Democracy Arsenal

« It's Official: Congressman Shays Lives in a Parallel Universe | Main | Foreign Policy, Post-Bush »

October 16, 2006

Where are we on North Korea
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Reading the reports on the UN sanctions resolution, the status of the US's effort to punish and isolate Pyongyang in the aftermath of what's now been confirmed to be an (albeit small scale) nuclear test is murky at best.   Here are some quick observations:

- The Administration is talking a good game about international unity, but actual common ground looks pretty scarce - Barely a day after the UNSC passed its resolution, China and South Korea are backing away from key elements involving border inspections and the withdrawal of support for collaborative economic development projects with Pyongyang.   Earlier last week the US backed off its proposals to provide for recourse to military action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if North Korea continues to flout the Council.  Upshot:  Washington managed to achieve a brief show of unity that barely masked underlying deep divisions.

- US efforts to steamroll opposition to its positions failed - Reading accounts of how the Chinese quickly disavowed any intention to implement the inspections regime called for by the resolution reminded me of my time at the UN.  On several occasions, after fierce negotiations with other delegations over controversial points, we would think we'd scored a big victory when they assented to our proposed language.  Days or weeks later we were flabbergasted holding near worthless pieces of paper when they claimed that the adopted language did not represent a change in their prior position, nor a commitment to do what the paper in question said.   These delegations had concluded that making noises of capitulation that would later be reversed was an easier route than continuing to fight off a US government bent on browbeating them into submission.   In my time I never saw this happen on a matter as visible and high-stakes as the North Korea resolution, but with Bolton in the US chair at the Council, I cannot say I am surprised.

- There seems little reason for Iran to be daunted by the prospect of being the Security Council's next target- The resumed debates over Iran's nuclear program will make even the fractious North Korea debate sound like the strains of Kumbaya.  The economic stakes are higher, and Tehran has skillfully situated itself in the midst of a bloc of anti-US developing countries that will provide some cover (like Venezuela which is battling for its own temporary UNSC seat).  The more the US tries to hold China and others' feet to the fire in implementing the North Korea resolution, the harder it may be to win agreement on a text dealing with Iran.

This is not the first time that developments over North Korea are not what they seem.  But its easy enough to criticize.  What should the Administration be doing differently to get better results in the Council?

- Since its pretty clear Bolton's heavy-handed approach hasn't achieved substantive gains, it would be best not to have him at the forefront of trying to shame China into delivering on its obligations.  How about trying some quiet diplomacy in Beijing so that if the Chinese do come around, they can do so without falling into the trap they are most likely to avoid, i.e. the appearance of submitting to US pressure.

- While we're at it, how about some lip-service to the idea of avoiding war?  Russia and China have repeatedly emphasized a desire to deescalate this conflict.  Some might portray that as a sign of weakness, but since Pyongyang now is indeed nuclear, pure reason dictates that the last thing we want to do is ratchet up tensions. 


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where are we on North Korea:


". . . since Pyongyang now is indeed nuclear, pure reason dictates that the last thing we want to do is ratchet up tensions" is exactly why they "went nuclear." Iran and others are taking notes, depend on it. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Call me your enemy and I'll be your enemy. It works in the house, in the town, in the nation and in the world. And I'll beat you.

The non-aligned nations (150 or so), the Shanghai Conference (with Russia, China and India) and the Muslim world--they're all against us. Sure, we can still buy votes in the UN, Germany and the UK, but the handwriting is on the wall.

Bush went out of his way to insult the prime minister of China on his last state visit. You don't treat one of your principal bankers that way and get away with it. Particularly a Chinese with five thousand years of civilization, compared to our what, two hundred years?

In North Korea, Bush, as he did with Iraq and is doing with Iran, actively seeks to discredit the Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning IAEA.

NORK's nuclear devices are apparently made witb low-grade plutonium, not enriched uranium.

According to physicist Gordon Prather: When Bush became President, Iran, Iraq and North Korea were all certified by the IAEA to be nuke free. Iran and Iraq still are.

My take would be that it's the "touchy-feely" diplomatic efforts at alliance building that have failed. The real question is, and has always been: "What might the US do to influence the Chinese to pressure or change the NoKo regime?" And there's really only one thing: give the green light to Japan (and Taiwan and S. Korea) to go nuclear. That would really complicate the lives of the Chinese junta.

There's currently no primary evidence that we're playing this, our only, card. However this report seems to suggest that China might be be contemplating some not-so-nice consequences for NoKo. Did we have a hand in it, by surreptitiously playing the Japan card? It's one possibility...

BTW, I just don't understand why you think sweet-talking national governments who have their own national interests is going to sway their policies. If they already had an incentive for establishing an alliance that might make some sense, but what's the incentive for China? The idea of "saving face" just doesn't cut it. These are ruthless people, and only if their position of dominance was threatened would they care about "face".

The U.S. was first to not comply with the 1994 agreement with North Korea. Have a quick look at the agreement.
It is very short and omits any mention of controlling non-plutonium research i.e. uranium

The look at this FOXNEWS interview from June 2001.,2933,26503,00.html

The North Koreans wanted communication and all they got were threats from Bush and no funding from the Republican congress for the light water reactors

Demosophist, the CENTCOM plant, goes crazy again talking about "touchy-feely" diplomacy--practiced by Bush? No, it's just smoke. And racism--referring to the "Chinese junta." How about the American junta?

CENTCOM is against diplomacy and all for war, anywhere, anytime, as long as it doesn't involve their own sorry butts. War is hazardous to civilians, particularly women and children, but to neocon bullies it's the only way to go. They're right, don't you know, and the people they pick on are ruthless. In other words they kind of get things backwards. They're into domination--get out the leather and spurs for the demented ones.

These xenophobes really need to nget out more and se the world--the world that now hates the US government for being the ugly Americans that the CENTCOM types represent.

I know the game from my friends and first my friends give me a lot Sho Mun and after that i go to earn the Sho Online gold alone, i find that the Sho gold is very interesting and the i like to buy Sho Online gold alone very much. So i think if you join ue to play the game you will like the game too.

I am so happy to get some Tales Of Pirates gold and the Tales Of Pirates money is given by my close friend who tells me that the cheap Tales Of Pirates gold is the basis to enter into the game. Therefore, I should buy Tales Of Pirates Gold with the spare money.

When I have seal cegel, I was just told you, I decide to earnsealonline cegel, that is so interesting.

Once I played silkroad, I did not know how to get strong, someone told me that you must have silkroad gold. He gave me some sro gold.

You are a nice girl silkroad gold, you play the game is right sro gold.

Do you like playing in the game where you need to use runescape gold, when you do not buy runescape,

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use