August 01, 2003
NORTH KOREA UPDATE....Some hopeful news on the North Korea front. Apparently the North Koreans have finally given in to U.S. demands that negotiations be multilateral, not bilateral:
Korea appears to have accepted a plan to engage in multilateral talks
over its nuclear weapons programs, clearing the way for the
administration to formally provide its solution for ending the crisis,
U.S. officials said yesterday.
....The prospect of new talks will require U.S. officials to settle
on a strategy for persuading the North Koreans to give up their effort
to produce nuclear weapons. The issue has deeply split the
administration, with some officials urging an aggressive approach that
offers North Korea few incentives to give up its weapons while others
are pushing to offer a multilateral guarantee that North Korea, if it
agrees to back down, will not face an unprovoked attack.
....One approach under consideration would promise North Korea that
all the other nations at the table could jointly provide assurances of
nonaggression, as the first stage of a larger discussion on future
economic and political relations. North Korea has long demanded that the
United States sign a nonaggression pact, but appearing to give in to
that demand is opposed by some key members of the administration.
Another proposal, circulating among National Security Council staff
members, would call on North Korea to take the first step in terms of
declaring what weapon programs it has and then offering to eliminate
Some officials believe the administration should also dangle carrots,
which could include energy assistance, development aid, participation
in international financial institutions, removal of sanctions and
normalization of relations. But those incentives would also be tied to
specific progress by North Korea on other issues, such as human rights.
is a positive step, even though multilateral negotiations are almost
certain to be slower and more cumbersome than bilateral ones. Any talks
are better than no talks.
This is also going to be a real showcase for differences between the
administration's hawks and realists. In the end, however, I have to
figure that if the realists can cut a halfway decent deal Bush will take
it. Letting this crisis linger can only be bad news for him.
Posted by Kevin Drum at August 1, 2003 10:37 AM
How about a Well Done W for forcing a multilateral, international approach to solving this problem?
Well Done W, for forcing a multilateral, international approach to solving this problem.
A couple of ways to look at this:
1) A victory for Bush's policy of refusal to meet.
2) NK agreeing to meet after gaining enough time to actually manufacture a nuclear weapon.
It's been awhile since they took those rods out, you know.
Well Done W, for forcing a multilateral, international approach to solving this problem.
Thanks ChrisL, your check is in the mail.
And I'll be the first to say that if indeed this is the culmination
of a well thought-out plan that has been consistant within the
administration since the beginning (say, since they confronted NK about
uranium programs), rather than a lucky break coming at the tail end of a
bunch of bone-headed maneuvers and regretful miscalculations, then good
job. Of course it will be presented as the former, but it's just as
likely to be the latter. In whatever case though it's good news.
But much awaits to be seen.
Now, if "conservatives" could stop blaming Clinton for NK we might be able to move on the land of frank assessment.
Where's the kudos for the People's Republic of China, who recently sent a high-level envoy to Pyongyang?
Where's the kudos for the People's Republic of China, who recently sent a high-level envoy to Pyongyang?
Kudo's to the PRC!
Where's my check?
You'll get it just as soon as I get my rebate check. ;)
I think they'll cut a deal...
Well, it's not a solution yet and I'm pessimistic but it's definitely
a good sign....I don't know if time was on our side here--I hope the
benefits of having China, Japan et. al. involved outweigh whatever
plutonium processing went on in the intervening months. My gut feeling
is that it doesn't, but I just don't know enough to be sure.
Doesn't our armed forces deployment in Iraq considerably weaken our
bargaining power? Based on my limited understanding, we don't have
enough troops to go into Korea without a draft. Can someone who knows
more about the military than I do tell me?
Anything that stops Kim Jong-Il from having a stockpile of nuclear
weapons has my enthusiastic suppport. Well, as near to anything as
I posted about this yesterday afternoon, pointing out that it's way too early to celebrate anything, for two reasons.
The first is the Bush administration. As the article Kevin posted notes, "The
prospect of new talks will require U.S. officials to settle on a
strategy for persuading the North Koreans to give up their effort to
produce nuclear weapons." They've been paralyzed for two and a half
years; what reason is there to think that they'll settle on a strategy
within the next month?
