Just like the tragic sinking of the Cheonan that claimed 46 Korean sailors’ lives, North Korea seems to be under the delusion that they can get away with their latest blatant and inhuman provocation.
This time, it was an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, which not only killed Korean soldiers, but killed civilians and destroyed their homes as well.
North Korea, once again, claimed that South Korea initiated the attack, a major miscalculation on their part because nobody believes their claims. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
North Korea does not seem to realize that even their longtime ally China has grown weary of the criticism from the international community regarding North Korea’s repeated provocations. There have been unofficial discussions among some members of the Chinese Communist Party over whether it is worth continually defending North Korea.
This seems like a golden opportunity to create a chasm between those two countries. Not a single other country would take North Korea’s side; even Taiwan and Russia have condemned them, and Israel made a strong statement that “the crazy regime of North Korea should be brought down.”
Although China stopped just short of their own condemnation of North Korea, they stated that they are seriously concerned about the current tragic situation. The international community seems to support South Korea’s military actions as an act of self-defense allowed by international law, making North Korea look even worse.
As the chair of the G20 Seoul Summit, South Korea has shown that they can be leaders on a global stage, giving them credence amongst other major nations. The South should not allow this golden opportunity to raise its stature slip away.
However, there do not seem to be any satisfactory forms of retaliation. South Korea should avoid the outdated and passive types of sanctions, like reuniting separated families or stopping the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. But what would be the crucial blow?
The first action should be for South Korea to file an official resolution to the U.N. Security Council condemning North Korea and requesting immediate retaliation. It seems obvious that their indiscriminate murder of civilians is a clear violation of the U.N. charter and the armistice treaty.
This is exactly the kind of job that the Security Council was created for. This is the time for the council, criticized for their ineffectiveness, to show their leadership to the world.
After pressing the Security Council, South Korea (with the support of the U.S.) should take all-out sanctions against North Korea. This means that the entire world should cut off diplomacy or trades with North Korea. This would put China in a very uncomfortable position, in which they would potentially be the only country defending North Korea for their repeated provocations.
With a total lack of international support, it would be extremely difficult for China to invoke their veto power in the Security Council to keep defending their erstwhile ally.
Finally, a joint South Korea-U.S. resolution should be proposed to allow the U.N. to send their peacekeeping forces immediately to the Korean Peninsula to retaliate against any future North Korean provocations. If the U.N. will not keep the peace, then for what has it been created?
The main obstacle to getting these resolutions passed is the “veto” power given to five nations ― the U.S., France, England, Russia, and China.
The solution to this would be to reform the U.N. Security Council, eliminating that veto power and having every case brought before the council decided by a majority vote, or at least give the other nations the power to override a veto with a supermajority.
I believe that this aging Security Council should be overhauled and replaced with G20 members. If the U.S. and South Korea jointly initiate this reform, I believe the U.K. and France will come along.
This would give South Korea a position in the U.N. equal to China, as a member of the Security Council, and give them the power to prevent China from constantly vetoing actions against North Korea. The time has come to overhaul the staid, do-nothing U.N. and create something new on the international stage.
Jay Kim is a former U.S. Congressman. He serves as chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com).