The North Korea Moment

Read the latest from Roger L. Hale fellow Catherine Killough

I was born at the end of the Cold War, but the world is no less dangerous today. Fears from my parent’s generation, including the resurgence of an arms race and increases in nuclear weapons spending, have yet to fade. Only now, those fears are compounded by the emergence of new nuclear states and an erratic US president who boasts about the size of his nuclear button.

If history teaches us anything, it’s that the past can—and often does—repeat itself. Nowhere is that lesson more important today than on the Korean peninsula. Nearly 70 years after the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States stands at the brink of another conflict. This time, the adversary is equipped with a nuclear arsenal and the missiles to deliver them. The risk of miscalculation with North Korea has never been higher, and the stakes never graver.

This is not the world Ploughshares Fund set out to build. But it is a challenge we are prepared to meet.

Building on our extensive network, we have cultivated a coalition of experts, activists, and current and former military and national security leaders who are committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the North Korea nuclear crisis. Our campaign is guided by two key principles: 1) there is no military solution, and 2) diplomacy offers the best and only chance for peace.

I have been fortunate to see this campaign evolve from the start, and I am impressed everyday by its depth and scope. This is just a small sample:

In Congress, we are working closely with members and their staff to create the political space necessary for diplomacy to thrive. With grantees like Win Without War, we have mobilized legislation to prohibit President Trump from starting a preventive war with North Korea. To strengthen these efforts, we are dedicated to elevating the voices of such impacted communities as Korean-Americans and veterans.

Outside the beltway, we strive to better engage and educate the public through our grassroots and expert communities. Advocacy groups like the Friends Committee on National Legislation are building public momentum for diplomacy, while the research conducted at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies provide timely analysis on the risks of war.

Behind the scenes, we continue to support the Track II activities of grantees like 38 North, which are essential to maintaining lines of communication between Americans and North Koreans. These engagements allow us to better develop diplomatic strategies, inform the policy debate, and encourage the Trump administration to pursue direct talks with North Korea.

This is only the beginning. As recent months have shown, the North Korea crisis is subject to change at an unpredictable and rapid pace. Only by expanding and accelerating our campaign can we manage the risks that accompany this uncertain future.

Recently, President Trump cancelled a much-anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. No matter what course the administration pursues, you can be sure that Ploughshares Fund will be ready to act.

Ploughshares Fund is working to reduce risk of nuclear war on Korean peninsula via @CatKillough.

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Photo: Catherine Killough.