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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is anyone surprised by North Korea anymore?

North Korea is one of those international problems that no one knows how to fix and everyone hopes will go away by itself. What is the problem? Basically the root of the difficulty is that North Korea is not a rational actor on the world stage. The entirety of their foreign policy is about keeping the present regime in power, and the people can eat cake.

Recently, Pyongyang has declared that they will stop disabling their nuclear facilities and possibly reopen their weapon grade capability. And why shouldn’t they? Every time they do this they end up getting exactly or close to what they want. Even China is getting fed up with them, but Beijing is too emotionally committed to North Korea to ditch them. After all it was the massive Chinese sacrifice in bodies that created North Korea.

The North Korean government can handle the isolation from the outside world. It keeps their population ignorant and on the verge of starvation. Such a population is easier to control than if they had access to dangerous ideas. So they can afford to piss everyone off like no one else. They simply don’t care.

At the same time what are the options from the point of view of the United States, or China, Russia and Japan for that matter. Especially Japan, North Korea posses a constant security threat to Japan. North Korean pirates use to kidnap Japanese off the streets and force them to work in North Korea. If North Korea does launch nuclear weapons, it won’t be against the United States or South Korea, it will be against Japan.

There is not much that the world can do. They can’t invade a country with the fourth largest military, and sanctions are useless. Isolating them diplomatically hasn’t worked and giving into their demands has been a complete failure. You can’t negotiate with someone who will break their deal in a couple of months.

The only hope is that the whole issue goes away when Kim Jong-il dies, but even that is assuming that the problem doesn’t go deeper than the present leadership.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on August 27, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink


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Hugh: Welcome aboard. I believe this is your first post on the Shotgun. You should introduce yourself to the community here. Who are you, what do you do, etc.?


Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-08-27 11:11:20 PM

Where's Reagan when we need him? Carry on as though the North Korean problem does not exist, as we are doing now. But be prepared to fight a terrible war. (Is there another kind of war?)

Posted by: dewp | 2008-08-27 11:38:08 PM

Only Obama can resolve this. He is the Messiah. Bow before him! :)

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-08-28 7:21:36 AM

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