to entice little old North Korea back to the negotiating table.
Stratfor comments that North Korea is unlikely to want to deal with the present U.S. administration, but is rather quite willing to wait until a change of presidency to resume talks. “In the meantime, North Korea has apparently gained Chinese assurances of security, and Russian, Chinese and South Korean assurances of financial assistance. And regardless of whether these talks resume, North Korea has gained international attention and opened the path to diplomatic initiatives from around the globe. Ultimately, the more belligerent North Korea’s rhetoric, the more other nations seek to placate the restless rogue” (July 18, emphasis mine).
A victory for North Korea indeed. And that’s not counting the success of the actual missile tests. “For North Korea,” says Stratfor, “the July 5 [which was July 4 in the U.S.] tests may very well have been the most important day in its missile program …. The tests will allow Pyongyang to gauge the effectiveness of improvements in its missile design and technology. … Pyongyang has now tested the bulk of its most modern short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. As far as we know, all of them worked (the long-range Taepodong aside), and North Korea’s military is now scrutinizing telemetry data tests and making further refinements” (July 7).
Now North Korea has the opportunity to forsake (temporarily) its “right” to test missiles in order to gain political or economic concessions. And so the cycle of appeasing diplomacy continues.
Both the UN and the U.S. are simply confirming growing world opinion that they lack the fortitude and willpower to stand up to belligerent countries—even North Korea.
Exposing American Weakness
Consider the situation. Geographically, North Korea is smaller than the state of Mississippi; its economic destitution is on par with Zimbabwe. It would thus logically follow that such a seeming non-entity on the global scene would carry about as much geopolitical influence as the Chukotskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug province in Russia. The only reason North Korea garners more international recognition than Comoros or Senegal is that it is governed by a madman (or so he would have us believe) with aspirations for nuclear weapons.
In terms of power, there is no comparison between North Korea and America. It just doesn’t make sense that this seemingly irrelevant nuisance should be causing the world’s greatest military power so much trouble. The fact that the U.S. cannot solve this dilemma highlights the nation’s broken willpower and subsequent inability to harness its awesome offensive power to solve serious crises.
The U.S. possesses the physical components needed to resolve this crisis by a sheer demonstration of its defensive power. It simply fails to demonstrate the political will to use it. America’s stalemate on the North Korea issue is a direct result of weak leadership.
The crisis in North Korea is a flashing billboard advertising the weakness of American foreign policy!
It would be easy to underestimate the significance of the geopolitical melee raging between America and North Korea. Compared to what’s unraveling in Lebanon, Iraq or Iran, North Korea seems less pressing. But this problem has everything to do with America’s interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The North Korea nuclear crisis is being carefully observed around the world. Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, the Taliban—all such who are hostile to U.S. intentions—are watching to see if the American government is prepared to add real meaning to its rhetoric by supporting it with decisive action. Each is witness to American impotence in dealing with North Korea.
By massaging North Korea with diplomacy and a meaningless UN resolution, both the UN and Washington are advertising their dearth of willpower and abject lack of motivation to deal forcefully and decisively with an enemy.
By relying on Japan and allowing itself to be shoved around by Russia, China and South Korea in its negotiations with North Korea, the U.S. is showing that it is totally unprepared, unwilling and incapable of standing up to Kim Jong Il and his arsenal of rockets.
America’s history of concessions to North Korea is not only emboldening Kim Jong Il, it is empowering the leaders of anti-American and terrorist states and organizations around the world.
This crisis is about more than developing weapons that can deliver a nuclear payload. Over the years, Kim Jong Il has systematically helped in the progressive weakening of America’s reputation as a respectable and feared superpower.
Expect the U.S. to continue to deal indecisively and inconclusively with North Korea. All the while—as is the case with Iran—North Korea will take advantage of U.S. inaction, gain further concessions and continue building weapons and manufacturing nuclear material.
As the Trumpet has forecast, it is also highly likely that America will increasingly turn the problem over to Pyongyang’s neighbors in Japan, China and South Korea. These nations are also concerned (to various extents) with North Korea’s weapons and nuclear program and are likely to welcome Washington’s reliance on them to manage their roguish neighbor.
Thus, America will not only grow more distant from Asian politics, but it will also dress Beijing and Tokyo with more power and influence in the region and internationally. Bible prophecy tells us that in the coming months and years, the entirety of Asia will pull together behind the leadership of the region’s most influential states.
To many, America’s inability to harness its unmatched power and remove the threat that Kim Jong Il poses is unexplainable. The U.S. certainly doesn’t lack the military strength to defend itself against a well-armed and well-equipped Kim Jong Il. It’s illogical. How is this happening?
The explanation is found in a Bible prophecy that tells us that America’s will to use its power is being destroyed. The prophecy in Leviticus 26:19 reads, “And I will break the pride of your power…” Read this entire chapter, which is often called the blessings and cursings chapter. We should be living in the midst of God’s abundant blessings. Instead, our personal and national sins are causing us to be cursed by the living God!
Our broken will is one of those curses!
What a curse to have a broken will in a world increasingly impacted by dangerous, dictatorial leaders. We simply will not survive unless the problem is corrected.
Read, in the preceding verses of Leviticus 26, about the national sins of America. Then you will see why God has broken the pride of our power, or our national will. The U.S. is a major part of end-time Israel (a truth you can prove scripturally by reading our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
The U.S. gained its freedom and greatness through the bloodshed and courage of its forefathers. When this nation was established it was grounded on many biblical laws and principles and was thus much blessed. The gradual loss of the influence of those biblical laws and principles within American society has led to that nation doubting its once significant moral authority. Freedom cannot be sustained by sinful cowards. America’s enemies are at the door, and they are seeing the national pride and willpower of this once great nation deteriorate.
In the case of North Korea, they are already putting us to the test!
The further we get from God, the more cowardly we become. The closer we are to God, the more we manifest the courage to face our enemies and rely on God to fight our battles for us. The only way America can avoid catastrophe is if it restores its relations with God and His laws.
The sobering fact is that our increasing rebellion against the authority of our God has led to a dramatic breaking of America’s national will to resist those who seek to destroy it and all it has stood for throughout its brief history. Only God can heal this deep national wound.
Read our free booklet Character in Crisis to learn how this traditionally freedom-loving nation will finally have its faith in God restored so it will again reap, in even greater amount than before, the massive blessings that come from obeying the one true God.