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On Nork Nuke, Time Asks: What Good is Diplomacy?

John on May 25, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Is John Bolton writing for Time these days?

The international community struck the usual poses that follow North Korea’s periodic outrages. Obama said in a statement that the test would “serve to deepen North Korea’s isolation.”…North Korea is already the world’s most isolated country…The idea that Kim Jong Il’s regime even cares if its isolation “deepens” is dubious at best.

As for the U.N., it met in emergency session just after the long-range missile launch in April, and gently tightened sanctions that were already having no demonstrable effect on North Korea’s behavior on key security issues. Will another “emergency session” really produce painful sanctions that could conceivably make a difference? That, after all, is presumably what Tokyo has in mind when it talks about “not tolerating” the North’s behavior.

For a hint as to how effective the U.N. might be, talk to the Russians. Moscow is “concerned” — not outraged — by today’s test. Don’t expect much, in other words, from the Security Council, even if the test is as direct a violation as possible of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, which calls on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.


On Korea, Obama heads the most openly dovish administration in Washington since Jimmy Carter. Yet the North’s rhetoric since he was inaugurated has been vitriolic. It says it believes the U.S.’s “hostile policy toward the DPRK remains unchanged.”


Baek Seung-joo, director of the Security Strategy Research Center at the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis, acknowledges that North Korea appears to have advanced its nuclear program, and that the “ultimate goal now is to be a full nuclear state.” If that’s true — and it’s a big ‘if’ — the outside world’s diplomacy with Pyongyang will need to change, starting in Washington. Now that the tremors of what South Korea’s geological service today called the “man-made earthquake” in the North have died down, that’s one issue President Obama will have to confront head on.

Dovish policy leads to aggressive nuclear development. Hmmm. Where else in the world might this lesson apply?

Oh, nevermind. Isn’t Obama wonderful.

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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