Heading for a collision course?If Trump’s decision to abandon Victor Cha’s nomination to be the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea was because of the Georgetown professor’s disagreement with the hawks in the White House to enact a “bloody-nose” strategy on North Korea, the Korean Peninsula could well be headed into a disaster. This is despite Cha getting approval from the Moon Jae-in administration.
In the meantime, the Moon administration’s overly low-profile — and pitifully submissive — approach toward North Korea, particularly ahead of the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, would definitely be seen as “pandering to the recalcitrant state” by hardliners in Washington,
The liberal South Korean government will most likely be put on a “destined” collision course in the coming months as Trump will further push North Korean leader Kim Jong-un into a corner through annual joint drills.
These drills were delayed until after the Games following Seoul’s solicitations for inter-Korean talks to hopefully pave a way for dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.
After carefully weighing whether it would violate U.S. unilateral sanctions on North Korea, the Trump administration made a last-minute approval on Wednesday of a South Korean chartered flight to North Korea for a joint ski training on the sidelines during the Olympics. This testifies to widening schisms in the decades-old alliance between South Korea and the United States since the two administrations started last year.
I hope that the Moon Jae-in administration navigates these tough waters ahead very carefully.
*A Seoul resident