Sunday, June 12, 2005

Down the Drain: The Current Approach to the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

North Korea
has never been potentially more dangerous than it is today, except for perhaps in 1951 on the eve of the Korean War. While mainstream media and cultural sources of expression (e.g. the movie Team America) have focused on this peril, no progress has been achieved since the first news of North Korea's renewed nuclear program in 2001. While Bush boasted about his diplomatic success with the 6-party talks (honoring the idea of multilateralism) in the 2004 Presidential campaign, his administration is reaching out with one hand, and giving the finger with the other; by issuing and uttering statements, which insult the North Korean leadership--a faux pas in diplomacy no matter how cruel or 'evil' the opponent might appear. Is it not a waste of energy to cooperate with your worst foe, if simultaneously offending it through intermediary channels?

It is therefore time to readjust the US policy and approach to this problem, as the current course seems to be steering us directly into a wall, or worse, to the edge of a gigantic waterfall. President Bush - your North Korea strategy is failing.

I have a theory behind this. It can be assumed that the current Bush administration (and his republican cohorts) sees little purpose in solving the situation, as it simply could lead to a bigger mess. The regional order, strategically, is de facto controlled by the United States. For the US to assume any changes in its posture vis-à-vis the North Korean regime, it could potentially backlash and lead to a domino effect in its position in East Asia. If the North Korean problem is optimally solved (from a Korean perspective) it would lead to the complete departure of US troops from South Korea and possibly even Japan. That would not fall well with the hawks in the pentagon/Foggy Bottom. The Bush administration would see a complete reshaping in the East Asian "hub and spokes" system in East Asia, if the Korean peninsula would become a "peaceful place" and with China as another unsolved strategic problem, the Bush administration would benefit from keeping the status quo, and not give China or Japan the upper hand in terms of power projections. That is why Bush has been to reluctant from engaging Kim Jong Il in a manner similar to Bill Clinton. Not only are Bush, Cheney and Rummy guided by strong moral codes (which ironically includes his alliance with countries like Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan), but they also like to see a US supremacy in the East Asian region.

Imagine if North Korea seizes to exists-would China not feel threatened by the powerful US military presence in East Asia? ...You see what I mean????

Now it's your turn::


yoshi said...

I think the Bush administration's strategy against NK is better than that of Clinton. Clinton aided NK a lot in the 1990s but the situation became worse as well. NK was secretly developing its nuclear capabilities.

I admit US presence is very important for security in Asia. Therefore Japan, SK, China and Russia will have to cooperate with Bush administration and pressure NK to abandon NK's nukes.

The problem is that CHina and SK are not cooperating with Bush well. China has been aiding NK ( to prevent NK from collasping) and SK's Roh regime is hopelessly appeasing Kim John Il.

Japan and US's relationship are much better now than 1990s. So US & Japan have to strengthen their alliance and pressure China/SK.

cookiesap on-line said...

Yoshi, I think you have a good point on this one. there is a gap between China/South Korea and Japan/USA. But one must understand South Korea's natural affection towards their sisters and brothers to the north. For Bush to hope that everyone is to follow him is absurd. Another one of those "either you're with or against us" phases from the popular president that we can only entertain ourselves with (or cry about).

In a nutshell, the US is not leading a coherent and consistant policy towards North Korea - that is what I want to emphasize. North Korea is a pain in the neck. Granted. But the US is not genuinely involved. The Chinese Ren Min Bi seems to be more important to the cowboy in the "Bai Gong."

yoshi said...

I agree on the opinion that we must understand Korean's people's affections towards brothers/sisters in North Korea. But what is absurd about nowaday's young South Koreans are that they do not seem to care about despicable human rights violations in North Korea. They simply forget it! If South Koreans really have affections towards North Koreans, they must make efforts to stop Kim John Il from bullying ordinary North Koreans.

The 'Sunshine Policy' of the SK govt is nth but dangerous appeasement. South Korea's govt must cooperate with US & Japan in order to pressure NK...for the sake of the people in dispair.

Furthermore, if US does not afford to maintain its coherent policy, then Japan must strengthen its alliance with US to reduce US's burden for security cost.

It means that Japan has to change its own restrictive constitution in order to widen the scope of the military coopearation with the US.

cookiesap on-line said...

Of course the Koreans should (and are) showing disgust with the North Korean human rights violations. but dont forget that within the last generation, South Korea has experienced its own violations against humanity with the Gwangju massacre and political imprisonment prior to the democratization reforms in the latter 80s. South Korea is thus emphasizing with the North Korean people who are caught in the crossfire between a horrendous leadership and the very aggressive American leadership.
South Korea feels threatened by the US policy towards north korea - don't forget that by the drop of a hat, North Korea can turn Seoul into a "Sea of fire".

Don Oberdorfer, a North Korean expert, now at SAIS in Washington DC, wrote an interesting article in Nautilus yesterday. He argues that the US didn't like China nor the USSR, but engaging them were still the way to go -- and in retrospect, some of the best decisions made in US Foreign Policy.

yoshi said...

But from my point of view, SK govt and the people (esp younger than 40s) just concentrate on being friendly to NK. Roh Mu Hyun regime lacks effort to contain NK together with US & Japan. Unfortunately, Mr Roh looks busier blaming one of Japanese historical textbooks.

Mr Roh does not take much account of abducted SK people by NK during the Korean War. Japanese govt blames NK for the abuduction but SK govt does nothing!...everything is to appease NK.

NK can also turn Japan into a crossfire (Hope you had already taken it into consideration).Any appeasement policy which gives NK time to make nukes is very dangerous in the long term.

If SK stays aloof of cooperating with Japan and US, I think Japan govt should declare that Japan has rights of collective security with the US. Currently, Japanese govt is carrying out this policy.

Again, appeasement is a short-term solution which will worsen the situation in the long term. I do not afford to be an armchair critic. Japan is within the scope of NK's missiles.