Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cheat and retreat............

If at first you do not succeed, try, try, again.

Spurred by the Chinese the Six Party talks have tentatively inked a deal to stop DPRK nuclear production. The key word is tentative, because the deal still has to get the approval of the respective governments-especially those who will have to fork over fuel oil-however as others have noted it will probably be approved.

And in about 2 years it will ultimately fail.

I'm still very busy with work on this trip-got about 2 more days to go, however I did want to comment very briefly.

I have mixed feelings about the issue of North Korea. I think China really pushed them to settle because they do not want a confrontation with the US, and at the same time they do not want North Korea to implode. There were some indicators that life was not well in the hermit kingdom. Particulalry when they kept beating the point about getting fuel oil-well there has to be a reason for that. China does not want Korea to unify-they would prefer to have the DPRK as a "buffer" state. Its a position that I have never understood. If I were a Chinese leader I would want to get rid of the baggage the Kim Jong Il represents. A "solution" to the division of Korea would provide them with a prime excuse to lobby for reductions of US troops in Asia. That would support Chinese long term goals and it would give them a stronger hand vis a vis Taiwan. Keeping Kim Jong Il and the North virutally guarantees a large US military presence in the region. Which is good for the rest of the region but not for China.

One other thing. Its clear that in this case, the weight of the Iraq War probably helped the Americans come around to a position that just two years ago they said they never would accept. The US is already in 4 wars, it really does not want to start another one. Especially one that would kill a lot of Koreans and Americans. From GI Korea:

President Bush hasn’t given this deal an okay yet, but it appears that the Bush Administration so eager for the appearance of a foreign policy success they are willing to go the way of President Clinton and trust the North Koreans to uphold to this deal and work towards future disarmament. I have said before I credit Clinton with trying diplomacy even though it failed, but if President Bush agrees to this deal he has no excuses for when it ultimately fails.

The thing is President Bush will probably be out of office when this thing fails just like Clinton was. The North Koreans will uphold the deal and shut down their reactor, but they will continue to use their discussion and delay tactics to hold up the talks to dismantle their half dozen nukes they have now. While all the discussion is going on, North Korea will use the influx of cash they will be receiving from the international community for their "freeze" to advance their ballistic missile program to be able to handle a nuclear warhead that can reach the US mainland.

Mark my words if the US agrees to this "freeze", in 2010 under the next US president we will be discussing this same thing again when North Korea kicks out the inspectors and demands more blackmail, but by this time they will be able to threaten the US and neighboring countries with nuclear weapons that can be launched on one of their ballistic missiles. The blackmail will be much steeper than it is now and it won’t be the future president’s fault, it will be this one.


Its not that I am advocating attacking North Korea-I think we do have to wait for it to fall apart-however I am not sure what the US got for its money. Except to buy time so that it can have freedom to maneuver in Iraq. In the grand scheme of things, the Korean situation is more important for the US-I've never understood GWB's fixation on Iraq-and we just don't have the flexibilty that we should have.

No more time-got to run back to work. Here are some better thoughts than mine about the "deal":

Marmot

GI Korea

One Free Korea

Lost Nomad

More to come later this week..............

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