Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korea Missile Tests

North Korea finally got around to launching those missiles it's had sitting around for a week or so now, earning international condemnation as a result:

Japan slapped limited economic sanctions on North Korea Wednesday and moved with the United States to condemn Pyongyang at the U.N. Security Council after the Stalinist state unnerved the region by test launching a barrage of least seven missiles.

In Washington, President Bush said the missile tests have further isolated North Korea from the rest of the world, which he said was "sad for the people of North Korea."

Earlier, the United States and Japan urged the Security Council to denounce the missile tests swiftly in strong terms. The U.S. envoy to the world body said none of the council's 15 members defended the North Korean action at a hastily called meeting of the Security Council in New York.

North Korea has nothing in the world approaching an "ally", and being as the country is run by an isolated, backwards and violent regime, hardly anyone is sympathetic to North Korea's claims to national security concerns.

William Arkin gives the Bush administration credit for it's low-key response:

North Korea definitely shouldn’t be rewarded for its tantrum, and punishing it is also a certain type of reward. No instead, we should cautiously ignore the Muddled Kingdom, work to remove it from the front pages, let its neighbors take the diplomatic lead, shake our heads in exasperation at what can only be described as really bad behavior of no true consequence, and then build a strategy to eliminate the country Eastern European-style, circa 1990.

Certainly he's correct that North Korea is desperate for attention. There's speculation that North Korea has ramped up the missile tests because Iran's getting all of the attention as of late. Of course North Korea's motivations are not the same as Iran's. North Korea is suspected of already having nukes; Iran wants them. North Korea is most likely making noise so it can get something in return; Iran just wants it's nukes, unless somebody can persuade it with it a deal it can't say no to. What I don't really agree with him about is letting others take the lead on diplomacy. That's what's gotten us stalled six-party talks for the last seven months. No, North Korea wants us to be involved, because for one reason or another they don't feel like they can get what they want without us involved, whether it be some sort of security assurance, food aid, nuclear energy assitance, etc. We can't really go rushing to talk to them now, or North Korea will (rightly) conclude that firing off a few missiles-even ineffective ones-is what it takes to get things moving. But simply backing off and letting things sit at the status quo, is not the solution. Perhaps next time North Korea-which seems unfazed by sanctions as they are unconcerned with how many of their own people starve-will decide that it needs to launch more effective missiles, with longer range, in our general direction. Then things could get hairier than they are now, and the more easily excitable among us will start calling for strikes on North Korea or something. No, we should be involved with North Korea, whether it's behind the scenes, in front of the scenese, low-key, whatever. To do otherwise is to simply continue the way things have been going, and that's untenable and unwise.


adam said...

Yes, our lack-of-stategy strategy towards North Korea is no longer tenable.

suresh sheth said...

Unless and until US and Japan hold China's feet to fire, North Korean missile and nuclear weapons dance will continue. North Korea can not survive even for a day without China's assistance. US and Japan have bought the Chinese baloney that collapse of North Korean regime will flood China with North Korean refugees. North Korean refugees will not flood China any more than East Germans or Russians flooded West Germany or Europe upon collapse of East Germany or Soviet Union.

Afterall China provides not just economic but even military help to North Korea. Thus North Korea is nothing but a puppet created and controlled by China. China creates need for herself by getting North Korean puppet to dance whenever China wants it. North Korea could not have extracted plutonium from spent fuel if China would not have provided necessary chemical for it. Atleast eight Chinese government companies are engaged in providing military help to North Korea.

China is also Pakistan's all weather military ally. Pakistan could not have dared to supply and North Korea could not have dared to aquire nuclear technology if China would have objected.

Time has come for US to call on China to let go North Korea so that two Koreas can unite, just like it happened in case of Soviet Union and Germany.

Nat-Wu said...

The question is, what pressure can we put on China? I agree that China is a problem, but they're also a behemoth, and unlike the Soviets they won't collapse because of their own foibles. Obviously one angle is to put sanctions on trade, but that works both ways. No more everyday low prices at Wal-Mart. Again, not that I have a problem with that (I don't shop there anyway), but a lot of Republicans will, and remember what party our "Dear Leader" belongs to. Trade sanctions, probably our best weapon, is genearally untenable to conservatives when it doesn't benefit US industry (although notice they don't shy from protectionism either, a la the steel situation).

What's helpful to remember though, is that China doesn't actually want anyone fighting any more than we do. They don't want N. Korea deciding to go nuke anybody. I don't know if there's anything we could offer the Chinese to put more pressure on them, but if we could, that might be the better course.