Friday, October 13, 2006

Update. Insanity in Korea...

Gi Korea

It really was only a matter of time before Jimmy Carter surfaced again due to the latest North Korean crisis. Carter has surfaced this time in a New York Times editorial which like other editorials from those involved in the failed 1994 Agreed Framework blames Bush for everything going on with North Korea:

Responding to an invitation from President Kim Il-sung of North Korea, and with the approval of President Bill Clinton, I went to Pyongyang and negotiated an agreement under which North Korea would cease its nuclear program at Yongbyon and permit inspectors from the atomic agency to return to the site to assure that the spent fuel was not reprocessed. It was also agreed that direct talks would be held between the two Koreas.

The spent fuel (estimated to be adequate for a half-dozen bombs) continued to be monitored, and extensive bilateral discussions were held. The United States assured the North Koreans that there would be no military threat to them, that it would supply fuel oil to replace the lost nuclear power and that it would help build two modern atomic power plants, with their fuel rods and operation to be monitored by international inspectors. The summit talks resulted in South Korean President Kim Dae-jung earning the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

First of all in June 1994 Carter wrote a letter to Clinton that he was going to Pyongyang with or without Clinton's approval. On the advice of Al Gore, Clinton approved the visit if Carter would agree that he was only going as a private citizen and not a US Ambassador. When Carter visited Pyongyang and cut the deal with then North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung the father of the current leader Kim Jong-il, he informed his contact in the White House of the deal and then proceeded to give a CNN interview announcing the deal.

His White House contact walked into a on going policy meeting with President Clinton and his top advisors to inform Clinton of Carter's call. Clinton was about to give a go ahead on a military force build up in Korea along with increased sanctions that would ultimately lead to possibly a naval blockade if North Korea did not give up their nuclear program. Does this all sound familiar? It should because it is 1994 all over again today, we just need Carter to go to Pyongyang, and hopefully this time he will stay there.

Carter's announcement was a bombshell to the White House because somebody acting as a private citizen had taken control of US foreign policy and the White House appeared to be by standers. People in the meeting actually called Carter's actions of cutting a deal without White House approval as "near traitorous" and Clinton actually put out an order for people in the meeting to not engage in Carter bashing to media despite their private feelings.

Clinton's instincts initially was that the North Koreans could not be trusted and only understood force to get them to quit their nuclear program, however Carter's actions made it politically impossible for him to take action against North Korea when Carter publicly announced on CNN that he had prevented war by cutting a deal with Kim Il-sung. Attacking a country after publicly announcing that you cut a deal with them never goes over to well internationally or domestically for that matter and Clinton knew it and he was forced to deal.

Additionally the deal was cut with Kim Il-sung who Clinton and even I believe may have been acting in good faith at the time when he agreed to end his nuclear program and allow in IAEA inspectors if the US gave him aid and built two light water reactors. Kim Il-sung I think was beloved by his people enough that he would have been able to survive any reforms that would have opened up the country. Thus he saw this deal as opportunity to feed his people and provide them energy, which in turn allowed North Korea to then focus their limited resources on rebuilding a post-Soviet Union economy.

However, Kim Il-sung died a month later after striking the deal with Carter. Was this just coincidence or did Kim Jong-il have something to do with it? I for one wouldn't be surprised if Kim Jong-il and others in the military who wanted the nuclear bomb and resisted opening the country did away with Kim Il-sung and installed Kim Jong-il because he promised to implement the Songun (military first) policy which would ensure the elite status of the North Korean military within North Korean society.

Something else I found disingenuous about Carter's article was his claim that his 1994 deal led to the 2000 inter-Korean Summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il. Carter made no mention of the fact that the summit only happened, not because of Carter's 1994 deal, but because of the $156 million dollar bribe that Kim Dae-jung authorized Hyundai to give to Kim Jong-il in order for the North Koreans to agree to host the summit.

The dishonesty only continues in Carter's editorial:

But beginning in 2002, the United States branded North Korea as part of an axis of evil, threatened military action, ended the shipments of fuel oil and the construction of nuclear power plants and refused to consider further bilateral talks. In their discussions with me at this time, North Korean spokesmen seemed convinced that the American positions posed a serious danger to their country and to its political regime.

