The gathering storm

As the good ship America sails on

Posted: February 7, 2018 at 2:47 a.m.

Dangers await on every side as this nation and her allies pursue peace, yet must risk war to assure it. Paradoxes prevail, for as soon as one door to peace opens, our adversaries rush to shut it. And they hurl the same accusation against us in this mutual name-calling contest.

To cite the most conspicuous example of this game of mirrors, relations between the two Koreas seemed to be improving as both agreed to field a common team at the Winter Olympics this month.

But that sudden outbreak of peace and amity didn't last long before North Korea's foreign minister appeared before the United Nations to denounce what he termed the "U.S. dangerous game of aggravating [the] situation in and around the Korean Peninsula and driving the whole world into a possible disaster of nuclear war." Danger, it turns out, is but the reverse side of the coin known as opportunity.

To hear North Korea's foreign minister tell it, all good things flow from the generous hand of his country's absolute ruler--the latest in the long line of Kims that have ruled his country in hereditary succession. Koreans north of the 38th Parallel are ruled not so much by a regime as by a dynasty. Foreign minister and loyal party member Ri Yong Ho attributed the "dramatic turning point" toward peace and stability on the much contested Korean peninsula to his beloved leader Kim Jong Un as athletes from both countries marched side by side into the Olympic games.

But the minister soon discarded his rose-colored glasses in favor of the usual braggadocio that North Korean diplomats issue by the ream. And this time those boasts are backed up by their country's increasingly formidable arsenal of nuclear warheads atop ballistic missiles. Pyongyang's claim that its nuclear weapons can reach the American mainland grow increasingly credible with every test of those weapons.

As if in tandem, the foreign minister's threats have been matched and raised by this country's president, for the Hon. Donald J. Trump can bluster as well as the next strutting leader. Voices of reason and moderation in this exchange have become as rare as they are welcome. One of those voices is that of South Korea's president Moon Jae-in, who's described the Winter Olympic games as an opportunity to build new bridges between North and South Korea after a long history of tension and devastating wars on the peninsula. He's worth listening to as wise men and women in both countries hope for the best but must prepare for the worst.

Or is the North's dictatorship only using its improved ties with the South these better days to drive a wedge between the Americans and our South Korean allies? In the massive exchange of propaganda barrages, it's not always easy to tell just where the truth lies.

While there's still time for peace on Earth, good will toward men tends not to last long when those goals are assaulted on all sides. But keep the good thought and, better yet, let it lead to right action. Peace, it's wonderful. But it can be fleeting if it's not sought as ardently as some seek war.

Editorial on 02/07/2018