Monday, October 09, 2006

So, North Korea now has The Bomb.

News about the North Korean nuclear bomb test is all over the news and blogs today. Taylor Marsh’s prediction this morning is that this will all somehow be the fault of Bill Clinton. Just as everything is the fault of Bill Clinton. That’s a rant for another day, I suppose.

Several points are being made this morning that I wholly agree with. First and foremost, this happened on George W. Bush’s watch, and he has had six years to deal with this emerging threat. It is especially telling that, since he labeled NK as one of the “axis of evil”, he might actually consider doing something about it. However, all he did is bluster and threaten, just like he always does. But since NK wasn’t going to be the pushover that Iraq was (at least in the initial stages) and that they could immediately throw about a million men against our ally, South Korea, there was no way Bush was going to take military action. And NK knew it.

This is so much worse, in my opinion, if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon. First, I think the Iranians are a little bit saner than Kim Jong Il. They have self-preservation as one of their primary goals, and I doubt they will go around threatening to use a nuclear weapon on whomever they feel like it. They won’t go “shopping” it around to other groups. Not to say that I think that Iran having a bomb would be a good thing. No, this world has way too many nuclear weapons as it is, and the more people who have their fingers on the trigger, the more likely one of them will pull it. But I think the North Koreans might do almost anything, especially if their country really starts to collapse. They are close to that point right now, but mass starvation is right around the corner. It hasn’t taken them long. I saw something on the news last night where NK demanded that SK pay large sums of money to the North as their “share” in protecting the Korean peninsula. Sounds like a nuclear version of the Sicilian protection racket. If they really start getting desperate, I could imagine them demanding vast sums of money and whatever else they want or else they will drop a bomb on Japan or Korea. Blackmail on a global scale. It might work, if it gets to that stage.

It appears that the Chinese have had enough, however. Perhaps they can put the brakes on this situation. They have apparently started withholding their advice and technical expertise. (As an aside, about damn time.) Because it is obvious that the United States not only has no power to change this particular situation, we are acting as an agitator. Since all we know how to do is threaten and bully, when the NK’s know that we aren’t going to do anything about it, that just makes that much more likely that they are going to do exactly what we don’t want them to do.

This is what happens when we won’t negotiate with anyone we don’t like and who doesn’t already agree with. That would be seen as “rewarding” bad behavior. I want to repeat that. The Bush administration believes, wholeheartedly, that we cannot negotiate with anyone who doesn’t already agree with us. In which case, there really isn’t much to negotiate. All the administration says about anyone, like Syria, Iran and North Korea, is “they know what they have to do”. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Bush approach to diplomacy.

Personally, I have a feeling that this situation will resolve itself peacefully. First, I take it that there is some doubt that NK can “weaponize” their bomb making material. It is one thing to set off a pile buried underground somewhere. It is entirely another to make a bomb that can be placed in a rocket and detonated at a particular target. However, that won’t take them that much longer to achieve, if they are giving the time and no incentive to stop. But I think the big powers in the region, such as China and Japan, will step in and something will happen. It is obviously not in their interests to have a nutcase with a nuclear weapon on their doorsteps.

But, whatever happens, I doubt the U.S. will play a big role. We have painted ourselves into a corner that we really can’t get out of. And that is no one’s fault but George W. Bush.

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