Prof. Yenshu Emmanuel, Political Sociologist, University of Buea.
What is the significance of the forthcoming summit between the American President and North Korean leader?
The American leader wants to continue what the West has done since the end of the Cold War - persuade former Communist countries to dismantle their nuclear arsenals and reduce military spending, only for the regimes to be destroyed like in the case of Libya under Col. Muammar Gadaffi. However, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, are becoming smarter than President Donald Trump.
Remember, the same subterfuge was used by the West in Iraq by getting Saddam Hussein to denuclearize, and then the country was attacked. All this is one long Western strategy to maintain the balance of power in the Middle East in its favour. It is a question of “America first” and transforming the new world order to America’s leaning. It is in the interest of Koreans to have their unity first before negotiating denuclearization with America. A united Korea will be bigger and stronger, just like Germany today. East Germany and West Germany brought into their reunification in 1990 strengths from the ideological past, which is good for the country. The same thing can happen to North Korea and South Korea.
What are the possible outcomes of this summit and their impact on regional peace and stability?
This is politics at international level, and politics is a game of interests. By seeking to limit the number of countries with nuclear weapons to its friends, America wants to maintain its position as the world’s leading power. Remember, nuclear weapons are rarely used, but they serve as deterrence. As the talks get underway, it will be in the interest of North Korea and South Korea to discuss the nuclear issue alongside their unity.
In this way, the nuclear arsenal can be for dissuasion while the reunited country pursues a policy of peaceful nuclear development for power generation and other purposes. But if North Korea negotiates with America directly, they will be the losers as the US is going to bring the same pressure to bear on her like it did to Iran. Stability in the Korean Peninsula will only come about if North Korea and South Korea pool together their resources as a united country and agree on a democratic nation acceptable to the two peoples. Until now, South Korea has been under American military protection without much of its own military defence. If the two countries unite, South Korea can benefit from North Korea’s military might; while the North will gain from the South’s wealth, science and technology, and industrial prowess.
Will Kim Jong-un give up his nuclear weapons at America’s insistence?
I am not sure he will accept to do so. If the two Koreas unite, North Korea’s military capability will be a great asset and America will be assured that its ally is in control of such weapons. But the choice should be entirely that of North Korea’s, in consultation with South Korea – not the result of American pressure.
What are the chances of America lifting sanctions on North Korea after the summit?
Sanctions are part of the politics of bullying. What right does a country have to impose sanctions on another? This is immoral and against international law.
Everyone is now jostling to talk to Kim Jong-un. After Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinz? Abe also wants to meet him…
It is because he has proved to be a very powerful broker with his nuclear weapons. But Kim Jong-un should not allow himself to be deceived like Col. Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Rather, he should use his powerful bargaining position to negotiate unity with South Korea. I don’t see any future for an isolated North Korea, especially as individual Koreans want unity. The two countries last February sent a joint team to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Sooner or later, the stronger element will draw to itself the weaker element and unity will take place naturally amongst Koreans - not as a Western ploy.
How do you see the future of the Korean Peninsula?
I see a united Korea and the collapse of the Communist regime in North Korea not long from now. It cannot survive. I see the Korean Peninsula having a big nation that will add to the concert of big powers. This could be a new economic and nuclear power called Korea – no more North Korea or South Korea - just like Germany reunited in 1990.