North Korea: When tests of trust turn global events
A new pact between North Korea and the US will test the honesty of the regime's new leader, Kim Jong-un. Other countries, such as Iran and Greece, are also being tested because on their deceit.
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Then there are the countries that lie about their economic statistics, posing a threat to the global economy. Greece, for example, got caught lying about the size of its debts, creating worries of a loan default and forcing Europe into a financial crisis. Spain, too, finally owned up to years of hiding government debt, also worsening the prospects for the 17-nation eurozone.Skip to next paragraph
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Few experts believe China’s official data about the size of loans to state-run banks and local governments. And for years, Argentina has given low figures on its inflation rate while punishing economists who calculate the rate is much higher.
The US and others fear that the Pakistani intelligence service uses the terrorist group to influence events in Afghanistan. The repercussions are that the Taliban serves as a breeding ground for international terrorists while also killing NATO soldiers.
In the art of diplomacy, trust requires many things, such as transparency, communication, dependability, and a discernment of motives. Lack of trust can lead to fear and perhaps defensive aggressiveness. Experts on trust have even tried to measure it within each country – trust toward government or between people – in hopes of fostering more of it between countries.
When nations try to restore lost trust, the world should applaud. On his recent visit to the US, for example, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping called for reducing the “trust deficit” with the US. Presumably that means each country will try to take small steps to build confidence and test the other’s level of integrity. Only then can they be willing to be vulnerable enough to accept each other’s word and make an agreement.
Trust also requires shared values and a consensus on what is “public morality,” such as the international norms on nuclear weapons. The latest agreement with North Korea might be a step in reducing the number of countries whose actions are outside such norms.
By signing the pact, the US made itself vulnerable to being used again by the North. But perhaps the US had some evidence that the new Kim in Pyongyang is different, and decided that risking a little trust might result in it being reciprocated. Trust that it will.