Friday, January 6, 2012

US North Korea policy: don't send a boy to do a man's job

In less than a fortnight, president Obama, South Korea's president Lee Myung bak, and Japan's prime minister Noda Yoshihiko will put heads together to figure out how to deal with Kim Jung eun.
Already, Lee is off to Beijing, hat in hand, to ask China's leaders to pressure North Korea for engaging in 'adventurism' in northeast Asia.
The US has sent an assistant secretary of state Kurt Campbell to Beijing with the very same mission: twist your ally in Pyongyang's arm to avoid destablising the region during the transition to power in North Korea.
Well, they could have same themselves much shoe leather for the very idea of instability in northeast Asia exists in the coordinated 'patient restraint' policy Washington and Seoul have been conducting for the last three years.
From GuamDiary perspective, Lee's visit and Campbell's mission, to put it bluntly, and in plain idiomatic English, is 'sending a boy to do a man's job'.
Obama or his secretary of state Hillary Clinton has to step up to the plate and face and deal with the new North Korean leader and his team on equal footing. America's use of surrogates, read China, simply won't wash, for it is shortsighted and founded on false arguments.
The Bush administration did everything it could not to talk to North Korea, finding a face saving solution in the six party talks in Beijing which were from day one set to fail; they did, and although Washington is willing to go back to the green negotiating cloth, it has thrown up a wall of conditions that have sent the talks to limbo for the last two years. GuamDiary suggests its readers to look at Mike Chinoy's 'Meltdown', for a good account of US sleight of hand diplomacy.
Seoul's and Washington's assumption that China has a 'controlling' hand in North Korea does not pan in reality. It is true that, as North Korea's neighbour and ally, China supports the DPRK, but its influence is at best not as great as the US and the ROK think. Another reason Beijing may not be willing to 'help' Obama lies in his move to challenge diplomatically and militarily China's dominance in the north and southeast Asia.
So whilst Washington and Beijing may bow and smile at each other, China has little incentive to play 'suitor' to Pyongyang for the US. Let's not forget, China holds a huge swarth of US debt and almost in many instances dominates sales of its products in America, with the eager assistance of finance capitalists and US corporations always on the prowl for quick and growing returns on a US dollar invested.
Beijing may go through the motions, but it certainly will not nor cannot pull America's North Korean chestnuts out of the fire for it. Washington, in sum, has to talk directly to Pyongyang, and there is no other way out for them.
Dealing face to face discussions with North Korea is no insoluble riddle, let alone a mystery. They are the key to ending the seemingly never ending 61 year old Korean War by concluding a peace treaty, which would involve China but not South Korea that refused to sign the 1953 Armistice Agreement; a peace treaty would immediately reduce tensions in the divided Korean peninsula, allowing for steps leading towards denuclearisation.
However, that is not the way the US sees it: if you listen to the podcast of the US North Korean clerisy at the New York Korea Society, you wonder in what universe they are living. The media in the US and South Korea talk about the transition of power and the rise of Kim Jung eun as supreme leader as though it were unsettled, and what's more, they wonder with childlike naivety who planned it. Dah! Kim Jong il is the immediate and obvious answer.
It may churlish to say, Obama and Lee are the victims of their own wishes. The two allies rewrite minute by minute North Korea's history to hide the blemishes of their ignorance thereby compounding self confessions of their own country's intelligence failures.
More likely than not, as the Obama military doctrine shifts to northeast Asia, it will exacerbate tensions since the logic of the newly advocate policy require beefing up military forces on the ground [28.000 US military are already stationed in South Korea and the US is indirectly funding a naval base in Jeju islands for giant and perhaps nuclear warships, which China and even Japan consider a threat to territorial waters of theirs and the mineral rights under the sea].
So, in a way, the US and South Korea put forth circular arguments that have hardly varied yea these last seven decades. It would take bold leadership to cut this Gordian knot, and there is not. Consequently the US will continue to send boys to do the job only a MAN can do!

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