Thursday, March 8, 2012

U. S. Deal With North Korea Might, Just Might Be a Foreign Policy Success

A Small Chance is Better Than No Chance

Anyone ever notice that it is the small countries that cause the most problems in the world today.  Israel and the countries of the middle east are not significant in terms of world population, but their continuing conflicts are significant in terms of geopolitical problems.  Greece is one of Europe’s smallest countries, and yet its problems have nearly destroyed the Euro and the European union.  Taiwan threatens to disrupt peace in Asia, and possibly lead to a war between the U. S. and China.

No We Don't Know How North Koreans Let
Him Have Power Either

North Korea fits into this “small but troublesome” category of countries.  For decades it has served as a threat to the region, and for decades the U. S. and its allies have tried to come to some sort of agreement with that country to remove its belligerence.

NOT quite three years ago Robert Gates, then America’s defence secretary, warned North Korea that he “was tired of buying the same horse twice”. Like some seedy racketeer, the delinquents in Pyongyang had extorted a generous payment in exchange for talks about giving up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. But they had reneged on their promise, procured a bomb and were now expecting yet more rewards for returning to the table. Over the years an exasperated world has tried inducements, threats and, latterly, “strategic patience”—a form of isolation. All the while the hermit kingdom has stumbled on, stockpiling uranium, and occasionally testing bombs and lobbing missiles into the Pacific Ocean.

Now a new agreement between North Korea and the United States has been reached, one that might, gasp, actually make progress towards defusing the situation.

On February 29th North Korea and America announced that the North would suspend its enrichment of uranium at its plant in Yongbyon and impose a moratorium on tests of weapons and long-range missiles. Crucially, the North has agreed that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will check that enrichment really has stopped. In return America will ship at least 240,000 tonnes of food aid to feed North Korea’s starving people, organise a few cultural exchanges, and work towards six-nation talks about a comprehensive settlement.

The most objective analysis of world politics and economics can usually be found in The Economist magazine.  This is partly a result of the excellence of their reporting, their common sense approach in a center-right sense and the fact that they are sufficiently removed from the United States so as to be objective, and not caught up in the hysteria of U. S. politics.  The Economist thinks there might be an opportunity here.

America would probably be giving food to North Korea without this deal, as humanitarian relief. And even if the North eventually throws out the inspectors, they will still get their first glimpse of the North Korean programme since 2009. The fact is that North Korea already has a fistful of bombs. It has been pretty much unconstrained since it walked out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003. If this deal slows the rate at which the North accumulates a nuclear arsenal, then it will have been worth something.

And there is a faint possibility that it will lead to much more than that. Kim Jong Un appears to want stable foreign relations as he consolidates power. But if he really does end up taking a different path from his father, then he will need vast amounts of foreign support. America is right to give him the chance. The six-party talks on the nuclear programme could yet be the forum in which the outside world invests in North Korean power stations and infrastructure even as the North freezes its weapons programme—or even surrenders it.

Yes realism requires recognition that like deals before it, this one may end up with nothing accomplished.

This week’s deal has risks for America. It might yet fall apart, even at this early stage. The North probably has other enrichment plants apart from Yongbyon. It might string the world along, extort as much food and diplomatic capital as it can only to throw out the inspectors and test a bomb

But compare the commentary in The Economist to the commentary in the Wall Street Journal, an editorial staff almost pathologically incapable of an intelligent thought.

But the problem is that throwing another lifeline to another Kim works at cross-purposes with what ought to be the basic U.S. goal of regime change.

Regime Change?  Really, what people outside of the delusional staff of the Editorial section of the Wall Street Journal believe that the United States, or any outside country can effect regime change in North Korea?  Oh, and the last time the U. S. did “regime change” was in Iraq.  How did that turn out? 

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