We don’t know what Abraham Lincoln would have made of Barack Obama, since the 16th president died almost 150 years before the 44th took office.
But never fear. North Korea’s propagandists have taken it upon themselves to channel Lincoln and – surprise, surprise – the report card they give the current leader of the United States is not a good one, especially not when it comes to his policy toward the regime of Kim Jong Un.
“North Korea Today,” a state publication issued in Pyongyang, has just published a piece entitled “Advice from Lincoln to Obama,” which cites the Emancipation Proclamation and alludes to the Gettysburg Address.
“Hi there, Obama. I understand how perplexed you must feel nowadays, but I think this is the time for you to gather your thoughts as a president of a nation,” the North Korean voice of “Lincoln” writes.
“A thought came to my mind to give you this advice when I saw you standing in front of my portrait deeply engaged in contemplation during your Easter prayer meeting,” it said.
The piece mocks the current president’s Nobel Peace Prize and notes that “seven years ago” – not quite “four score and seven,” but the echo is clear – Obama said in a speech in Prague that he was committed to creating a world without nuclear weapons.
“You talked boastfully how you would try your best even though it may seem impossible to realize such a world in your term, but how much progress have you made so far?” the piece said. “None. Instead of abolishing nuclear weapons, the U.S. has modernized its nuclear arms and conducted the ‘B61-12’ nuclear test in Nevada last year.”
The “advice” piece comes at a tricky time in the fraught relationship between Washington and Pyongyang.
North Korea last year asked to open talks on reaching a peace agreement with the United States but would not commit to abandoning its nuclear weapons program if a deal was reached. The Korean War ended in an armistice, signed by an American general for the Southern side, so the two Koreas technically remain at war.
Washington rejected the request, which U.S. diplomats viewed as a ruse, saying denuclearization was its primary concern. Then North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test at the beginning of January, triggering international condemnation and rounds of tough sanctions.
Still, Kim’s regime has continued to bring up the idea of a peace agreement, even as its media outlets broadcast videos showing simulations of North Korean bombs blowing up Washington and publish statements threatening nuclear attacks.
The message took on a different tone with the advice from “Lincoln.”
“If you were going to make the world nuclear free, the process would have to begin in the U.S., where numerous nuclear weapons are deployed domestically and internationally,” the piece continued. “I said this once when I was alive, but I’ll say this once more. The government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth. This is the truth.”
North Korea is that country, where “the people are the owner,” according to North Korea Today. “This country will never be toppled by sanctions or economic isolation. There is a reason why the West views our country as a ‘mysteriously powerful country,'” it said.
The article referred to Obama’s opinion piece in The Washington Post, “How we can make our vision of a world without nuclear weapons a reality,” ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit on March 31.
“I read your letter in the Washington Post,” the North Korean article said. “You said that there were ‘high hurdles ahead.’ This is the right assessment, and you are the hurdle.”
“Even if just for the rest of your term, stop taking the Nobel Committee’s lofty intentions in vain. If you consider me to represent the foundation and destiny of the United States of America and do not wish to forget me, I hope you take my advice to heart.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Anna Fifield, Yoonjung Seo