The president has successfully made just about every thinking person’s head turn with his relentless campaign of angry rhetoric against North Korea, but former President Jimmy Carter, who remains beloved by large portions of the American population, has a solution.
A South Korean newspaper reported Carter wants to visit North Korea and meet with the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, to de-escalate the ongoing feud between the North Korean and American governments. This feud has many interests preparing for full-out military conflict between the two powers.
The paper in question bases its reporting on comments from a Georgia university professor. Park Han-shik, who teaches international affairs at the University of Georgia, says that he visited Carter at his Georgia home on September 28.
Based on his conversations with the former president and active human rights advocate, Park says as follows:
‘Carter wants to meet with the North Korean leader and play a constructive role for peace on the Korean Peninsula as he did in 1994. Should former President Carter be able to visit North Korea, he would like to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and discuss a peace treaty between the United States and the North and a complete denuclearization of North Korea and contribute toward establishing a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.’
It’s certainly not clear that the North Koreans would be interested in completely winding down their nuclear program. It is worth noting that the Iranians were successfully compelled to slash their nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions. So there is hope here, at least when comparing the situation surrounding North Korea to that surrounding Iran.
North Korea has been slapped with successive rounds of sanctions, so the West, whether our interests are represented by Carter or anyone else, does have that fact as leverage. The president, for his part, has claimed that only “one thing” will work in dealing with North Korea, and the implication is that he means he’s entertaining the idea of direct military action against the country.
The North Koreans will no doubt continue to respond to the president’s threats by increasing their own military capabilities, keeping a cycle in motion that is a threat to all of us.
Carter traveled to North Korea, as Park mentioned, in 1994 to diffuse the nuclear crisis that was unfolding at the time. That crisis had gotten to such a point that the U.S. military “drew up plans to strike a nuclear reactor in Yongbyon,” but the former president was successful in reaching “a deal with then-leader Kim Il Sung for North Korea to freeze its nuclear program.”
The leader that Carter met with died a month or so later, and a lasting framework for peaceful relations was agreed to by the two countries within a few months after that. Park, who has himself traveled to North Korea numerous times, helped arrange Carter’s visit to the country.
The White House does not seem to have responded to this offer from Carter — yet, at least.
Featured image via Rick Diamond/Getty Images.