May 28, 2005


U.S. May Be Trying to Isolate N. Korea (Barbara Demick, May 28, 2005, LA Times)

By severing some of the few remaining U.S. ties with North Korea in recent days, the Bush administration appears to be trying to further isolate the Pyongyang regime over its pursuit of nuclear weapons, analysts say.

Wednesday's suspension of a Pentagon program to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War puts an end to one of the few regular channels of face-to-face contact between Americans and North Koreans. It also cuts off a source of hard currency for the communist nation's army, which was being paid millions to assist in the search for remains.

Also this week, the U.S. refused to renew the contract of the American executive director of an international consortium in charge of supplying energy to North Korea.

Analysts said the decision to terminate the contract of Charles Kartman, a career diplomat who had headed the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization since 2001, was probably a prelude to abandoning a light-water nuclear reactor being built on North Korea's east coast.

"The U.S. is shutting down anything that is in any way remotely beneficial to North Korea," said L. Gordon Flake, an expert on North Korea and head of the Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs in Washington.

Shouldn't the next phase be heating up in its silo?

What happens after North Korea falls? (Michael Barone, 5/26/05, US News)

It pays to take a look at the books George W. Bush hands out to his staffers. Last year Bush's book was Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, which argues that countries that do not protect individual rights cannot be reliable partners for peace. You could hear Sharansky's arguments in Bush's extraordinary second inaugural speech in which he promised to promote freedom and democracy in the Middle East and around the world. Bush's critics like to mock him as the sort of person who never read books. But he does, and his reading has consequences.

This year Bush has been handing out copies of The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Kang Chol-Hwan. This is the harrowing story of a man who returned with his Communist family to North Korea to help build a Communist state and who was instead imprisoned. In the past Bush has denounced the North Korean regime as tyrannical and has been chided by some foreign policy experts for what they consider his allegedly impolitic bluntness. But his championing of The Aquariums of Pyongyang suggests that he is more determined than ever to undermine a regime that is probably the world's worst violator of human rights.

It also suggests that no one should expect this administration to endorse anything resembling the Agreed Framework that Bill Clinton endorsed in 1994. Under that agreement, the United States provided aid to North Korea and refrained from undermining the regime in return for North Korea's promises not to develop nuclear arms. The North Koreans broke their word, but some foreign policy experts argue that a similar agreement is the best we can get from the six-party North Korea talks and should be accepted as at least a way of buying time. Bush has never seemed inclined to support an Agreed Framework II. He has spurned North Korea's demand for direct talks with the United States and has insisted instead on talks that include China, the country best positioned to put pressure on North Korea, and its other neighbors, South Korea, Russia, and Japan.

Now he seems poised to go one step farther and to insist on including the issue of human rights in any negotiations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2005 9:20 AM


We aren't going to preemptively nuke any nation, not even where it's richly deserved, like NoKo.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 28, 2005 10:33 AM

Nor are we ever going to regime change a Middle Eastern dictatorship...

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2005 10:35 AM

Hey, just convince as few as one out of three Americans that nuking NoKo is a good idea, and no doubt Bush will go for it.

Good luck.

Have you considered what the effect would be on Pakistan and China ?
They would immediately double, triple, quadruple their missile programme budgets. Right now neither can hit the U.S., other than Hawai'i and maybe the left coast in China's case.
Why don't we leave it that way ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 28, 2005 11:01 AM

Yes, they're the point--they'd give up their missiles when we told them to.

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2005 11:05 AM

what many people fail to understand, is that the u.s. lead in weaponry and tactics flows from our constant "testing" (i.e. war). my point ? maybe we have been working on something that will neutralize the entire armed forces of the dprk but isn't a nuke. they are going to be a testing ground. if the test succeeds, then the prc will not have to be similarly educated. as for pakistan, i believe we already have de facto control of their nukes.

i don't fear other countries, i fear what they will bring unto themselves by provoking us. imagine how the people's army general staff feels, when they contemplate facing the u.s. military,
knowing that we would grind them to pulp in weeks.

Posted by: cjm at May 28, 2005 11:49 AM

Neutralize the entire armed forces?

Shoot food and radios in for the peasants?

Posted by: Sandy P. at May 28, 2005 1:32 PM

"...the best we can get from the six-party North Korea talks and should be accepted as at least a way of buying time."

What an argument and look what it got us. We don't need to nuke them and we don't need to put troops in. Cruise missiles, ICBMs with conventional heads and B-52's with bunker busters all concentrated on their arty tubes North of Seoul and all launch silo's identified would shut them down to a conventional level. Let the South do the rest on the ground ... or not. It's their penninsula and they can keep it ... or not.

Posted by: Genecis at May 28, 2005 1:58 PM

What Genecis said, only take out the Army along the border too.

Posted by: Pat H at May 28, 2005 2:14 PM

i am just speculating, but this is a time of tremendously fast advancement in all areas of weapons development. if all of their command and control is incapacitated, and all of their artillery is wiped out in a single massive bombing effort (cruise missles, etc) then what do they have left ?
the nuclear sites will be obliterated, and any missles they manage to get off the pad are shot down.

this is all speculation, but its not far fetched. there is a reason we are delaying dealing with the dprk and that is too allow us time to come up with an innovative and unexpected solution.

if we neutralize the dprk in such a manner, what lesson will other trouble makers take away ? and waht lesson will fence sitters take away ?

Posted by: cjm at May 28, 2005 3:48 PM

They'd never even know it was coming, nevermind return fire. The decapitation strike on Saddam showed a nuclear first strike is doable.

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2005 3:54 PM

North Korea isn't already isolated?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at May 28, 2005 4:52 PM

Note that the way things are going between Seoul and the US, it seems that we would have fewer thoughts about a couple thousand NK shells hitting the South, before we finally finish off Kim and the even crazier generals in the North.

Also, if HRC came out in support of a US attack, the Democratic party is as good as neutered on the issue. If the American electorate thinks the Dems are totally split on fighting NK, 2008 will be like 1972, except with lots of gains down the ticket.

The Chinese have had 4 years (more, really) to deal with this problem on their terms. They have not. Time to pass them by.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 28, 2005 10:39 PM

Why is this our problem? We need to reject ownership of this situation. Only then will the South Koreans and the Chinese, whose problem this really is, have any incentive to solve it.

Pull all of our troops out of South Korea and announce that only Japan and Taiwan are under the nuclear umbrella.

Then the South Koreans and the Chinese will have to act. Until then they will keep trying to figure out how to make us solve the problem.

Incidentally the South Koreans deserve no better. If they really wanted to be our allies they would have sent 100,000 combat troops to Iraq, without being asked.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 29, 2005 7:32 PM

i agree with rs, pull all our troops from south korea and move them to taiwan. and slap some tarrifs on everything coming out of korea, just to emphasis how things really are. ungrateful curs.

Posted by: cjm at May 30, 2005 12:07 AM