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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, October 21, 2002

What Was North Korea Thinking?

So wonders the Times.

"Experts who disagree on many other matters concerning North Korea say decision making in the country whose future holds the key to peace and stability in northeast Asia is driven by an impulse for survival amid ever constricting options...

For years, North Korea has perfected a kind of bloodcurdling official polemics used by the national radio and newspapers to denounce the United States, South Korea and Japan, and to warn its enemies that they will suffer humiliating defeat if they dare attack."

As an aside, we see that in blogdom ALL the time. Doesn't always deter folks, however.

"Faced with the urgent need to fend off economic collapse, Mr. Kim's confession of a uranium-based nuclear weapons program appears to many experts to have been a pragmatic, if ultimately misguided response to an insurmountable obstacle: a Bush Administration that had little interest in engagement."

Oh, man, is the Times admitting that this simplistic "axis of evil" stuff might be working?

"Admission of the nuclear program rather than denial, appears to have been intended to "persuade the world that Kim Jong Il is a new kind of leader, and his leadership does not resort to terrorist means, or secrecy," said Han S. Park, director of the Center for the Study of Global Issues at the University of Georgia.

Now, here is a well informed deep thinker:

""North Korea has always wanted to pursue normalization with the United States, and however awkwardly, now they are bargaining," said Selig S. Harrison, director of the National Security Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington. "What they are saying is that they are prepared to negotiate an end to all nuclear activity and allow inspections, if we agree to two things: not to threaten them militarily and to pursue normalized relations."

Mr. Harrison, who is the author of "Korean Endgame: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement," said Pyongyang's position was spelled out to him this week by the country's representative to the United Nations."

So, if we resume the 1994 deal, the North Koreans will too, and this time they really, really mean it? Look, I accept that this will be solved diplomatically, but I wonder just how happy the North Korean leadership will be with the solution. We may have reached a point where the neighboring powers announce that it is over. My solution - give Kim Jong Il and his family and friends $10 Bilion and an island somewhere. No trials, no hassle, just go. Worked for Marcos, sort of.

I skipped over an important part of the story: a month ago, the North Koreans came clean with the Japanese about Japanese nationals that were kidnapped in the late 70's. The initial Japanese reaction was "oh good, we are making progress with our relationship with these inscrutable North Koreans". As more press attention turns to the actual stories of these people, popular opinion in Japan seems to be turning towards revulsion - just who are these barbarians running North Korea?

So, not a good news-month for North Korea. I doubt either China or Russia wants kooks with nukes on their border. Hence, the MinuteMan Plan for East Asia - pay them off, good-bye.

UPDATE: Drezner chimes in. But how seriously can we take a guy who doesn't like the "Golden Parachute" idea for the N Koreans rulers? Kim has never left Korea, there is no reason to think he likes to travel... hey, George Bush hardly went abroad prior to has election! Anyway, never stop learning! Step out and see the world! How can you keep Kim down on the farm, now that he's seen Paree! I Love New York! Let's get this guy traveling. We'll all like it.

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