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Intern Debate

Glover Cottages Tuesday 27 June 2017

AIIA NSW Interns Debate – ‘That a more aggressive line must be taken by the US and its allies against North Korea”

A hard-fought and much anticipated debate took place at the end of our interns’ six-month placements at Glover Cottages. Harrison Howard, Farah Al Majed and Phillip Alphonse argued for the proposition, Toby Findlay-Williams, James Levy and Declan Molloy against.

The pros argued that the North Koreans had committed crimes against humanity, maintained an aggressive military posture towards the South, and despite United Nations sanctions, continued to produce nuclear weapons and improve a missile system to deliver them. The regime menaced not just South Korea, but Japan and other regional countries. When they developed an ICBM capacity, they would menace the west coast of the US and Australia. Appeasement would not work against such obduracy. They had to be stopped by much tougher and more aggressive action by the international community.

The cons argued that more aggressive action would only inflame a very combustible situation. And what should such action be? Invasion? Decapitation of the North Korean leadership? Bombing suspected nuclear facilities? All would result in the devastation at least of Seoul, possibly of the whole Korean peninsula. What was desperately needed was a breakthrough in communications leading either to the resumption of Six Party Talks, or even better, direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang. The hope was that such talks could lead to a peace agreement replacing the armistice, non-aggression guarantees, and the development of trade with the North.

AIIA Councillor Robert Howard  adjudicated. He said the debate had been closely fought, but awarded it to the cons, on the main ground that the pros had not attempted to define what ‘more aggressive’ actions should be, and how whatever measures were taken could possibly avoid a massive loss of life on the peninsula and beyond.

Following the debate, former Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Mack Williams, reflected in his time there, including being at the ceremony marking the start of construction of two light water power reactors in North Korea in August 2002 in exchange for which Pyongyang was to close its nuclear weapons program. Sadly the program did not eventuate, mainly because of mounting suspicions about North Korean motives and a failure of resolution by the United States.

Richard Broinowski

Published June 29, 2017