Tuesday, December 06, 2005

North Korea and brinksmanship

I don't understand how people come to these conclusions.

This quote disturbed me:
To overcome present-day hurdles, the United States could announce it will cancel the next round of annual joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which continue to rile the North Korean regime. If North Korea reciprocates by suspending activities at Yongbyon
One second. This has been done before. As the author mentions earlier in the article, Bush Sr. did exactly this. Much later North Korea announced that it had been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program the whole time. If this approach is taken, North Korea will be free to continue developing clandestine nuclear weapons.

It continues:
the United States might also pledge to withdraw some of its strike aircraft from the region to demonstrate its commitment to its pledge in the Joint Statement that it has no intention to attack or invade the North.
But again, we are dealing with a dictatorship which has consistently failed to live up to its agreements. What is the motivation for abandoning our strongest military ally in the region? Does South Korea want us to remove forces from South Korea? No, they do not. We should not be bullied into abandoning our allies.

And there are other flaws present:

Despite the breakthrough agreement in September on a Joint Statement of Principles outlining a series of action-for-action steps to denuclearize North Korea in a verifiable manner, the main antagonists are again at odds over the substance and sequencing of the deal.

Notice the portrayal of the US merely as one of the 'main antagonists' alongside North Korea. The implication is that the US and North Korea are equally legitimate governments, and should be dealing with each other as though both were fair and reasonable legitimate governments. The author cannot make any inroads into objective opinions, until he is able to clearly differentiate between which involved power is actually legitimate.
There is only one 'antagonist' here. The US only cares because it is vital to global security, a point with which everybody generally agrees, but at the same time, nobody else is going to do anything about it.

Several mistakes are repeated:

Enough already. To break the cycle and test Pyongyang’s seriousness, President George W. Bush should borrow a page from his father’s playbook: unilateral, reciprocal actions that demonstrate the good faith of both sides and improve the likelihood of success.
The author gives no justification for why the US should unilaterally effectively appease North Korea, he merely alludes to an anecdote. However, North Korea's inability or unwillingness to follow through with those reference commitments is precisely why this failed mechanism should not be attempted again. The author needs to make clear what he believes the difference is this time. Why are these unilateral concessions going to succeed where all previous unilateral concessions have failed? (Both the Bush Sr. and Clinton actions were met with subterfuge and continued nuclear weapons development. If that is of contention, we need to compare facts.)

Notice in the following quote, how the author refuses to acknowledge blame in the collapse of previous nuclear agreements with North Korea. The implication of the text is that these failures had no cause, as though it was some sort of natural occurence that agreements like this collapse. In fact, the North Koreans never took these agreements seriously in the first place, as evidenced by their continued development of nuclear weapons. The North Koreans kicked out inspectors and restarted Yongbon. The North Koreans acknowledged their clandestine work on nuclear weapons during time covered by the agreement. This author loses a lot of credibility by avoiding placing blame for this failure squarely on the shoulders of the responsible party. Instead, the article leaves the issue floating in the wind, as though the breakdown of previous agreements was an unavoidable act of god, when it was merely an unavoidable act of Kim Jong Il/Kim Il Sung.

We cannot give security guarantees to dictators. Among other problems with this concept, it represents an unconstitutional limitation upon the powers of the executive branch as commander in chief of US armed forces. And there obviously will be no constitutional amendment guaranteeing such a thing for North Korea.

We are in a real bind here. There is no peaceful solution to the stalemate, and the involvement of nuclear weapons makes military action quite a difficult undertaking. The solution is not nearly as simple as this author attempts to make it, primarily because a solution does not exist.


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