Carter makes no mention of the fact that North Korea cheated on the 1994 Agreed Framework deal and continued a covert nuclear program, which the Bush Administration called them on and to everyones surprise, the North Koreans even admitted to.

The dishonesty in this article only gets worse:

Six-nation talks finally concluded in an agreement last September that called for North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and for the United States and North Korea to respect each other’s sovereignty, exist peacefully together and take steps to normalize relations. Each side subsequently claimed that the other had violated the agreement. The United States imposed severe financial sanctions and Pyongyang adopted the deeply troubling nuclear option.

Carter leaves out some more critical information by forgetting to mention that the financial sanctions had nothing to do with the six party talks. The financial sanctions were due to North Korea's counterfeiting and money laundering of US currency. Ever wonder why the US$20 dollar bill keeps changing? It because of North Korean counterfeiting which Carter makes no mention of.

So what does Carter suggest to end the current stand off? Well implementing pretty much the 1994 Agreed Framework again:

The other option is to make an effort to put into effect the September denuclearization agreement, which the North Koreans still maintain is feasible. The simple framework for a step-by-step agreement exists, with the United States giving a firm and direct statement of no hostile intent, and moving toward normal relations if North Korea forgoes any further nuclear weapons program and remains at peace with its neighbors. Each element would have to be confirmed by mutual actions combined with unimpeded international inspections.

You have to give Carter credit for one thing, he is persistent in wanting to implement failed policies.

As you can see there were various factors that led to the failed 1994 Agreed Framework. Was it Clinton's fault? Even though the policy failed I don't see it as being Clinton's fault because due to the circumstances he had no choice but to cut the deal. This issue has taken on it's current political context solely because of next months elections. None of this rhetoric is helpful in actually resolving the crisis but since when have politicians cared more about solving issues over protecting their own political power?

So what do I think it going to happen? Kim Jong-il counted on sanctions before he decided to test his nuke and knew that the international community would condemn him including China and South Korea. Even though he would be condemned for the test, Kim Jong-il gambled that China and South Korea would still protect him from sanctions that would lead to the end of his regime like a naval blockade. I would love to see a naval blockade because I doubt the North Korean regime would last a year if a naval blockade is implemented. However, all signs are that the South Koreans and Chinese will not support a blockade and I find it unlikely the US would implement a blockade without a UN Security Council Resolution.

So what does this mean? Well it means that North Korea will get hit by increased sanctions, but China will keep the oil flowing and the South Koreans will keep the food and fertilizer coming in because neither country wants to deal with a collapse North Korea. China doesn't want a possible war or a humanitarian crisis to threaten their hosting of the 2008 Olympics and the South Koreans do not want to pay both the financial and social costs that reunifying with North Korea would cost plus the possibility of war would devestate the peninsula. Plus the North Koreans will be allowed to keep bringing in hard currency through their weapons sales, counterfeiting, and other illicit activities without a naval blockade, which means that the Kim Jong-il regime will survive with more time to develop and perfect their nuclear weapons, while our political leaders aided by the irresponsible US media continue to play politics and blame each other for the crisis, which is just what Kim Jong-il counted on.

Note some great reading on the 1994 Agreed Framework can be read in Don Oberdorfer's book, The Two Koreas.

Playing Politics Over the NK Crisis

Senator John McCain recently came out and criticized former President Clinton's failed 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea for leading to the current nuclear crisis. In fairness to Clinton I do believe diplomacy should be tried before starting a war and he tried diplomacy and failed due to the untrustworthiness of the North Koreans who went ahead and continued a covert nuclear program while simultaneously moving even more troops and equipment to the DMZ between North and South Korea. Clinton tried diplomacy which I think no one should fault him for and it didn't work. The Democrats accused McCain of playing politics, but what do the Democrats do in response? Continue playing politics themselves of course; with former Clinton Secretary of Defense William Perry writing this blame Bush editorial in the Washington Post:

North Korea's declared nuclear bomb test program will increase the incentives for other nations to go nuclear, will endanger security in the region and could ultimately result in nuclear terrorism. While this test is the culmination of North Korea's long-held aspiration to become a nuclear power, it also demonstrates the total failure of the Bush administration's policy toward that country. For almost six years this policy has been a strange combination of harsh rhetoric and inaction.