It's entirely likely that Dubya will respond to knee-jerk
cheerleading like spc67's (which I'm sure is being echoed by hawks
within the administration) by refusing to compromise in any way toward a
solution, figuring that if the North Koreans "caved" once, all the U.S.
has to do is wait for them to cave again. This intransigence will, as
it has so far, cover up the lack of a thought-out strategy.
The second reason is we don't know what other cards the North Koreans
intend to play. Everybody thought progress was being made a few months
ago, when they met with the U.S. and China -- until the North Koreans
used the first day of the talks to taunt us, saying "We've got nuclear
weapons, what are you going to do about it?" Who knows what surprise
they have in store for us this time?
I hope the benefits of having China, Japan et. al. involved
outweigh whatever plutonium processing went on in the intervening
That point deserves to be underlined.
If the North Koreans have in fact reprocessed the plutonium that was
under seal by the IAEA a year ago (and that the Clinton administration
threatened war in the 1990s to keep them from reprocessing), then the
Bush policy of "talk tough, but do nothing" so far has been a total and
extraordinarily dangerous failure.
Defense of Bush NK policy:
As far as I can tell, NK has pretty much been violating the 1994 framework since it was agreed to.
This is good news indeed, although talking is not that useful unless
you have goals, and it's hard to see what kind of agreement would
reassure us short of regime change and/or the complete dismantling of
the NK nuclear program (including all so-called peaceful uses).
Anything else will be hell to verify and put us where we were with Iraq
The US Army posture really has little to do with the situation about what can be done
The fact that upwards of 10,000 NK artillery pieces are within
shooting distance of Seoul has everything to do with the military
situation. The fact that the SK capitol plus a huge chunk of SK's
population and economic engine is held captive to destruction limits all
courses of action by the US and SK (and even the Japanese ;-).
If war ever breaks out, the ROK army has the manpower to eventually
retake the country if the NK advance can be slowed in the first few
days. The dominant US contribution would be airpower initially, in
slowing the advance. Coincidentally, it's not airplanes that are needed
in Iraq now.
But the US Armor would be useful to retake Korea, and the two best equipped armor division are still in Iraq...
A little more detail for Katherine -- I recall reading that because
our troop deployments are stretched so thin, a unit earmarked as a
"strategic reserve" in case of trouble in Korea is going to Iraq in
September to replace current troops. Those troops will then become the
"reserve" for Korea, for better or worse.
Let's all get the timeline straight. This is a god rundown of it all:
There's a couple of maybes. Maybe they began actually violating the
letter of the agreement not long after signing by negotiating with
Pakistan, or maybe they only started violating around 1997-98, when they
actually started getting uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan.
The Republican congress delayed and stalled the AF as much as they
could, undermining the clinton foreign policy and most likely agravating
the situation. Some figure the move to Uranium had a lot to do with us
not upholding our end of the bargain- which we most certainly did not.
So let's get off the "agreed framework as a failure" line of BS,
shall we? If everyone is so big to demand critics slap GW on the back
for this one, they need to look in a mirror and slap Clinton on the back
for a program that successfully curbed plutonium production for years.
First of all, between now and the day these talks are supposed to
start, the DPRK will have hundreds of opportunities to back out. Are we
to think that they will miss them *all*?
Next, remember what the DPRK seems to understand by the word
"negotiations": posturing and denunciation. Just getting everyone
sitting down in the same room, unlikely as that is, doesn't mean that
any work can or will get done.
Finally, note that, as long as Mr. Bush and his hirelings are
bombarding the DPRK with periodic statements of unrealistic demands and
baffled disgust, they are doing neither more nor less than their
constituents require them to do.
According to Fred Kaplan in Slate today,
it appears to be the administration that's doing the compromising (or,
more accurately, caving in on some unreasonable demands), not the North
That Kaplan article is great. Thanks, Haggai.
I think it is a sad commentary on North Korea's dealings with us that
we can look on their agreement to actually come to the table with all
the interested parties as huge progress.
Call me naive (or ignorant of weapons and tactics), but I find it
hard to believe that we haven't come up with a solution to the artillery
trained at Seoul. We've had to chew on this problem for close to what,
50 years? And our military has no solution?
I realize that the solution might well involve nukes, but still..
We could nuke the known artillery positions, but there would be major
diplomatic and radiologic fallout spread all over in such an event.
For as much as most liberals don't like Steve Den Beste, he's got
what I think is yet another intelligent post on the NK situation.
Consider reading his (suprise suprise) very long essay.
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