Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No Ko No Go

I just have a few points on North Korea now that Kim Jong-il has managed to get attention again by threatening to launch an ICBM capable of hitting the U.S. First, despite the Democrats wild-eyed cries for Bush to do anything besides deal with Iraq (well now Iran), there is not much the U.S can do with North Korea except make the situation worse. There are two ways to deal with foreign problems, diplomacy or force, and neither is a serious option for the U.S. with North Korea.

Diplomacy - For diplomacy to work, we have to have all the regional powers working with us. In the case of North Korea, only Japan is really supportive, but for historical reasons there is not much they can do. South Korea is neutral but moving slowly towards a more pro-North policy (think Sunshine). The major problem is the Chinese. They support North Korea diplomatically and by providing just enough food and fuel to keep the regime in power. Since there is no unified diplomatic front, and since China provides Kim with just enough to survive, there is no possibility of resolving the issue diplomatically at this time.

Military - While we have various military options for stopping North Korea, without the support of South Korea none of them are practical. South Korea will not support any as they all risk a war with North Korea which would be very expensive in lives, property, and money; none of which a South Korean economy still recovering from 1998 can handle. Further, any war would almost assuredly end with the collapse of North Korea and re-unification. Sounds good, but the South Koreans really do not want it because they don’t have the money or inclination to bring North Korea up to their level (compare to the problems Germany had, East Germany was ¼ the population of the West and ½ the income, North Korea is ½ the population of the South and around 1/15 the income).

Since it is too late to improve the situation, all we can do now is not make the situation any worse. We can avoid pass mistakes such as giving North Korean regime food and fuel aid that has allowed them to prolong their time in power. It was also probably a good idea to not have given them the nuclear technology that made it easier to develop nuclear weapons. All we are left with now is to continue building up missile defenses, prepare to give Japan or South Korea nuclear weapons, continue our pull out from South Korean so that fewer Americans die should the North Koreans start a war at the time of their own choosing, and keep up the anti-proliferation patrols around North Korea.
Due to the mistakes of the Clinton Administration in dealing with this issue, we have little hope of starving them out or possibly forging a verifiable agreement. Essentially all we can can do is protect ourselves and make South Korea and China pay most of the price since they have prevented us from doing anything before they aquired nukes and ballistic missiles.

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