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Right Intention: North Korea

Sunday, March 06, 2005

North Korea

I found an interesting op ed in the Washington Times on the North Korean situation. First the authors blame the entire situation on the Bush administration. Here's a sample:

The Bush neoconservatives have been convinced the only thing the North Korean leadership understands is power, pure and simple. They think negotiating with Pyongyang is not doable and trying to equals "appeasement" and "giving in to blackmail." The net result is the continuing nuclear crisis facing the major actors in Northeast Asia.

North Korea has no culpability whatsoever. At least if the authors believe so, they don't mention one word to that effect.

Another theme in the op ed is that the any legitimate opinion on the situation does not belong to the US.

It should be easy to accept the proposition that South Koreans understand North Koreans better than Americans do. Not so for the Bush administration which, almost four years ago, rejected the "Sunshine" policy of South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung and has not supported the "Peace and Prosperity" policy of the current President Roh Moo-hyun, aimed at reconciliation and eventual unification with the North.

The authors then go on to say:

The optimum Six-Party Talks strategy is to follow South Korea's lead, which seeks reconciliation and eventual Korean unification. This is not appeasement or surrender to blackmail.

Okay, sounds promising. Let's see their ideas.

1. Declare the U.S. has no hostile intent toward North Korea and is ready to co-exist peacefully with its present government.
2.Remove North Korea from the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist states. North Korea has not been involved in an act of terror since 1987.
3.Declare the U.S. ready to normalize relations, end economic sanctions, and help Pyongyang obtain World Bank and Asian Development Ban loans, despite its past loan defaults.
4.State the U.S. will work toward a regional nonaggression arrangement with North Korea, as well as establishment of a broad regional Northeast Asia security organization.
5.Commit the U.S. to work with Six-Party members and international organizations to help North Korea develop peaceful energy and agricultural capabilities.

Nope. No appeasement there.

What's expected of North Korea?

1. Return to the Six-Party Talks.
2. Disavow and dismantle nuclear weapons programs.
3. Rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, readmit International Atomic Energy Agency specialists and discuss special inspections by Six-Party teams.
4. Declare the intention to maintain normal relations with all members of the Six-Party Talks.
5. Release American, Korean and Japanese abductees.

Well, at least the authors put dismantling the programs in there. But discuss special inspections? That shouldn't be a discussion; that should be non-negotiable. No discussion of human rights for North Korean citizens? No discussion of penalties when- not if, when- North Korea violates the agreements? In other words, its the tried and true formula of the US being expected to deliver a bunch of things for the hope that our enemies keep their end of the bargain. We've been down this road before.

So here you see a rather textbook example of why its difficult to take the left seriously in matters involving national security and foreign policy. The template is as follows

1. The US is always wrong.
2. Everyone else is always right.
3. Appease the enemy, don't confront them.
4. The US is expected to make most of the concessions.
5. There are no penalties when the other side doesn't live up to its obligations.
6. When the situation deteriorates in the future, repeat steps 1-5.


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