This past week has seen the threat of war in North Korea rear its ugly head once again. Although the North has cancelled its diplomatic relations with the South a number of times in the past few decades, it remains to be seen if this latest action and bellicose threats are more than empty rhetoric. If the war turns hot, we will definitely see the USA and probably Japan too step in on the side of South Korea. But the interesting question is, if the North sends a ballistic missile flying towards the USA, could we possibly see an invocation of the famous Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack against all.) and thereby dragging in the whole alliance into a war against the North with all its horrific nuclear consequences? Only time will tell.
As J.F. Kennedy said before the UN on September 25, 1961, “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness.” Clearly, times have not changed much in the past 50 years.
One world leader though, the recently elected Argentine Pope, understood this clearly and in keeping true to his namesake of St Francis made a passionate call for a “renewed spirit of reconciliation” on the Korean Peninsula as early as his Easter Sunday “Urbi et Orbi” message of March 31. Perhaps his words fell on deaf ears but his call for calm was one of the few, if any, made at the time.
With the specter of this Korean madness hanging over us, let’s hope that cooler heads will prevail in Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang. The last thing this world needs is another war, especially one that has the very real possibility of going nuclear.