Week of March 12

North Korea Summit: Last week, to the surprise of everyone in the White House, Trump accepted an offer by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet face to face to discuss denuclearization and normalization of relations on the peninsula. No sitting president has ever spoken to, much less face to face, a North Korean leader, making this summit both extremely important and historic in nature. This would not be the first time, however, that the U.S. and North Korea has held high level negotiations over the fate of nuclear weapons and the easing of sanctions. Each time those negotiations were deemed “successful” by the Americans, North Korea has not held up its end of the bargain, which generally involved the reduction or elimination of its nuclear program. With this context in mind, Mr. Trump must be wary of any promises made by the North Koreans, especially considering just a few months ago the North was testing ICBM’s and threatening nuclear war on the continental states. However, if the negotiations are somehow successful, and Mr. Un is serious about negotiating, this could finally be the breakthrough for peace that America has been hoping for, for decades. The potential for a denuclearized Korean peninsula is too great to ignore, and the United States must negotiate with good faith, while staying cognizant of past events.

Spy Warfare: The Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, has publically announced that it is “highly likely” that the Kremlin was behind a military grade nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter committed on British soil. Although this had been speculated due to the nature of the attack and its target, it is still an extraordinary step for the Prime Minister to unequivocally name Russia as the perpetrator of the attack. May, who has been historically reluctant to blame Russia for their covert dealings in the country, was under pressure from her nationalist base to name and punish the attacker for daring to attempt murder in such a fashion inside their country. The British now have a range of responses to counter the Russians for their brazen actions, and it has yet to be seen how they plan to move forward. This announcement, however, will hopefully set the precedent that Russia is not allowed to meddle so deeply in the affairs of another state, and that they have finally pushed the boundary too far.

Afrin under Siege: With much of the news being caught up in the affairs of American domestic policy and the drama that stems from it, Turkey has moved to close around the city of Afrin, trapping over 700,000 civilians with no access to supplies. This form of siege warfare is routinely condemned by America and its allies when it is perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad of Syria, but this time the aggressor is Turkey, who is a NATO ally. What makes the situation more complex is that they are attacking the Kurdish rebels that have been America’s greatest allies in the war against Assad. Turkey, however, has a sizeable Kurdish minority in its country and sees the Kurds as a terrorist group and a threat to its sovereignty. To add to the complexity, the Turks have been accused of resettling Turkish and Arab families in the villages surrounding Afrin in an attempt to permanently displace the Kurdish families living there. These actions, taking place just dozens of miles from the Turkish border, represent yet another increase in the violence of the Syrian civil war. This war, which has dragged on for over eight years, has depleted the sympathies of the international community, and the news of hundreds of thousands of civilians being held hostage by a NATO ally can barely even make the front page.

Shawn GilloolyComment