President Bush, early in his first term, dubbed North Korea a member of the "axis of evil" and made disparaging remarks about Kim Jong Il.

Continue reading "Playing Politics Over the NK Crisis "

I wonder if Perry prefers that Bush call Kim Jong-il the "Dear Leader" instead of the tyrant that he is?

Some of you may remember that Perry also wrote an editorial before the July NK missile tests in the Washington Post advocating a bombing campaign against the NK Taepodong missile before it could be tested. Perry like many former Clintonites are trying to rewrite history. Their policies were a failure then and their advice is a failure now.

Just think about if the US followed Perry's advice before July's missile test. A bombing campaign against NK would validate the very reason Kim Jong-il proclaims for needing both a ICBM and nuclear programs; to protect the country from US aggression not to mention possibly causing a second Korean War which the US would have clearly been the aggressor. Additionally the US would have never gathered the valuable intelligence of the failed test. The US didn't totally know the NK ICBM capabilities, now the US does. It is the same thing with the nuclear test. The US now knows that the NK nuclear program is not as advanced as the North Koreans would want you to believe. Plus the NK actions have driven a wedge between China and North Korea which a bombing campaign would have never done. If anything it would bring the two allies closer together against US aggression. Now this is not the case after the nuclear test because China is actually seriously considering backing a UN resolution that would allow a US naval blockade of North Korea. Do you think a bombing campaign would have brought this close cooperation with China about?

So what does Perry advocate in the wake of the nuclear test, when his bombing campaign policy would have been an obvious failure? Well I really don't know because the article is all blame Bush with no policy alternatives. Maybe he learned from his last article that blaming Bush is safer politics than actually providing alternative policy ideas.

Naval Blockade Coming to North Korea?

Looks like a UN resolution condemning North Korea is in the works that includes a very provactive naval blockade of North Korea to inspect all ships entering and exiting the country:

The United States circulated a draft resolution Monday to U.N. Security Council nations calling for stiff weapons sanctions and other restrictions on North Korea following its claim to have conducted a nuclear test.

The United States is suggesting international inspections of any cargo going into or out of the reclusive, communist country.

Washington also is proposing a U.N. embargo on any goods or materials that could be used in Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.

Security Council members will resume closed-door discussions of the proposals Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously Monday for a statement opposing North Korea's reported test, but it is unclear whether the council will favor economic sanctions.

John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said he was "strongly encouraged by the mood of the council."

"No one even came close to defending it," Bolton said.

Japan also added its own proposals to deny North Korean ships and planes permission to enter other territories, to ban the import of any North Korean products and to ban travel by high-level North Korean officials.

The U.S. draft calls for an overall arms embargo, prohibitions on any financial transactions that might support missile activities, a freeze on any assets related to North Korea's weapons programs, measures to prevent counterfeiting by North Korea and a ban on luxury goods.

The draft also calls for North Korea to cease any missile and nuclear-related activity and return to the six party talks.

If the resolution passes with the implementation of a naval blockade and a full embargo of the country, both the South Koreans and the US better be prepared for a possible confict. I don't think the North Koreans would wage war from the start of the blockade but I would expect them to conduct smaller scale actions such as DMZ shootouts, West Sea naval clashes, or even terrorist style attacks in South Korea in order to pressure the South Koreans to get the blockade lifted. They will also simultaneously play up the humanitarian crisis of the sanctions to the global media and the global media will probably fall for it, it worked for Hezbollah why not North Korea too?

Over the course of an entire year I don't think the North Korean regime could survive a full embargo. When it reaches the point that the regime is on the verge of collapse what do they have to lose by going to war? If the embargo is implemented the US and it's allies better be prepared for possibly a bloody war. Is the US and South Korean publics ready for a bloody war or would they rather just appease the North Koreans, work out a deal, and get back to the status quo? The coming months will tell.

Another possibility is that a military coup happens in North Korea and Kim Jong-il is replaced. A new leader takes over, works out a face saving deal for all sides, and begins a real process towards reunification. Maybe US and South Korean intelligence knows something that the public doesn't. Then there is always the possibility China could take matters into their own hands and move in and occupy North Korea on their own accord.

Who knows but one thing you can count on is that North Korea will remain very unpredictable and the coming months would be very interesting.

