US policy towards North Korea, like a naughty student, is sitting in a corner, with a dunce cap on its head,staring at two walls. It sees nothing but hears voices and sounds it has trouble making out what they mean.
Barack Obama took a hard line much failed tack towards North Korea and frozen it in his administration's overconfidence that it can bend Pyongyang to its will. Wrong!
The Obama administration has an quasi total ban on official contact with North Korea but it has left the door ajar for American citizens to travel there.
A delegation of US scientists, who visited North Korea at Pyongyang's invitation, has returned with a 'bombshell': they were taken to a very modern, underground nuclear facility where 'hundreds and hundreds' of centifuges were up and running.
The messenger who brought this news to the White House's attention, Siegried Hecker of Stanford and formerly director at Los Alamos National Laboratory, expressed shock that North Korean scientists have shown a high degree of sophistication in nuclear enrichment and that a country verging on the edge of starvation and collapse could run such an ultra modern and clean programme.
Obviously Kim Jong il & co. are sending the US a message. It is the latest in North Korea's signalling Washington that it is open to talks. They have been left unanswered.
What is the administration response? It immediately sent its North Korean man scurrying like a frighten laboratory rat to Seoul to consult with the hard nosed Lee Myong bek government on what steps to take.
And the media have make hay out of Dr. Hecker's news: panic in the corridors of power. Substitute Pyongyang for Tehran and you get the drift. North Korea's accelerated and expanded nuclear programme points in the direction of building a nuclear bomb stockpile.
US policy towards North Korea under the Bush and Obama administrations has travelled an uninvited road leading to nowhere. If Washington is taken unawares, it has but its ownself to blame. With an embargo on official contacts with North Korea, it has little recourse to rely on second hand reports of visitors and the faulty speculation of its own North Korea clericsy.
GuamDiary makes no case for North Korea. They are well able to fend for themselves. It does marvel at the high degree of condension that the US elite hold North Korea. They live in an exotic climate where North Korea are irrational and incapable of adapting to seeing the world the way the US does. Wrong! But that is a discussion for another time.
Left unsaid in 21 November 2010 fears of North Korean 'gnomes' stockpiling atomic bombs, is the news in the back pages of 19 and 20 November 2010. Pyongyang is building light water reactors to modernise and replace its rusty utilities. So, it seems, this push towards nuclear energy is for peaceful use!
Here a little history is in order. In the last years of the Soviet Union, Moscow had promised Kim Il sung that it would build light water nuclear reactors to replace the aging and inefficient utility infrastructure it helped fund and bill decades earlier. We know what happened to that pledge. The USSR collapsed.
Bill Clinton's administration stepped into the Soviet's shoes a few years later. It too promised to build light water reactors on condition that North Korea forego a nuclear programme. It too did not live up to its words; it wagered that Kim Jong il's regime plagued by famine would collapse. Wrong!
And of course, George W. Bush's pigheaded flummery turned North Korea into a nuclear power. [GuamDiary has long commented on this. It suggests that its readers look at those commentaries.]
In brief, where does this leave the US? Apparently itching to go to the UN Security Council to sanction yet another time North Korea. Will it open official lines of communication with Pyongyang? Maybe but GuamDiary cannot say for sure.
What GuamDiary can and does say: current US policy towards North Korea is a self defeating bundle of goals. It relies on flummery and self deception and when all is said and done has evolved under a blanket of ignorance.