Prim and proper like an old fashioned school ma'rm, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, index finger of blame pointed, lectured North Korea on proper comportment if the DPRK wanted the US to come back to the stalled party talks in Beijing...sometimes in the future. Taskmaster, she laid down the laws of do's and don't's to Kim Jong il & co. As Foggy Bottom [site of the department of state] headmistress delivered her long winded scold, her counterpart in the Pentagon, secretary of defence was fluttering around east Asia like wounded hawk, to cobble together an axis of the willing - South Korea and Japan - to shore up America's failed North Korea policy and make angry noises at Pyongyang that if the North does not behave it is going to have to contend with provocative joint military drills to keep it "honest".
The comedy team of Hillary and Gates are engaged in magical thinking. With much smoke and blue mirrors, they are projecting the aggressive and warlike behaviour of the US and South Korea on North Korea. You can criticise Pyongyang from noon to night, but recent events illustrate that the eager architects in the White House and the Blue House of a hostile North Korea policy, ignored the consequences of thoughtless cold war, based on the military, diplomacy, propaganda, and sanctions.
They, as GuamDiary suggested, had put all their eggs into a basket: inspite of danger signs, the US and South Korea were blindly confident that the sustained pressure they could exert on the DPRK -- a North Korea in crisis, owing to the ill health of Kim Jong il and a hastily arranged succession, let alone a poor economy and a population on the edge of starvation -- would result in the country's collapse.
Events in the last days of November 2010 when North Korea defended its territorial water along the NLL [Northern Limit Line] against South Korea's fire spelt the doom of such false reasoning based on romantic notions and an unreal justification of evidence and poor intelligence.
You would think that a renewed war in Korea would have thrown cold water on America's and South Korea's policy toward North Korea. The tragedy is that it did not. The Obama administration, on the eve of China's Hu Jintao's visit to Washington, sent Gates to argue that it is in China's interest to muzzle North Korea. Mme. Clinton sternly reminded the Chinese of their obligations to crack the whip with North Korea.
It is unlike China will follow America's instructions, the more especially since the very same Gates is throwing up a hostile alliance -- the US, South Korea, and
Japan -- which in the short and longer run challenges China's claims in the Yellow Sea and disputed islands, as well as fishing rights and oil & gas exploration claims.
What is and should be crystal clear in all this palavering and misleading promises of talks with North Korea is that the Hillary & Gates comedy show's message is that Washington and Seoul and Tokyo in tow do not want to talk to North Korea.
Have we here in all this hot air and puffery an exemple of what the Roman historian's pithy remark obtains: the US and South Korean North Korea policy is 'what they [made] a desert, they call it peace'!
Ultimately the US and its acolytes will have to come back kicking and screaming to the six party talks and treat North Korea as an equal - not a school boy - to calm the tensions on the divided Korean peninsula. Still the not so skilful mix of diplomacy and military threats show that the US is buying time, and yet in the end it will have to talks to North Korea, like it or not!