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

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Niccolo and the NoKos

For decades, U.S. Presidents have made weak attempts to control the nuclear ambitions of the Hermit Kingdom—North Korea (NoKo). Some have naively tried to negotiate a cessation in nuclear/missile development, forgetting that good faith negotiations with bad/dishonest/unhinged actors never lead to a satisfactory result. Others have tried sanctions, gone to a feckless U.N. (whose resolutions are a joke), or tried to get the NoKo patron, China, to intercede. Nothing has worked.

Through this, the Kim dynasty has extracted billions in aid with hollow promises to behave, using the money to further develop it military while allowing its people to (literally) starve. NoKo, like Iran* in the Middle East, poses a legitimate threat to the West and a growing threat to our allies in the region. Yet every president from Reagan to Obama has kicked the can down the road.

We're now at the end of the road. Donald Trump is left to clean up this mess, and the clean up will be anything by easy.

Claudia Rosett expresses the frustration of many when she writes:
Enough, already. There is no safe way to end the North Korean menace, but the threats from Kim Jong Un's regime are amplifying at a clip that suggests it is even more dangerous to allow the Kim regime to carry on. While the world has watched, for years — and while the United Nations Security Council has passed one sanctions resolution after another — North Korea has not only been carrying out ballistic missile and nuclear tests, but enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium to amass ever more bomb fuel. As the Journal editorial also notes, North Korea by now "has an estimated 20 nuclear warheads as well as chemical and biological weapons."

The threat is not solely that North Korea — well versed in shakedown rackets — could target the U.S. with nuclear-tipped ICBMs, or that North Korea can add nuclear weapons to the massive arsenal with which it has long threatened Seoul.

A further danger is that North Korea could proliferate its advancing nuclear missile technology, or even the weapons themselves, to other rogue states, such as Iran — with which Pyongyang has trafficked and cooperated for decades in missile development, and according to some press accounts, in nuclear weapons development as well.
One has to wonder how someone like Niccolo Machiavelli might handle the NoKo situation. Let me channel The Prince for a moment and give it a try:
When a Prince is faced with an implacable enemy who means him harm, but is precluded from acting directly against the enemy (for whatever reasons), it is best to look elsewhere for a solution. Look to the enemy's friends and benefactors. Speak with them in private, offering benefits or punishments, depending on the atmosphere of the meeting. If possible, purchase their allegiance with offers that will make them act against the best interests of the enemy. Any moneys spent will be far smaller than the cost of war.

If necessary, threaten punishments that will hurt the interests of enemy's friends and benefactors, their power, and their wealth. But do not make empty threats. Threats of punishment once made must be executed without delay.

And if the Prince asks, "What if my overtures to my enemy's friends and benefactors fail.

Then answer -- make overtures to the enemies of your enemy's friends and benefactors. Provide them with weapons or other benefits that will cause your enemy's friends and benefactors alarm or danger.Then ask your enemy's friends and benefactors to reconsider their position.

At the same time, work to undermine the enemy, sabotaging his trade with others, his banking activities and the allegiance of his own people. Go quiet. Do not respond to your enemy's provocations. Your silence may make him pause.

And if the Prince asks, "What if all of these things fail?"

Then answer -- act to destroy the enemy with no remorse. Do it with the full power that is available to the Prince and accept the consequences, no matter how severe. If the threat is allowed to grow, the consequences will be far, far worse for the Prince.

To do nothing but to use words, to delay in the hope that things will resolve themselves, or to hope that other might intercede are all signs of weakness that strengthen the enemy and causes him to act against the Prince's best interests.
It appears that Donald Trump and his senior advisors have channeled the same imaginary Machiavellian quote. Let's hope they follow it without waivering.


* Barack Obama's "Iran Deal" has put the same nuclear threat into play in the Middle East. His irresponsible and clearly ineffective appeasement of the Mullahs will present future presidents with the same bleak options that currently face Donald Trump. Shame!