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Developing a strategy to contain North Korea

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted October 16, 2006

Given the threat posed by North Korea's rogue regime and its history of manipulating the diplomatic process, any rational observer can draw only one conclusion: Diplomacy in and of itself cannot successfully tamp down the current nuclear peril; Effective military deterrence will be necessary in order to rein-in North Korea's nuclear ambitions and increasingly provocative actions. Let me be clear - I'm certainly not recommending an attack upon North Korea. What I am suggesting is that the power equation be re-jiggered in that region of the globe. Unfortunately, proliferation of nuclear weaponry will be the seminal threat to global security in the 21st Century, so we better get accustomed to dealing with it.     

Let's start with the fact that Japan and South Korea are most vulnerable to North Korean aggression. That being said, it would be wise for both Japan and South Korea to arm with nuclear weaponry in order to deter North Korea from nuking them. Japan currently indicates its reluctance to take on nukes, but it should certainly reconsider given the stakes. The international community has had significant experience with this cold-war strategy, and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works. That's precisely why North Korea and its allies, China and Russia, are so adamantly opposed to seeing Japan and South Korea "go nuclear". It would create profound leverage for those nations and a concomitant "Mexican-standoff" with North Korea.

Will MAD succeed with North Korea? Of course! That pot-bellied megalomaniac with the bouffant hairdo and stack heels is clearly not a candidate for suicide – You can bet your bottom dollar that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il is not going to initiate a nuclear strike against a nuclear armed Japan or South Korea, knowing that retaliation will be swift and sure. He doesn't want his nation – his power base – destroyed. North Korea is indeed a hellhole, but its Kim's hellhole. Moreover, Kim seems to enjoy his life, with the availability of decadent self-indulgence at his fingertips.

In contrast, the average North Korean is barely capable of survival. Suffice to say that Kim perpetrates myriad human rights violations against his populace including, but not limited to, kidnapping, keeping a harem of young girls, sanctioning brutality and murder for even minor infractions, and systematically starving civilians as food and other resources are slated for his military machine. Sadly, the North Koreans lacks the wherewithal to effectuate "regime change". And President Bush maintains that we have no intention of striking North Korea.  Therefore, it would seem that arming Japan and South Korea with nukes is our best option at this juncture.

How much time do we have to help remedy this situation? The government of Kim Jong-il is determined to hone its missile and nuclear technologies so that it can emerge as a significant power player on the international scene. Reportedly, Kim wants "respect". Moreover, North Korea is working in tandem with the Iranians, forming a synergistic effort that will advance both nations' warfare capabilities. Even if North Korea's recent nuclear test is determined to have "fizzled", there will be subsequent tests. Does anyone doubt it? It was only a few months ago, on July 5, 2006, that North Korea conducted seven tests on ballistic missiles, which demonstrate a compelling drive to develop medium and long range delivery systems. These missile tests took place within range of Japan, which certainly was unnerving for the Japanese who felt blatantly "at risk". That being said, it would be fair to say that something must be done to address the North Korean peril in a very timely fashion.

The UN Security Council has demonstrated "feelgoodism" and a show of unity by voting 15-0 in favor of imposing sanctions against North Korea for its illicit nuclear activities.  Unfortunately, the resolution has been greatly diluted, lacks sufficient ability to verify compliance, and is bereft of any real teeth. So it's essentially a case of symbolism over substance. That being said, the UN is looking toward China - North Korea's primary supporter - to contain Kim's regime. However, there's every reason to believe that China can't be trusted, and tacitly approves of North Korea's lawless actions. Clearly, North Korea would never buck its patron, China, which supplies most of its fuel and food.  Moreover, China and Russia have a history of being prime troublemakers that stir the pot, and aid and abet rogue regimes that create problems for the West.   

As can be expected in this run-up to the 2006 elections, the Democrats are out in full force, demagoging the crisis with North Korea and placing the blame squaring on the GOP and President Bush. The Democrats are especially annoyed about the Bush policy of "6-way talks" with North Korea that also include Russia, China, the US, Japan and South Korea. Bush maintains that it's necessary to include all the players of the region directly affected by North Korea's nuclear ambitions. However, the Democrats and the political Left have the chutzpa to demand one-on-one talks between the US and North Korea, despite its prior documented inadequacies. Curiously, this current stance contradicts the Left's usual criticism of the president for "going it alone" and failing to work with international alliances and coalitions, which is an inaccurate Leftist characterization of Bush in any event.

The truth of the matter is this: the Democrats are a bunch of hypocrites that will excoriate President Bush no matter what he does or says. For them, Bush can do no right, even if he attempts to abide by their demands. More pertinent to the discussion, one-on-one direct diplomacy with North Korea failed miserably when it was utilized by the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s. The Clinton appeasement deal negotiated by Jimmy Carter subsequently crashed and burned. North Korea received a substantial package of economic aid from the US – including nuclear technologies for "peaceful purposes" – in return for eschewing nuclear weaponry. But guess what? By 2000, it became evident that North Korea cheated on the deal and was developing nukes!  This is quite humorous given the fact that Bill Clinton's wife (and presidential wannabe), Senator Hillary Clinton, was eager to announce the "failed" Bush policy on North Korea to the media. Senator John McCain did an admirable job in this situation, stating: "I would remind Senator Clinton and other critics of the Bush administration policies that the framework agreement of the (Bill) Clinton administration was a failure."  If McCain had not set the record straight, certainly no one in the liberal mainstream would have provided that vital clarification. ESR

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.



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