After weeks of US hectoring and badgering Pyongyang, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK aka North Korea] spoke up. Dismissing firmly US secretary of state Hillary Clinton taunting and brimades and bromides and her readings in pop psychology on behaviour, the DPRK has dotted its own i's and crossed its own t's; it cut through the morass of US verbiage, and has called for direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington to discuss issues of common concern.
For Pyongyang ologists, the DPRK's response should alert them to one important and cardinal point: gone are the speculations about Kim Jong il's succession, any conflicts in the minds of the Workers' Party elite, for the internal debate is over. It is evident that Kim Jong il is in complete command, and rumours to his suffering from a virulent form of cancer, must needs be buried in the muck and mire of gossip from which they sprang.
If US president Barack Obama [BHO] was counting on relying on China as a lever to persuade North Korea to rejoin the six party talks in Beijing. Kim Jong il knocks the pins from under that tack. No one seemed to consider the seriousness of Mr. Kim's words when he stated simply and cleared that the DPRK wouldn't return to those multiparty discussions, after BHO's administration pushed to sanctions on two occasions in the US Security Council. Once for violation of Resolution 1718 for launching a satellite on a long range rocket which had questionable legal footing; the other time, for testing a 'nuclear' device which scientifically no one, not even 200 nuclear sensors posted worldwide, could find traces of uranium fallout. ['Science' published an article by a Mr. Clery who seriously questioned that Pyongyang had detonated a nuclear device.]. The US managed to ram through Resolution 1879 calling for tighter sanctions, for the boarding of North Korean vessels on the high seas, which Pyongyang immediately denounced as a 'causus belli', freezing of foreign bank accounts, so on and on. North Korea's ally China in a snit, voted for both resolutions. By not returning to Beijing, China has 'lost face'; Pyongyang can play the game as the best of them. Furthermore, although China may rap the DPRK on the knuckles, it wasn't going to play the patsy for the US. Beijing would protest loudly but hardly enforce sanctions in the way Washington wanted.
The DPRK has understood from the beginning the direction of the US campaign to check and mate it on the international chessboard. As Guam Diary has noted, BHO has reenforced George W. Bush's strong armed measures towards North Korea; he has polished them so that they took on a John Bolton glow. In announcing that the 'six party talks are gone forever', Pyongyang has called Washington's hand to force the DPRK into 'total surrender' on all issues.
How will the US respond to the DPRK's call for direct negotiations? Will Washington's reluctance in the past to meet Pyongyang face to face continue? It doesn't take a rocket sciaentist to fanthom the US' move towards a six party talk to deal with North Korea. It is a reflexion of America's operating on assumptions of a kindergarten nature, ill defined and out of touch with experience and reality. Where a nuanced and sophisticated approach toward Kim Jong il's regime are called for, Guam Diary, among others, find that call for measured and reasoned approaches based on the hard facts and commonsense. Instead BHO's team at State, the Treasury, and the Pentagon turned towards vilification and eyewash and muddied the waters on serious issues. Which led to conflation of heated words and threats by turning the DPRK into a malevolent world menace. Shades of Mr. Bush's shtick on 'axis of evil'!
The US has always been reluctant to deal from the top of the deck with the DPRK. Washington has never forgiven North Korea [and China] for fighting the US flying the UN flag to a stalemate during the Korea War. This brings up another matter. Kim Jong il at the same time that he walked out of the six party talks for good, tore up the 1953 Aritmistice Agreement. In on quick move, the frozen war became verbally a hot one again. And if Washington decides to talk with Pyongyang that is an issue of high priority which may lead to the reconvening in Geneva of a peace conference. [See Guam Diary's 'A call for a Geneva conference'.]
The ball is now in BHO's court.