Now Why am I not suprised by this next article at all?

Say What?

South Korean president refuses Abe's request for joint condemnation of North Korea

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun talked about his views on the history of Japan's wartime atrocities for 40 minutes during talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Seoul on Monday, forcing them to abandon a joint statement, entourage sources said.

Roh refused Abe's request to issue a joint statement condemning North Korea for its alleged nuclear test, according to the sources. The South Korean leader then talked for 40 minutes about his views on the history of Japan's atrocities during World War II and visits by Japanese politicians to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

During the meeting, South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki-moon handed a memorandum to Roh, urging him to discuss a joint statement with Abe. The sources said this suggested there is a perception gap between the president's office and the ministry over the country's interpretation of history and its North Korea policy.

South Korean officials subsequently suggested that the two countries issue a joint statement on North Korea's alleged nuclear test and interpretation of history, a proposal rejected by Japan.

A Japan-China joint press release was completed one hour prior to its announcement following the summit talks between Abe and Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday.

Uri Party Blames US for North Norea

If you also watched the new “South Park” episode last night, you may still be laughing about it. I still am. It dealt with 9-11 conspiracy theories, and naturally, Eric Cartman acted as the surrogate for all that is irrational, prejudiced, and nasty (Kyle was the scapegoat, of course). I won’t spoil any of the plot twists, but there’s a scene in the beginning where Cartman, Kyle, and Stan are talking about 9-11. Stan says that only a retard would believe in the conspiracy theories. Cartman answers that 25% of the American people believe that 9-11 was a conspiracy. Can 25% of the American people really be retards?

Stan: Yes, Cartman, 25% of the American people are retards.

Kyle: Yeah, at least.

It helps you put this into some perspective.

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow said Wednesday it was unfair that his country had been criticized in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test. On a visit to the Grand National Party, the ambassador said according to a recent press poll, 30 percent of Korean’s believe that the North’s test was the fault of the U.S. But Vershbow insisted the U.S. did everything it could at the six-party talks on the North’s nuclear program. Party spokesman Na Kyung-won quoted Vershbow as voicing disappointment that people did not look at the entire series of events.

How can I possibly describe my reaction to this? Let me find exactly the right word. I am …


Yes, relieved. Because if you compare that result to some of these results, we could have the makings of a tourist brochure: “South Korea – Now 20% Less Retarded!“ Unfortunately, there appears to be substantial overlap between that 30% and South Korea’s current government. The foundation of the ruling Uri Party is the idea that appeasing North Korea would improve its behavior. Now that the Sunshine Policy has just suffered the mother of all sunburns, Cartman Uri must find a scapegoat:

[F]ormer president Kim Dae-jung and the ruling Uri Party continued to work out their theory that the U.S. was to blame for the test. During a talk Wednesday at Chonnam National University, Kim said, “Under the Sunshine Policy, was North Korea engaged in nuclear development?

Where does DJ think North Korea got its bomb(s)? Botswana?

With the U.S. refusing to even talk while bullying North Korea, isn’t nuclear development the only option left (to North Korea) to ensure its survival.”

Why, yes, if you exclude instituting meaningful economic reforms, releasing the captive citizens of your neighbors, importing some food, getting out of the counterfeiting and dope rackets, complying with the NPT, letting in some food aid, and moving some of the guns away from the DMZ. Other than that, I suppose that’s your only option. The continuation of Moammar Khaddafy’s life term of office does present some problems for DJ’s theory, of course, but facts are simply inconvenient obstacles.

One Angry South Korean

WaPo describes the “chill” in North-South Korea relations in the aftermath of “The Test“:

“The joy I felt when I first signed up for the reunions was indescribable — such elation at the thought of seeing even one of my children again,” he said, slipping a bony finger under his watchmaker’s monocle to dry his tears. “But the North Koreans have robbed me of my chance. They have tricked us and deceived us, using our hearts to open our wallets. All they wanted was South Korean money, and now they’ve tested this thing, this bomb. They have what they wanted and I’ve lost hope of ever seeing my family again.”

Lee’s views echo the changing sentiments across South Korea in the wake of Monday’s purported test, which was something of a national wake-up call in a country where the perception of a North Korean threat had all but evaporated after years of detente.

One can only hope that this sentiment will persist.

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