Marcelo Rech –
There is a Greek tradition known as the “Olympic Truce”, which comes from the first Games and implies the cessation of all hostilities between the countries participating in the competitions. In 1992, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) revived that tradition and, a year later, the United Nations General Assembly itself called for observance of the “truce.” Since then, the IOC has made efforts to make the Olympics an international symbol of humanism and the struggle for peace.
Nowadays, when journalists, experts and opinion makers in general discuss seriously the tensions on the Korean peninsula, the “Olympic Truce” becomes even more relevant. On November 13, 2017, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on all participating countries of the Winter Olympics in South Korea to “promote security during the Games.”
On the other hand, representatives of the main world powers affirm that there is no diplomatic alternative to solve the crisis in the region, although they discard the military way as a measure to be implemented. However, the United States has another vision.
Traditionally, Washington ignores the peace initiatives adopted in the scope of the multilateral system. The United States does not hide its indifference to the role of the United Nations and other international mechanisms for some years now.
According to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, “it does not bother me when the United Nations expresses dissatisfaction with US foreign policy.” He further stated that, this year, the country will review its UN funding policy because they do not want to “give money from the taxpayers to an ineffective, weak and increasingly anti-Semitic entity.”
There is a perception that the United States expects untouchable obedience from international organizations while not tolerating criticism of its foreign policy. In this context, decisions taken in Washington only contribute to increasing the escalation of tensions in the Korean peninsula.
Recently, the Pentagon extended the reach of military exercises in Southeast Asia, where it also increased the troop contingent. Last December, the Vigilant Act became the largest military exercise ever conducted between the United States and South Korea. An attack on North Korean infrastructure would have been the main goal of the maneuvers.
Moreover, President Donald Trump’s statements to physically destroy the regime of Kim Jong-un and carry out a “forced denuclearization” of that country adds more fuel to the flame. Add to that the statements by US permanent representative to the UN, Nikki Haley, that North Korea “will be destroyed” if it continues to develop the nuclear missile program.
Therefore, it is clear that the “Olympic Truce” is something that is not on the US radar. The United States seeks to strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific region, to increase technical-military cooperation with the weapons trade, and to weaken Chinese influence in the region. For the White House, it does not matter if its actions put the world on the brink of war.
Marcelo Rech is a journalist, director of InfoRel, specialist in International Relations, Strategies and Policies of Defense, Terrorism and Counterinsurgence and the Impact of Human Rights in Armed Conflicts.