July 27 marks the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the ferocious fighting that marked the Korean War. Signed by generals from the United States—representing the UN Command—as well as North Korea and China, it ushered in an uncertain peace that millions of people on both sides of the conflict now hope to extend with a formal treaty ending the war once and for all.
“Nearly 70 years ago…an extremely bloody conflict ravaged the Korean Peninsula,” President Trump declared after his unprecedented summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. “Countless people died in the conflict, including tens of thousands of brave Americans. Yet, while the armistice was agreed to, the war never ended.… But now we can all have hope that it will soon end. And it will.”
Over a month later, as Trump continues his quest to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons with promises of a peace process, a lifting of sanctions, and economic assistance, five prominent analysts with extensive experience dealing with Pyongyang are looking to that armistice as a vehicle to provide the North with the security guarantees it needs to eliminate its only deterrent against the US military forces arrayed against it in the Asia-Pacific region.
In an article published by the Berkeley-based Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability earlier this month, the analysts—four Americans and one Australian—make an audacious proposal for the United States and North Korea to shift from their present status as enemies to virtual allies.
Under their proposal, the two warring countries would become “security partners” in which the North “would be neither an enemy nor an ally, but somewhere in-between, albeit on the cooperative end of the spectrum.” The situation, they say, could be analogous to the US relationship with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.