North Korean Crisis Offers Russia Strategic Opportunity to Repair or Destroy Relations with United States

The brutally oppressive regime of North Korea is a pariah state that exists both internally and externally by intimidation, extortion, and violence.  North Korea’s most recent tests of what appears to be a functional hydrogen bomb and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) have created an existential threat to the United States and its allies, which no longer can be ignored.  World governments will be asked to pick a side, which will have very dire consequences.  Irrespective of internal politics and national interests, those nations that side with the despotic communist regime in North Korea will be rightly viewed as evil.  However, nations seeking to improve their relations with Washington have a unique opportunity.  Russia, in particular, has the chance to move much closer with the US on the issue of North Korea.  Russia be warned though; there is equal or greater danger of losing any moral high ground and favor President Putin curries with Americans if Russia sides with North Korea.  I can’t understate the importance of this last point.

It is no mystery that elements within the American Establishment have deep interests in maintaining a state of hostile relations with Russia.  I won’t belabor the points relative to the Congressional-Military-Industrial-Complex and its need to perpetuate war for profits.  Still though, it is worth pointing out that elements within Russia also harbor archaic Cold War mindsets, which benefits neither country’s interests.  The fact is hostile and distrustful elements do exist within both the American and Russian establishments.  This is supremely counterproductive for both nations.  There is more than enough common ground relative to countering radical Islam alone to merit this conclusion.  However, with the intractable situation of increasing tensions between the US and North Korea, Russia has a unique opportunity to win major support with not only the US government, but the American people.  The cost for Russia would be little and gains significant.  In fact, Russia would commit a fool’s errand to obstruct the US in stopping Kim Jong-un.  At minimum, Russia simply needs to openly condemn North Korea and stay out the way.  At best, Russia should ally with the US on a military front.  Few things could solidify a bond between the countries better, while reducing distrust faster, than mutual military cooperation.  There is also a high likelihood that if Russia were to back the US, North Korea may indeed back away from its nuclear designs.  Russia must recognize the destabilizing effects a North Korean nuclear weapons capability will have for the world and this would only hurt Russia.  For backing the US, there certainly is diplomatic ground for rapprochement.  Further, it would clearly demonstrate to a skeptical American public that President Putin is ethical and will not blindly support horrific regimes simply to counterbalance against the US.  It would show Russia is not an enemy and is actually an ally against the dual evils of radical Islam and brutal communist regimes.

I want to reiterate the immense value of an American-Russian alliance against North Korea.  No doubt, Russia is weighing its options and places a heavy value on the influence China has on its policy.  Nonetheless, Russia and the US are far more natural allies in the post-communist era than Russia and China.  There exists a real opportunity for a reset.  Russia and the world have far more to gain by working collectively with the US than counterbalancing against it by supporting brutal regimes like North Korea and Iran.  This was disastrous during the Cold War and if allowed to redevelop, will create another generation of despotic client states that perpetuate poverty and violence.  Should Russia decide to back the North Korean dictator, the impact will be far worse than I think Russia has estimated.  Specifically, although the US media, liberal progressives, and establishment elites have worked diligently to create an anti-Russian narrative, most Americans don’t buy it.  They see it as political propaganda where Russia is blamed for purely partisan political ends.  However, should Russia openly take a hard stand against the US and back what is one of the most evil regimes in the world,  it will validate “ALL” of the anti-Russian rhetoric.  If President Putin decides that it can ignore the egregious oppression of Kim Jong-un’s regime or allies against the US on Kim’s behalf, it will typecast Russia in the minds of a new generation of Americans as the proprietor of evil, despotic regimes.  This impression will become indelible and will not be something Russian relations can recover from.  It will color every aspect of US-Russian relations and spoil any possible rapprochement between the countries as the next generation of political leadership matures in the US.

Let me be clear, both Russian and the US need to ally against North Korea.  North Korea is not a country, which can be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.  If there is any chance of avoiding a bloody war, it will be necessary for Russia to overtly take a hard stand against Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program.  This may even force China’s hand.  North Korea cannot stand against that alliance.  Further, should Russia not back the US on this issue, Russia is setting itself up to be destroyed in a later, much bigger war with the US because the hostility generated will resonate through the public sentiment of Americans and their political leadership.  Make no mistake; there are elements that already want to cast Russia in a bad light.  If Russia falls into the trap of supporting North Korea, they will by default confirm to the world the “Evil Empire” is indeed back and the full force of the US and NATO will be thrown back against Russia.  There is no way this ends well for Russia and it is completely avoidable.  I hope that President Putin proves to be the mature politician in the room and see’s beyond petty differences and the political circus.  Kim Jong-un is brutally evil.  America is not perfect, but we aren’t evil.  I do hope and pray both nations can see the opportunity created by the North Korean Crisis to join forces and reverse the deterioration in relations and stop a nuclear nightmare on the Korean Peninsula.

 

By Guiles Hendrik

September 23, 2017 

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