Ploughshares Fund Engages on North Korea
As tensions have risen in the face of North Korea’s heated rhetoric, the U.S. media has been running non-stop, and often inflammatory, coverage of every new development. Unfortunately, much of the coverage has been neither useful nor informative and cuts against the opinion of many North Korea experts by touting the DPRK as a direct threat to the United States. Most experts aren’t concerned with the prospect of a preemptive military strike from North Korea. We’ve seen this pattern of provocation before. Instead, experts worry that the situation could spiral out of control, spurring a real crisis on the Korean peninsula.
As Philip Yun, Ploughshares Fund Executive Director, wrote for US News and World Report:
The greatest danger at this time comes not from a North Korean pre-emptive nuclear attack, but from miscalculation. In this "tit-for tat" game now underway on the Peninsula, the North likely believes it can increase or decrease tension levels as it wishes. After all, its provocations are what cause us to lurch from one "crisis" to another. Yet deadly skirmishes between South and North naval and fishing vessels are commonplace, as are potentially fatal incidents along the DMZ; and when this is added to super-heated rhetoric and upcoming weeks of large South Korean, U.S. and DPRK military exercises, one could easily foresee a situation in which an altercation between North and South – one that would have been relatively minor a few years ago – now has a real chance of escalating out of control into something major.
To help keep policymakers and the public on a steady path toward resolution of the crisis, Ploughshares Fund and our grantees have been working to lower the temperature by producing sound analysis, organizing the community, and pushing back against inflammatory arguments in the media.
- Joel Wit of Columbia University provided detailed arguments and a wealth of useful sources on the blog, 38 North
- Grantees such as The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, The National Committee on North Korea, and The Nuclear Threat Initiative provided fact sheets on North Korea’s missiles capabilities and operational status
- Many groups, such as Center for American Progress, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Arms Control Association, and Union of Concerned Scientists weighed in with articles and blog posts
- The Brookings Institution hosted an event to discuss North Korea and Policy Priorities for the U.S.
- ReThink Media and National Security Network helped to shape the message by providing feedback on talking points and assisting with media coordination and outreach
Ploughshares Fund, noticing the need for increased community connectivity, quickly set up an email list-serve to provide a forum for the experts and organizations engaged on North Korea to discuss these arguments and ideas. This collective debate encouraged a more coordinated message to the media and the public.
Our own experts answered dozens of media calls and helped bring levelheaded analysis to the discussion in over 40 interviews.
Check out Philip on Fox News Studio B with Shepard Smith to re-emphasize the real danger.
Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione also appeared in the media many times throughout the crisis. In an interview with CNN Saturday Morning, Joe stated, "Still, I do not think the North Koreans want to start a war…the danger is that it could spiral out of control."
Ploughshares Fund is proud to fund the smartest people with the best ideas. In times of crisis, our grantees and experts are on call to bring the facts and analysis to the public discussion and the media debate.