Letter: U.S. missed an opportunity in South Korea

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We witnessed something remarkable during the opening ceremonies of the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics – leaders of North Korea and South Korea, standing in the same area, both applauding as Korean athletes filed into the Olympic Stadium.

For perhaps the first time since before the Korean War, leaders of both countries were sharing the same thing, Korean athletes, not North or South, but Koreans preparing to compete in the Olympic games. There is an opportunity here. An opportunity perhaps to turn down the heat of rhetoric and begin to bring, if not peace, at least calm to the Korean peninsula.

How did our enlightened leadership respond? We saw Mike Pence sitting, apparently oblivious to the magnitude of the moment, with his back turned. At a time where we need leadership and statesmanship, we get a vice president without the good sense to at least stand and acknowledge the moment. Not surprising. We have a White House too given to chest thumping nationalism and too preoccupied with yet another scandal to recognize the opportunity that is being presented to it.

Or, perhaps and much worse, a White House that does not understand and does not care. Are the voices of the true statesman in the U.S. being drowned out by the partisan noise? In a time where even speaking to a Democrat or Republican or North Korean is seen as a sign of weakness, we need someone with the courage to start. Instead we have Donald Trump. We must remember Richard Nixon went to China and Anwar Sadat made peace with Isreal. It can be done. We only need leadership with the moral courage, the wisdom and the foresight to start.

Michael Pelchat