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A Winter Olympics of War & Peace

North Korean Ballistic Missile
North Korean Ballistic Missile

By David Monkawa

I haven’t enjoyed the Olympics so much since Kristy Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan dominated their sports. I closely followed Chloe Kim’s almost perfect performance in the half-pipe. Alex and Maia Shibutani’s dazzled in the team competition and Mirai Nagasu made Team USA Olympic history with her triple axle.

But this year’s Olympics has a special significance. It perfectly honors the original intent of the games in ancient Greece whose purpose was to establish a moment of truce in the middle of many wars waged by city states, killing for resources, territory and power.

During the 17 days of the games South and North Korea (NK) will participate as one team under one flag of a united Korea in Pyeongchang, competing with the US and other nations. The US has suspended it’s so-called massive “war games”, just off the Korean Peninsula. This is similar to the No. Korean navy practicing bombing and invasion drills off the coast of Malibu. Conversely NK will not be conducting missile launch tests. But after the games the military tensions will likely resume. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists had moved the minute hand of the “Nuclear Clock” to within 2 minutes of midnight since Trump’s election and his subsequent threats made at the UN  to “totally destroy”  North Korea, a population of 25 million. The nuclear clock is an estimate of how close the world is to nuclear holocaust.

Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un

I don’t care for the repressive policies of Kim Jong Un, but they appear benign when compared to the US military operations in the last 20 years. Regardless of whatever political system may arise out of the potential reunification of Korea, the world can breathe easier for the duration of the games.  Vice President Pence’s accusations that the N. Koreans are trying to “hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games with its propaganda”, has been laughed at by peace loving people of the world. This includes my cousins in Hawaii who told me a few weeks ago that a neighbor in the Mililani area on Oahu died of a heart attack when he heard about a missile attack from NK. Another man had to decide which child he wanted to spend his last minutes with since they were on opposites sides of the island. 38 minutes later, everyone learned it was a false alert.

NK has a standing offer to freeze it’s nuclear program in exchange for the US freezing it’s “war games”, signing a peace treaty to end the Korean War and recognize their legitimacy. A military stand down was in place from 1994 to 2002 when the US used diplomacy to pursue these N. Korean demands under the “Agreed Framework”. But George W. Bush blew it apart by declaring NK part of the “Axis of Evil”. Diplomacy and sanity will not prevail until Trump is hopefully voted out of office in 2020.

So as we enjoy Nathan Chen in the figure skating competition and other athletes to wow us with their displays of skill, grace on the global stage, we should, “think globally and act locally” to advance peace in whatever public actions we take, to insure there is a tomorrow where our kids can aspire to become Olympians some day.

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