Over the Hill

I told Trump to talk to North Korea. Do you think he's listening?

Phil Dirkx
Phil Dirkx jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I wonder if President Donald Trump reads these columns I write.

If so, that could be one explanation for his recently announced plan to meet soon with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un.

In a column last October, I criticized President Trump after he said his secretary of state was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with North Korea about nuclear and missile programs.”

In that column of Oct.3, I reminded Trump of something Winston Churchill said years earlier. Churchill was the prime minister of Great Britain during World War II. He said, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

And now Trump has agreed to jaw-jaw with Kim instead of threatening him with war-war.

But I doubt the White House subscribes to the Tribune.

I also confess that back when North Korea first invaded South Korea I probably didn’t know where the Korean peninsula was. That invasion started June 25, 1950.

I was 19 years old. The United States joined in that war as an ally of South Korea.

The U.S Army then quickly reopened Camp Roberts near San Miguel. About 300,000 recruits and draftees were trained there during the Korean War. (During World War II, 436,000 were trained there.)

The shooting in Korea was stopped with a cease-fire agreement on July 27, 1953, but no peace treaty has ever been signed. So a state of war still exists between North Korea and South Korea and us.

Their armies still face each other, and 23,468 American military personnel remain in South Korea, according to Wikipedia.

We must now hope the two Koreas can find a way to get along peaceably, and I see some hopeful signs.

The top leaders of North and South Korea held a friendly meeting last Friday at the cease-fire line. More talks and negotiations are expected, and U.S. President Trump plans to meet with Kim in late May or early June.

North and South Korea and the United States are at least speaking politely to each other. There’s a chance that a peace treaty may finally be signed to end our 67-year state-of-war with North Korea.

I must confess I have a personal interest in this. I was in the United States Army during the Korean War but never got closer to Korea than Camp Roberts, which was just fine with me.

I always feel guilty when people tell me, “Thank you for your service.” I should thank them. I got one year of training: consisting of Basic Training, Leaders Course, and Officer Candidate School.

Then I spent 1½ years at Camp Roberts. And during my last 9 months there I was assistant manager of the officers club, where I met Mamie. We got married three days before I was released from active duty.

I hope that when President Trump meets with the North Korean leaders, he remembers Korea was a proud, independent country for centuries and doesn’t want to be dominated by us or by its big neighbor, China.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every other week. Reach Dirkx at 805-238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.
Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune