- - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On April 25, Australia will commemorate Anzac Day to pay tribute to those who have served the nation in wars and conflicts from World War I until the present-day “war on terrorism.”

In my home city of Sydney, a march of thousands of ex-service men and women and members of our Armed Forces will take place, watched by hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders. Also marching will be, as there has been for decades, a contingent of American ex-service personnel, signifying that in every major international conflict from World War I onwards, Australia and the United States have been allies.

Since 1951, our two countries, together with New Zealand, have been joined as allies by the ANZUS Treaty; and now, 65 years later that military alliance is still solid and unshakable. It signifies that Australia and the United States are joined by shared values and traditions, such as support for religious liberty, the rule of law, human rights, democracy and the free enterprise system. Historically and emotionally we have, and always will be, allies in times of war as well as, in times of peace.

Thinking Australians acknowledge that the United States holds a unique position that fate and providence have bestowed upon it as the leader of the free world and as a protector of good and decent values.

Without the leadership, commitment and righteousness of the United States, our freedoms would surely become eclipsed and extinguished, and the United States should not be left to bear this great responsibility alone. Australia’s previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott, put it fairly and squarely when he wrote, “It is wrong to expect America to be the world’s policeman with only token assistance from its allies.”

Thus, when on June 25, 1950, communist North Korea invaded South Korea, it was the United States that was the first nation to come to its military aid, and it was Australia that was the second nation to enter the conflict — with a contingent of 17,000 servicemen.

Now the situation on the Korean Peninsula, precarious at the best of times, is hurtling towards the precipice, making it the most dangerous time since a cease-fire ended hostilities in 1953.

North Korea’s game plan has always been to take one step backwards, then two steps forward so as to gain time to develop and perfect its nuclear capability. At times it acts with belligerence and bellicosity, initiating carefully crafted acts of hostility, aggression and breaches of international treaty obligations, followed by an illusory back down after material inducements, concessions and financial aid has been massaged from the West. Through this repetitive and contrived process of “induced conflict and tension,” North Korea has gained time to advance its nuclear capability to the point that it now possesses nuclear weapons and is well on a path to achieving a long-range missile system capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Whilst both North and South Korea have long called for a unified nation, it is apparent that the dynastic dictatorship in Pyongyang has no genuine desire for unification, in which a South Korea, with double the population and 40 times the GDP of the North, would enjoy dominance.

Recently there has been a hardening of resolve by South Korea, its allies and even the United Nations to no longer appease the Pyongyang regime in its decades-long “playing for time” strategy of obfuscation. As a consequence, there has been a series of increased sanctions against North Korea. This was demonstrated on Feb. 16, when Seoul withdrew from the North/South jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex, with a loss to Pyongyang of $100 million per year of desperately needed foreign exchange.

As one looks back over recent decades of strategic policy aimed at blocking North Korea’s attainment of nuclear military capability, the truth is that the West has had little or no success. Despite the endless negotiations, on and off short-term sanctions, foreign aid inducements, and overall indulging of the Pyongyang regime, the West’s failure has been compounded, and time is running out.

New initiatives need to be deployed. Sanctions can and do work, but to succeed they need the power, prestige and will of the United States to lead the way. They need a strong and credible president to emerge from this year’s presidential election, and a determined Congress. They need leaders with the foresight of a Ronald Reagan and the courage of a Margaret Thatcher. In turn, the United States needs to be assured that the Free World stands behind it, not just in rhetoric but in action, not in a token way but in a total way. America’s allies need to take up their fair share of the burden.

The sponsorship by The Washington Times of Parliamentarians For Peace, an initiative launched recently in the Parliament of the Republic of Korea by a global coalition of parliamentarians from 60 nations, is to be enthusiastically applauded. Dedicated to a peaceful reunification of Korea and a lessening and then removal of the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, it will further advance and enhance efforts by the Free World to obtain positive outcomes for the Korean people and world peace.

We are at the 11th hour, and unless we act decisively, the window of opportunity will close with grave consequences.

The Hon. David Clarke MLC, LLB, is a member of the New South Wales. Legislative Council and Parliamentary Secretary for Justice in Australia.

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