The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


North Korea is providing Iran with a excellent tutorial on how to operate as an infant member of the nuclear club. Those countries who express concern or who advocate sanctions against North Korean are threatened. Reuters reports on the NoKo’s latest comments:
"We will take strong countermeasures," said Song Il-ho, North Korean ambassador in charge of diplomatic normalization talks with Japan, according to a report by Japan's Kyodo news agency from Pyongyang.

"The specific contents will become clear if you keep watching," Song said. "We never speak empty words."

Japan, arguing that Pyongyang's nuclear weapons poses a direct threat to its safety, is expected to formally approve additional sanctions on Friday, including banning imports from the impoverished communist state and blocking North Korean ships from entering Japanese ports.

The NoKos recognize that in the bizarre world of international diplomacy, bellicose threats can be made with few real repercussions, and measured words of concern, when expressed by your adversaries, can be characterized as “acts of war.”

The world community is witnessing the unraveling of nuclear non-proliferation. The UN security council will act, but in its typical tepid fashion. In the US, the Democrats blame the Bush administration for failing to negotiate bilaterally with the NoKos. The Republicans blame the Clinton administration for entering into an agreement (brokered in 1994 by Jimmy Carter) that accomplished little except to buy time for the NoKo’s nuclear program. Recriminations are senseless – the facts on the ground are what matter.

In my view, 50 years of continuing diplomacy have not resulted in any moderation of the NoKo regime. The Chinese, acting in their own self-interest (understandable) don’t want to destabilize the NoKo regime because they fear a flood of starving North Koreans at their door step. The South Koreans fear that destabilization might lead to a desperate attack in which hundreds of thousands could be killed in the first days. These concerns are real, and the result is that NoKo— the poster child for failed welfare states with a starving population that survives on food and fuel handouts from China and South Korea—holds the trump cards. All you can do is shake your head.

There are, of course, ways to stop the NoKos, but they are draconian. The hermit kingdom can be toppled, and the way to do it is from the inside out. The catalysts, sad to say, are cold and hunger. The agent will be the NoKo populace, aided by the NoKo army. If all welfare to North Korea ceases (the onus here is on China), the populace will begin to starve in a matter of months and freeze as winter sets in. Some will argue that it isn’t fair that the NoKo populace should be made to suffer. They’re right, it isn’t fair, but it may be the only way to save the NoKo populace from a much greater catastrophe down the road.

But no one thinks “down the road,” and frankly, no one much cares about the NoKo populace. As someone once said, “nations do not have morals, they have interests.” And because these “interests” often conflict with those of other nations, effective multilateral action is difficult to achieve.

And the Mullahs in Iran watch, and learn, and smile.