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I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

News this week 02/13 - 02/19 - North Korean nukes

North Korean Paranoia

North Korea is the ultimate in totalitarian feudal societies, where its leadership maintains loyalty through lavish perks and brutal repression of any opposition, or even if they just need a patsy to blame their bad behavior on (re: the chopping down of a tree in the DMZ in the 1970s nearly lead to war with the US - when they blinked, several senior NK generals were executed). NK is paranoid in believing that the US is just looking for an excuse to attack, which actually may end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their diplomacy is one of brinkmanship and aggressive posturing; their leader is worshipped as a god.

NK long-standing goals are financial aid, diplomatic recognition, and a non-aggression treaty with Washington.

NK and the US are both digging in their heels. Neither is blinking.

NK raised the negotiating ante last week by publicly declaring it had nukes and a refusal to return to six-nation talks. Most nations believe NK has had nukes for a decade.

The China Card

China has considerable leverage with North Korea because it supplies NK with critical fuel (80% of NK's energy) and food supplies and often uses that leverage to threaten instability on the Korean Peninsula to further other strategic objectives without getting its own hands dirty. But recently, with North Korea's hell-bent pursuit of nuclear weapons, China is learning that having a 'bad boy' ace-card is often worse than a double-edged sword. China, no less than any other country within range of North Korean missles, wants a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. This new declaration (ie threat) may have been aimed at China as much as it was at US

2/13 - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a phone call China will push for NK to return to the six-nation talks.
2/12 - China has allowed criticism of North Korea and its declaration that it has nuclear weapons to flow freely in state media and in Chinese internet chat rooms. Until now, China has denied NK was really pursuing nukes.

The Six-Nation Talks

From the beginning, the Bush Administration rejected bilateral talks with North Korea in favor of regional six nation talks, including US, China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia. China had been convinced to convince North Korea to accept the six nation talks, which did so unwillingly. In the past two years, there have been three rounds of fruitless talks.

Now, North Korea is using its public "We have nukes" announcement to force a return to bilateral talks.

2/12 - The US rejected North Korean demands for bilateral talks and is downplaying NK's nuke threat.
- Rice assures that the US has no intention of attacking NK
- US admin officials are beginning to talk about referring this to the UN for international sanctions against NK
- Japan objects to international sanctions claiming NK would not negotiate then.

South Korean viewpoint

South Korea is understandable nervous about NK. Seoul is within long-range artillery fire from NK batteries and it is common knowledge that NK uses the proximity of four thousand railed artillery pieces pointed at SK heads as a bargaining chip in gaining concessions from other countries. Casualty estimates for just the first day of war are over 1 million.

2/12 - According to Chosunilbo, a conservative SK newspaper, "Washington views (NK's nuke) statement as essentially negotiating rhetoric"

American Domestic Politics

The two parties have very divergent views on how to handle NK and, separately, China. The Democrats favor negotiation and inducements and accuse the Republicans of saber rattling; the Republicans favor negotiation through strength and accuse the Democrats of bribery and caving to NK threats.

2/13 - Sen. Joseph Biden (D - Delaware), ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that China, South Korea and Japan -- "have got to be ready to use sticks, and we have to be willing to use a few more carrots."


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