August 9, 2017; Portland, OR
Reports suggest that North Korea has advanced its nuclear ambitions with the production of a nuclear warhead designed to fit inside its missiles. President Trump threatened North Korea with “fury and fire like the world has never seen”. North Korea, in turn, responded that it was considering strikes on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
We are witnessing a very dangerous pattern of conflict escalation through moves and countermoves by two nuclear armed leaders whose legitimate power rests upon their strong-man talk and actions. In this pattern, a move by one must be answered with a stronger countermove by the other. This is unacceptable to Americans, North Koreans and humanity. The War Prevention Initiative strongly argues that there is no military solution to the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and that all sectors of society need to disrupt the escalation and insist on talks.
War Prevention Initiative Executive Director Patrick Hiller stated: “Even though we are experiencing a highly polarized political environment, the American public is not stupid. They know enough now about the many alternatives to the possibility of a nuclear war; they have seen how strong diplomatic efforts like in the Iran Nuclear Deal pay off; and they know that a nuclear war is unwinnable. We know from research that there is a proven decline in support for war when the alternatives come to light but we are certainly not hearing them from the current administration. It is essential that this information gets out and is spread widely. Resting our hope in cooler heads (the ‘adults in the room’) prevailing in the current administration is rather naïve. We cannot rest upon a false belief that we’re just observing a round of theatrical threats by two mad men.” The War Prevention Initiative strongly supports the civil society initiatives, educational efforts, and nonviolent mobilization by groups like Global Zero, Win Without War or CodePink. Grassroots education and mobilization needs to inform and encourage action among political elites, the business community, the media, faith communities, funders, and others. This crisis transcends any one sector or political party.
Threatening “fury and fire” is dangerous. Instead of publicly threatening and debating different war scenarios, pre-emptive strikes, and other military measures – all of which might lead to a catastrophic war – we need to relentlessly discuss and implement continued nonviolent approaches to address the conflict on the Korean Peninsula. We support the set of urgent recommendations released by the Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group (http://bit.ly/NCGreport), emphasizing the immediate steps of refraining from nuclear threats and provocative military action. Additional steps include:
• Talk with North Korea without preconditions
• Engagement with the adversary through multiple levels of diplomacy.
• Move away from the tit-for-tat mentality and towards problem-solving approaches through recognition and respect, even in an adversarial relationship.
• Reference and implement the difficult but successful diplomatic strategies (e.g. Iran Nuclear Agreement)
• Engage conflict resolution experts in policy-making and the media.
• Acknowledge the fears and the need for security in all parties involved.
• Initiate citizen-diplomacy efforts to humanize “the other”.
These options represent some of the initial steps toward de-escalation. They can build the basis for necessary long-term diplomatic processes.
The War Prevention Initiative informs and educates about viable alternatives to war and violence.
For further comment or questions, please contact Patrick Hiller, War Prevention Initiative’s Executive Director at email@example.com .
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Conflict Resolution Program
Portland State University