Are you scared of the nuclear attack warning siren? Well, two of us from Oahu decided to do something about it.

Christine Ahn and I, both residents of Honolulu, think the sirens are unnecessary fearmongering of a North Korean attack on the United States and specifically of Hawaii residents and tourists to the islands.

We were part of a 16-woman delegation from five countries who recently travelled to Vancouver, British Colombia, to participate in a Civil Society Round Table. It was sponsored by the government of Canada, and it was a public forum on security and stability on the Korean peninsula. It was held in conjunction with the meeting of the foreign ministers of 20 countries of the U.S.-led Korean command.

The 2007 Arirang (Mass Games) in Pyongyang, North Korea. The authors urge the U.S. to start talking to the isolated nation rather than talk of war. Flickr: (stephan)

Based on the long, collective experience of our delegates engaging with North Koreans through citizen diplomacy and humanitarian initiatives, and from our collective expertise on militarism, nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions and the human cost of the unresolved Korean War, we do not believe the North Koreans are going to attack the United States — and that the state of Hawaii is being used for political advancement of a hysteria for war with North Korea.

Instead of approving of the warmongering of the Trump administration, our delegations’ recommendations to the meeting of foreign ministers appealed for sanity in dealing with the North Korean government:

  • immediately engage all relevant parties in dialogue, without preconditions, to work toward achieving a nuclear-free Korean peninsula;
  • abandon the strategy of maximum pressure, lift sanctions which have deleterious effects on the North Korean people, work toward the normalization of diplomatic relations, remove barriers to citizen-to-citizen engagement and strengthen humanitarian cooperation;
  •  adhere to all the Security Council recommendations on Women, Peace and Security. In particular urge the foreign ministers to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which acknowledges that the meaningful participation of women in all stages of conflict resolution and peace-building strengthens peace and security for all; and
  • extend the spirit of the Olympic truce and affirm the resumption for inter-Korean dialogue by supporting:
  1. negotiations for the continued suspension of joint U.S.-ROK military exercises in the south, and the continued suspension of nuclear and missile tests in the north;
  2. a pledge not to conduct a first strike, nuclear or conventional; and
  3. a process to replace the Armistice Agreement with a Korea Peace Agreement.

Reject ‘Maximum Pressure’

Despite our best efforts at the Civil Society Round Table and individual meeting with the U.S. and Canadian delegations, the foreign ministers chose to continue the “maximum pressure” strategy on North Korea through rigorous enforcement of UN sanctions and a underscoring that a nuclear-armed North Korea would never be accepted.

Our delegation responded that the foreign ministers had chosen to further isolate and threaten North Korea, a strategy that had utterly failed to halt North Korea’s nuclear and missile program and had only furthered the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s resolve to develop its nuclear arsenal.

We know that the sanctions that have been imposed have cruel and punishing effects on ordinary North Koreans and are considered by North Korea as warfare-economic warfare, just as military war preparations (games) are considered as pre-invasion and regime overthrow warfare.

We are profoundly disappointed by the foreign ministers who represent countries with a commitment to peaceful diplomacy and feminist foreign policies. At a time of great global instability, we looked to them for leadership for true global peace and security, but found instead continuation of threats, isolation and economic and military warfare.

At the state level, we hope that Hawaii will discontinue its monthly (and accidental?) siren and cell phone war-mongering that is conditioning the public for war and increased military spending, instead of the less expensive and more probably successful strategy — dialogue!

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