One of the biggest errors made by the allied and victorious powers in World War II was to create so called 'spheres of influence' which divided the world between the USA driven North Atlantic Alliance and the USSR driven Warsaw Pact. The great powers made strategic policy and tactical decisions without much foresight or care how this will impact entire nations and regions for generations to come.
The Korean Peninsula was partitioned into North Korea to appease the Stalinist regime that was supported by the USSR and China on one hand and South Korea to satisfy the geo-political and economic ambitions of the USA and its allies, without the consent of the Korean people. Today, only Korea remains a divided nation after WWII. Germany, Vietnam and other nations managed to unify despite huge costs and challenges.
The Korean War destroyed the lives of millions of Koreans and other nations that were dragged into the devastating and expensive conflict including the USA, China and Australia.
The creation of two hostile Korean states with irreconcilable political, economic and military strategies and alliances sowed the seed for continuous rivalry, distrust and huge investments in military and intelligence capabilities. The division of the Korean Peninsula had a negative and significant impact on huge numbers of Korean families who even today can not visit each other because of the strict and bizarre travel and engagement restrictions placed upon them by the so called Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The creation of the DPRK effectively enslaved the entire population of North Korea to the whim of the dictatorial regime of the Kim family dynasty which has nothing to do with democracy, socialism, freedom or human rights. The Kim family has ruled North Korea with an iron fist for three generations now. It modelled it strategies and practices on the Stalinist dictatorship and then refined them over time to suit the totalitarian regime which seeks to exert total control of the body and mind of its impoverished, frightened and depressed citizens.
By becoming a nuclear power, the DPRK expanded its reach and influence on the global stage. It has constantly used the threat of nuclear war to protect itself from external threats and to block change in the status quo. It has starved its population from food and other basic necessities of life to create and sustain the fifth largest army in the world. It has deprived its people of basic human rights through harsh military, police and judicial methods. It arbitrarily imprisons its citizens in numerous prison camps across the country and shoots those who try to escape North Korea for a third time. The regime has also been brutal on its closest internal supporters and members of the Polit Bureau. The regime has used its finite resources to create new and ever more powerful long range and dangerous ballistic and other weapons to threaten South Korea, Japan, the USA and Australia. It has used psychological warfare to control the behaviour of its friends and its foes. It has engaged in illegal arms and narcotics trade to generate revenue for its military and police state.
The regime in the DPRK has enjoyed support from PR China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran and a few other regimes who use trade and aid to advance their own agendas. The West has also made huge errors by supporting undemocratic regimes in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa to advance its own geo-strategic interests.
Australia's former High Court Justice, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG deserves international recognition for his excellent UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK. His landmark report is now on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The findings and recommendations in his unique and timely report need to be debated and acted upon across Australia and the free world. This week, he spoke at the One Korea Seminar in Melbourne. The event was organised by the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea. The key topic was the need to address the moral and geo-strategic implications of the dangerous regime in Pyon Yang. His message was supported by the Hon Michael Danby MHR and by other keynote speakers from the AIIA, the Australian Financial Review and professors from Australia's top universities.
As an ambitious and influential G20 nation, Australia has an opportunity to mobilise regional and global support for creating a unified and democratic Korea through peaceful diplomacy, democracy and advocacy. Australian civil society and the media can support the creation of a unified, peaceful and democratic Korea by mobilising support for change in Australia and internationally. The issue of One Korea can be disseminated and discussed via social media and on ABC's Q&A program. Australia's international image, reputation and voice can be enhanced by recognising and rectifying its human rights problems at home with its indigenous population.
Australia and the rest of the free world can make a positive contribution by using a combination of economic, political and development incentives and engagement initiatives. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite regimes in Eastern and Central Europe show that change can be driven by peaceful democratic means. There is no telling how long the regime in the DPRK will last under its third generation dictator and whether the change will come from internal sources, from outside or from both directions.
Each member of the G20 and all members of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly can play a positive role towards creating a truly democratic and unified Korea.
Such a development will meet the aspirations of the Korean people for living in peace and prosperity. It will also help the UNSC to make the world a safer place.
South Korea has carefully studied the process, costs, challenges and outcomes of the German unification. The Korean people will need all the support they can get to make their dream of a unified, democratic and free Korea a sustainable reality. They can harness the power and networks of the Korean diaspora to accelerate the process of re-unification. Hopefully they will not have to wait much longer.
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