21st Century (Un)Wars: Analysing #TrumpKimSummit


“To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” -Sun Tzu


12 June 2018 was a historic day as Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met in Singapore with an aim to denuclearize Korean peninsula and usher a new era of relations between North Korea and the West (read the World considering the current sanctions which prevent regular trade with any country). The previous US Governments have tried the hard way using sanctions – a tool of fear, and military posturing but it has all been in vain. The North continued pursuing its nuclear ambitions.

Let us discuss the various perspectives from each of the stakeholders’ viewpoint.


North Korea:

The sanctions have undoubtedly crippled their economy but the nuclear ambition is a leverage which they could not let go. An era of peace with guaranteed security and no hostility would give them some breathing space to develop their economy and they can do it real quick. It could either become a pseudo-extension of Chinese territories by being a supplier of cheap labour or take advantages of the technological prowess of the South. The latter sounds a smart choice but a balance of both is an even smarter one.

Opening up of the hermit nation for tourism could be another boost to the till now unexplored tourist destination. It has a great opportunity to leap-frog into the future with the help of the South.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

South Korea:

They would be happy to have a peaceful neighbourhood with the open borders, no hostilities and no nuclear threat. People to people contact between the two would be good but uncertain if after so many decades family contacts still persist. The suspension of the joint military exercises with the US should not be much of a concern as they are just a call away based out of Japan.



They knew that after an already saturated Middle-East, the North could have been a good fresh target for the US and having them at their backyard up-in-arms is not something which China wanted. The North acts as a perfect buffer between the US forces based in South Korea and Japan which China would not want to disturb. Therefore, China could have a major role in pushing the North to the negotiation table. It was in a way a balancing act in the already waging US-China trade wars to ease off tensions.



A war is always beneficial for the defence industry there but the economic situations there cannot afford one right now. Also, with the rising anti-war narrative which Trump himself had supported, he knows a war is not in the best interest of the United States. Going to a new war would make him look like he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors. Rather negotiating a peace deal with the North would make him the Hero, who made an impossible happen. Also, not to forget Trump would want to win the Nobel Peace Prize just like his predecessor.



Wars are just a manifestation of larger agendas at play (maybe political, ideological, personal, survival, etc.) but they have the ability to change the course of history at the cost of lives and resources. The two leaders of the US and North Korea coming to the talking table for whatever reasons is a sign that the leaders are now increasingly wary of the impacts of a war but how long they can ward off the pressure from the defence industry lobby would be interesting to see.

The Israeli PM Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu’s recent water technology offer to the Iranians for free and in the Farsi language is a hard power posturing through the soft channel . This is a Gandhian approach towards Iran which has been waging a so-called proxy war on Israel and which has intensified in the recent past. Even though Israel aptly responds to the threats militarily, it is also fighting the Iranian regime directly through the soft channels of social media by praising and sympathizing with the Iranians while projecting the regime as a devil.

It has been historically witnessed that during Indo-China face-offs along the borders, it is usually a hand to hand brute show of power, occasionally with rocks but never with guns. Video recording by both sides is also a norm and that is how we see it. This was also true for the major stand-off at Doklam. None of the parties escalated the matter militarily.

The Russian, Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian narratives in the Syrian theatre, the narratives in the Yemeni theatre are different. It’s more about keeping control, taking advantage and gaining even more control. But, the above cases of US-North Korea, Israel-Iran and Indo-China are more of co-existing without having to go to full-blown war (even though the Iranian regime claims to wipe out of Israel but takes part only through proxies in Palestine and Syria).

It is a good sign that the world leaders understand the importance of peace and implementing it through peaceful tools rather than military ones, even if it is due to reasons like economic conditions, and long drawn after-effects of war.



Ekanto Ghosh is a Teaching Assistant cum Analyst in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. A military aviation enthusiast having an appreciative eye for art, he is a Computer Science engineer and has pursued his Masters in Technology Management from the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team.




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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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This report has been written by The Kootneeti Team. For any feedbacks/query reach Editor@thekootneeti.com || Twitter: @TheKootneeti

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