Wrong Turn in Korea Could Yet Consummate <br>A Trifecta of Shame

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Is the generation that rallied to JFK’s vow to bear any burden in the cause of liberty going to give it away in Korea? That’s the question as President Trump gets ready to meet with Kim Jong-un.

What a trifecta of shame that would be.

Our GIs, at great cost, won the military fight in Vietnam, despite what the left would have the world believe. Then the victory was given away in the United States Congress.

Even as the North Vietnamese Communists were marshaling their forces, Congress in 1974 began cutting assistance to the free Vietnamese in the South. The country fell in a matter of weeks.

In the Middle East, our GIs led a coalition that won the battle of Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein and setting up a democratic government. Then, incredibly, we packed up and went home.

Plenty of blame can be spread around. A vacuum was created for the Islamic State, though, and President Obama cut a deal with Iran that netted the ayatollahs billions for terror.

Now Free Korea — and maybe a lot more — hangs in the balance.

The latest news is that South Korea and the Communist North may end the state of war that has obtained since the 1950s. Reports suggest this could happen before Mr. Trump meets with Mr. Kim.

Those reports first came from a South Korean paper, the Munhwa Ilbo. The country’s president, Moon Jae-in, a former human-rights lawyer who is due to meet with Mr. Kim next week, seemed to confirm them.

Also on Tuesday, Mr. Trump made it clear he’s engaged on Korea. He gave what CNN is calling his “blessing” to the peace process that seems to be underway. “We’ll see what happens,” he said.

It’s not my purpose here to suggest that America bigfoot South Korea and block a deal. South Korea’s people are entitled to take their chances with their neighbors. As many as 4 million Koreans died or were wounded in the Korean war, after all.

Nor is the ache of the war just for the dead. Millions of Koreans go to bed every night wondering if they will ever see parents, siblings, children or relatives from whom they were separated by the war.

Few who cover Korea will ever forget the reunions that occurred when, in the early 1980s, Korean Broadcasting System used its airwaves to find and unite separated families.

The reunions were breathtakingly emotional. Yet they involved only families separated within the south, and only a fraction of those. They were the tip of an enormous iceberg.

This is why President Moon stressed Tuesday that in any agreement, “separated families must be allowed to reunite, exchange greetings and freely visit each other.” The issue is huge.

America, though, has its own standing in the drama now unfolding. It signed for the United Nations the armistice agreement that halted the fighting in 1953. The then-hawkish South Koreans refused to ink the pact.

It does no one a favor to put the gloss on the current lovefest. It began only after leftist South Korean parties ousted a duly elected hawkish president, Park Geun-hye, who sits in a jail cell, convicted of corruption. No wonder Kim Jong-un has been smiling.

What would happen were South Korea and America to disagree on a pact? No doubt that’s the art of this deal. In the US-Korean trade talks, Trump reportedly threatened to withdraw our forces.

Such a threat is unlikely to be needed in this case. Ending the state of war is, a South Korean official told Reuters, “not a matter that can be resolved between the two Koreas alone. It requires close consultations with other concerned nations, as well as North Korea.”

So America will have a vote, so to speak. Mr. Trump could use that to ensure American troops aren’t withdrawn merely in exchange for Kim’s promises. Nor do we owe the Communist Hermit Kingdom diplomatic recognition.

We learned that in, among other places, Vietnam. The Communists began violating the Paris peace accord, which ended the Vietnam War, before the ink was dry. And so the torch that JFK vowed had been passed to a new generation guttered out in the mud of Indochina.

This column first appeared in the New York Post.

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