Ronald Reagan delivers a message to the Soviet Union in 1987:
Should South Korea follow in his footsteps in facing down the
North Korean menace?
Ronald Reagan': How South Korea Can Defeat the North (The Korea Times, South
"The Strategic Defense Initiative, also called Star Wars ... lured the Soviets into an arms race it couldn’t win. ... Let’s do a Reagan: play along with the North in a game that it calls its own, but statistics show it can never win. According to official data, our population is twice as large as that of the North; our GDP 40 times the North’s and GNP per capita close to 20 times larger ... All Pyongyang needs may be a little push."
Have we been waging the wrong war against North Korea?
And can our new president, Park Geun-hye, redirect
our strategy and finish off that feral beast once and for all?
These are complicated questions, but from the grave, the
ghost of one complicated and yet simple man may beg to answer. I refer to
Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, who during his 1981-1989
tenure is credited with delivering the push to the Soviet Union which led it to
the brink of collapse.
We have done virtually everything possible to deal with
North Korea. Yet with its third underground test, the north has brought itself
further along to becoming a nuclear state.
For ten years under Presidents Kim Dae-jung
and Roh Moo-hyun, we
employed the “Sunshine
Policy” of engagement with the North, in the hope of leading it to a “doctor-assisted,”
death. It did not.
President Lee Myung-bak has
applied the rule of reciprocity in dealing with the North. But this obviously
hasn't worked, either.
So we may feel like we have run out of options - but
Reagan would say otherwise. His winning strategy was reflected by three
On March 8, 1983, he first called the Soviet Union an
“evil empire,” marking the start of the largest peacetime military buildup in
U.S. history, and prodding America's archrival into a competition it was bound
At that time, the Soviets were under a post-Brezhnev
series of weak leaders, including Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko
and Mikhail Gorbachev. America's gross domestic product (GDP) and gross
national product (GNP) per capita was more than double that of the Soviets,
although with a high degree of certainty, one may assume that the latter
inflated its figures.
On March 23, Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative
(SDI), also called Star Wars, which was aimed at nullifying at once Moscow’s
numerical superiority in nuclear warheads.
This effort to free the U.S. from the old nuclear
deterrent concept of MAD - or Mutually Assured Destruction - failed to deliver
as promised, but ironically, it achieved an even bigger purpose by luring the
Soviets into an arms race it couldn’t win.
Reagan completed his three-part act in 1987, when he
declared during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, “Tear down this
wall.” This was Reagan’s prophetic double eulogy for communism, as the wall
fell in 1989, and the USSR, which disintegrated in 1991.
So we still have a trump card to play against the North.
Let’s do a Reagan: play along with the North in a game
that it calls its own, but statistics show it can never win. According to
official data, our population is twice as large as that of the North; our GDP
40 times the North’s and GNP per capita close to 20 times larger.
President-elect Park walked part of the way toward this
strategy herself, when she recently reminded the North that its former sponsor
the Soviet Union collapsed - and possessing nuclear weapons did nothing to