Rule of Law

Where Is Obama's Moral Clarity on North Korea?

Welcome to 2013. Maybe the Mayans couldn’t add correctly. A tiny totalitarian regime is threatening the United States with nuclear attack, and the president has barely spoken on the matter since the threats were made. It isn’t hard to imagine how other presidents would have reacted differently.

First consider Bill Clinton. Forget the motivations, one thing is for sure — Clinton wasn’t afraid to speak with moral clarity in international affairs. He led NATO against a thug Serbian regime’s ethnic cleansing. Clinton labeled evil as evil.

Imagine how Ronald Reagan would have reacted to threats of nuclear attack on the United States by Kim Jong-Un.  For starters, I suspect Reagan would have begun a dialog with Kim’s victims years before a nuclear crisis erupted.

North Korea has become the world’s largest gulag. North Koreans are even two inches shorter than their South Korean counterparts. Kim Jong-Un’s hereditary totalitarianism has produced a nation of malnourished shrimps.

Reagan would not have been quiet about their circumstances.

Reagan spoke to the victims of communist totalitarianism around the world, and reassured them that freedom’s light remained lit. History tells us that the victims, even in the most controlled parts of the Soviet Union, heard Reagan. His words gave them hope, and eventually gave them courage to tear down walls.

Reagan spoke with moral clarity to the communist slave masters about the immorality of their regimes. He delegitimized communist governments by speaking directly to communism’s victims. He provided a moral contrast between America that is good and great and communist regimes that were evil and destined for the dustbin of history.

Speaking these truths directly to the victims of communism made peace more likely, even as the domestic left warned that such clarity was destabilizing.

The cheapest and most peaceful way for the crisis on the Korean peninsula to diffuse is for the slaves of Kim Jong-Un to throw off their slavemaster and join the ranks of people who have emerged from the darkness of communism to the light of freedom.

This cannot happen if the American president fails to speak with moral clarity. One wonders whether Obama is even capable of rhetorically elevating America’s status as a beacon of liberty. After all, his formative years and most of his political career were devoted to cataloging problems and grievances with America, and demanding transformative breaks from the past.

But circumstances in Korea demand that this president mature, and quick. Even if regime change isn’t in the offing, moral clarity informs American might. It’s time for Obama to abandon his silly flirtation with American nuclear disarmament. And most of all, it’s time to talk about the blessings of human liberty, and how liberty is obtainable, even to Korean slaves.

Providence gave the dull grey enslaved world Ronald Reagan’s voice of hope, and the world changed. It’s time this President learn something from a man whose legacy he has thus far rejected at every turn.

Also read Bryan Preston on what a war in North Korea would look like.

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