Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Prepare for endgame in North Korea: The US and China should pool ideas on the nuclear threat

I once gave a little thought to preparing for the end game a long, long time ago (see the monograph a this link http://db.tt/vpUkyeXH).  Maybe now we can get more people thinking about it.  But the end game is bigger than the nuclear threat.


March 11, 2013 7:09 pm
Prepare for endgame in North Korea

By Gideon Rachman
The US and China should pool ideas on the nuclear threat

“Our intercontinental ballistic missiles are on standby ... If we push the button, they will blast off and their barrage will turn Washington, the stronghold of American imperialists and the nest of evil ... into a sea of fire.”

That is the kind of rhetoric that you might expect from a Dr Evil figure in a Hollywood film. Unfortunately, that threat to incinerate Washington was issued, just last week, by a real person, in a real country, with real nuclear weapons.

The chilling statement by Kang Pyo-yong, North Korea’s deputy defence minister, brought to mind President George W. Bush’s famous pledge that “the United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons”. Mr Bush’s “axis of evil” speech in 2002 has been widely denounced as the apogee of idiocy – leading to a misbegotten war in Iraq. But, in the light of North Korea’s threat, Mr Bush’s concerns seem rather prescient.

Despite its recent tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, few experts think that North Korea is yet capable of hitting the US with a nuclear weapon. But South Korea is clearly at risk, as is Japan. North Korea could also pass nukes on to Iran or to terrorist groups. The North Koreans have sponsored terrorist attacks overseas in the past – and Iranian observers are thought to have been present at the most recent nuclear test.

So it is clear that Mr Bush was identifying a real threat when he linked the dangers of rogue states, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The problem is that, 11 years on, no one has found an effective response.

Mr Bush’s own approach – based on armed intervention – failed in Iraq, not least because the weapons did not exist. Barack Obama’s strategy – based on sanctions and diplomacy – is failing in Iran. And China’s approach – based on dialogue and persuasion – is failing in North Korea.

It might seem harsh to blame China for the current state of affairs in North Korea. Others – notably the Americans and South Koreans – have had no more success. But North Korea is both a neighbour and a close ally of China, as well as being utterly dependent on Chinese economic largesse. To date, the Chinese have relied on quiet diplomacy. The Global Times, a Chinese newspaper, was peddling the traditional line when it recently declared that the nuclear crisis should be dealt with by “dialogue and negotiations, instead of confrontation”. But China’s decision to back tougher UN sanctions last week is a tacit acknowledgment that this approach has failed.
(Continued at the link below)

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