The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley (shown), said on July 25 that talks between the United States and the government of China aimed at gaining China’s support for UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea are progressing. The United States ratcheted up its call for sanctions following the Pyongyang regime’s July 4 missile launch and gave China a draft resolution to consider.
However, some Americans — including former U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) — believe that imposing sanctions on our adversaries does not work. (More about that in a moment.)
“We’re constantly in touch with China.... Things are moving but it's still too early to tell how far they’ll move,” Reuters quoted Haley’s comments. The ambassador added that she was pleased with China's initial response to the U.S. proposal because it showed "seriousness."
“We know that China’s been sharing and negotiating with Russia, so as long as they are doing that, we’re going to continue to watch this closely to make sure it is a strong resolution,” Haley told reporters.
“The true test will be what [the Chinese] have worked out with Russia [and whether] Russia comes and tries to pull out of that,” said Haley.
Reuters also quoted statements from two Chinese officials. China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters: “We are making progress, it requires time, but we're working very hard.”
And speaking in Beijing on July 26, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said any UN actions should help ensure peace, stability, and denuclearization. “All sides need to maintain pressure, and also work hard to ease the tense situation on the peninsula as soon as possible, creating a beneficial environment and atmosphere for resuming contacts and talks,” Lu said during a daily news briefing.
On July 5, Haley delivered a statement to the UN Security Council that addressed both North Korea’s missile launch the previous day and the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, an American university student who was arrested and imprisoned while visiting North Korea as a tourist in 2016. Two months after his imprisonment, Warmbier suffered severe neurological injury from an unknown cause and fell into a coma. Warmbier was released in June 2017, after nearly 18 months in captivity. He died on June 19, 2017, six days after his return to the United States.
Referring to both incidents, Haley said:
The nature of the North Korean regime is clear; only the scale of the damage it does could become different. That’s why yesterday’s escalation [in missile development] is so alarming. If North Korea will treat an innocent young student the way it treated Otto Warmbier, we should not be surprised if it acts barbarically on a larger scale.
Given the nature of communist regimes, it is likely that the North Koreans’ treatment of Warmbier was responsible for his death. Few would disagree that our government should always defend its citizens wherever they travel in the world. And the communist state’s development of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons also signals a serious threat for which the United States should prepare an adequate missile defense. The only question is exactly what the U.S. response to these events should be.
Haley stated: “The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies.” No one could dispute the first half of that statement, though it is impossible to find language in our Constitution to justify defense of our allies. (In his farewell address, George Washington said, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson called for “honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”)
Haley continued: “In the coming days, we will bring before the Security Council a resolution that raises the international response in a way that is proportionate to North Korea’s new escalation.”
In her summary of the problem and the solution, as she and the Trump administration see it, Haley said:
The international community has spoken frequently against the illegal and dangerous actions of the North Korean regime. For many years, there have been numerous UN sanctions against North Korea. But they have been insufficient to get them to change their destructive course.
Even if the United States decided it was advisable to impose sanctions on North Korea (more about that in a moment) it would still be advisable to do so unilaterally — not by means of the UN. Whenever our government relies on the UN for anything, whether it be economic warfare or actual military warfare, we are surrendering our sovereignty to the world body. The extreme example of exactly how bad this can get for our nation occurred on On June 27, 1950, when the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 83, recommending that UN members provide assistance to the Republic of Korea “to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area.”
The Soviets did not use their veto to stop this action, since they were boycotting the United Nations. (Some believe that they stayed away for precisely that reason, because they wanted the United States to become entangled in the upcoming war.)
By September 1, 1950, the United Nations command had a strength of 180,000 in Korea, 92,000 of whom were South Koreans, the balance being mostly Americans and the 1,600-man British 27th Infantry Brigade.
By the cessation of hostilities on July 27, 1953, the day the Armistice Agreement was signed, the United States had 302,483 troops in Korea, second only to South Korea’s 590,911. A total of 36,516 Americans died in the Korean War.
We had reaped the fruit of engaging in an “entangling alliance” of the type that Jefferson warned against.
However, even unilateral sanctions (though not as bad as those imposed by the UN) have their downside. Earlier, we promised to explain why former Representative Paul was opposed to them.
In an article posted on ronpaulinstutute.org on July 24, Paul wrote:
This week’s expected House vote to add more sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea is a prime example of how little thought goes into US foreign policy. Sanctions have become kind of an automatic action the US government takes when it simply doesn’t know what else to do.
No matter what the problem, no matter where on earth it occurs, the answer from Washington is always sanctions. Sanctions are supposed to force governments to change policies and do what Washington tells them or face the wrath of their people. So the goal of sanctions is to make life as miserable as possible for civilians so they will try to overthrow their governments. Foreign leaders and the elites do not suffer under sanctions. This policy would be immoral even if it did work, but it does not.
After addressing the futility of imposing sanctions against Russia or Iran, Paul moved on to North Korea, writing:
Why is Congress poised to add yet more sanctions on North Korea? Do they want the North Korean people to suffer more than they are already suffering? North Korea’s GDP is half that of Vermont — the US state with the lowest GDP! Does anyone believe they are about to invade us? There is much talk about North Korea’s ballistic missile program, but little talk about 30,000 US troops and weapons on North Korea’s border. For Washington, it’s never a threat if we do it to the other guy.
Here’s an alternative to doing the same thing over and over: Let’s take US troops out of North Korea after 70 years. The new South Korean president has proposed military talks with North Korea to try and reduce tensions. We should get out of the way and let them solve their own problems….
Unfortunately, getting out of the way and letting other countries solve their own problems is not the neocon, interventionist way.
Image: Screenshot of video made by United States Mission to the United Nations