Patterico's Pontifications

5/26/2009

North Korean Crisis an Opportunity for Obama?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:19 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Following a series of provocative (and largely unanswered) tests of its missiles and nuclear arsenal, North Korea reportedly no longer considers itself bound by the armistice that ended the Korean War, as a protest over the South’s participation in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative. The communist regime’s military has said that it will take “immediate, strong military measures” if the South actually stops and searches any North Korean ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction.

This is an immediate problem for the Obama administration, but it is also an opportunity.

After all, the real obstacles to effective action against North Korea are Russia and China, who both have interests in the continued existence of the DPRK regime. Neither has shown much interest in nuclear non-proliferation; both would prefer less US involvement and influence in East Asia.

However, as Daniel W. Drezner points out, North Korea’s increasingly bellicose threats of war may well increase the likelihood that China and Russia can be budged into taking meaningful action against North Korea. The threat of war increases the likelihood of US entanglement in the region and even a collapse of the DPRK.  The regime has made non-proliferation an issue for China and Russia.

Accordingly, Pres. Obama should view the latest North Korean provocation as leverage to persuade China to join the Proliferation Security Initiative. Such action would serve China’s interests by sending the message to North Korea that it has gone too far, while serving US interests — and even Obama’s Utopian desire for a nuke-free world — by strengthening the PSI.

Whether the Obama administration is capable of making this sort of deal will be a measure of its ability to harness that “soft power” we heard so much about during the campaign, and will serve as a likely prelude to the administration’s dealings with Iran.

–Karl

44 Responses to “North Korean Crisis an Opportunity for Obama?”

  1. One reason why China won’t join the PSI is because its led by the USA. Second China is also a nuclear proliferator as it gave Pakistan the bomb and the knowledge to build more. As for North Korea, well its one of the poorest countries in the world yet they’ve spent billions on nuclear weapons development and ICBM development, assuming they did the work on their own. Who paid the bills? They couldn’t have gotten that kind of money from drug racketeering, crime and stealing from their own people. Who paid the bills? Had to be either China or Russia providing sustained help that the North Koreans could afford. My money is on China, after all, they’ve done it before.

    Richard Barry (0283e2)

  2. I have to disagree Karl. China wants a nuclear North Korea, the same as Iran supports Hezbollah/Syria, and the Pakistani ISI supported the taliban. North Korea is only doing what China has allowed them to do.

    China has an ace card that it can throw into the game whenever it feels like stirring up the international pot. The real question to me is will the Chinese overplay their hand and cause Japan to rearm? That, the Chinese don’t want.

    liontooth (c6d5a7)

  3. Dark Beergod said: “In the end, there was no final battle with tanks clashing over the Fulda Gap, nor any lasers taking out satellites in space, nor, even a final beach-head in a major third-world country.”

    And he is correct. However, it was the economic might of the US and a few allies that drove the former USSR into their age of enlightenment. Right now, the Chinese hold a lot of our debt, but what will they do if we just don’t pay? They are in so deep, they need to work with us, not against us, to ensure that they are repaid.

    Or what? The Chinese will repossess something? Not as long as there is a military force in the US – which under Pbo may not be for long, despite his platitudes.

    K Peterson (abd2fa)

  4. Richard Barry, liontooth,

    Clearly, NoKo would not have been able to go nuclear if it had not been in China’s interest. Nor have they cared about proliferation, for the reasons you state. But a possible war on their doorstep is not in China’s interest — for a host of reasons, including economic considerations.

    Dark Beergod, meanwhile, is confusuing a balance of power situation between largely rational governments to an asymmetrical situation regarding a regime whose rationality is seriously in question.

    Karl (3bf5f8)

  5. “History shows the fear mongering about the Soviet Union was the product of massive paranoia and political manipulation.”

    Really? So all those gulags, officially-ordered famines, mass deportations, state-sanctioned massacres, personality cults, and threats of war (nuclear or otherwise) were all just “paranoia and political manipulation” on our part, huh?

    Damn dude, you really should take your retroactive mind-reading act to Vegas–you’ll make a fortune there.

    MarkJ (42fe5b)

  6. Karl, war on the Korean Peninsula is obviously in no one’s interest. A nuclear North is now in position to intimidate Japan and South Korea with the high probability both countries will react with their own nuclear weapons program and greatly accelerated military programs, none of benefit to China. A nuclear North is in position to demand more from China since the North now can cause more trouble all along China’s northern border, not of benefit to China. A nuclear North will likely galvanize South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries to form tighter bonds with the United States, again not in China’s interest.
    Long term this is a disaster for China’s security interests in my view, yet it’s plain that China is the godfather to the nuclear bomb for the North. Communist countries have done crazy things over the decades and this decades long assistance by the Chinese is another example.

    richard barry (0283e2)

  7. It’s too late for the Chinese to prevent Japan from re – arming; their repeated violations of the Japanese sea borders by their new submarine fleet has made that moot at this point. And I don’t believe that’s a bad thing – Japan realizes that they’ve depended too long on an ally that suddenly may become completely unreliable when their security is threatened.

    History shows the fear mongering about the Soviet Union was the product of massive paranoia and political manipulation

    Yeah, and the KGB archives that were released during the Yeltsin era that detailed how the Soviets werethisclose to launching a nuke strike on Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis is just so much flapdoodle.

    BTW, lightscotcharse, your prose increasingly resembles past banned commenters such as Hacky Sack and Ed from the Head. Care to vouch for your bona fides, or are we going to have to look up your multiple aliases via IP’s?

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  8. Dmac – Give them time, and plenty of rope. The result is predictable.

    JD (fdabd3)

  9. “History shows the fear mongering about the Soviet Union was the product of massive paranoia and political manipulation.”

    It takes an extraordinary amount of ignorance and gall to write something as plainly stupid as that. Given that the Soviet Union was responsible for scores of millions of murders of citizens of its own and neighboring countries and even today, Russia is invading its neighbors with impunity.

    Pure stupidity.

    SPQR (72771e)

  10. SPQR – You go with what you have.

    Where are all of the positive results of the world loving on Teh One? Where are the results of Teh One’s ability to talk to people? Surely there is some demonstrable difference he has made.

    JD (fdabd3)

  11. JD, if that’s what someone has, they should consider voluntary commitment.

    SPQR (72771e)

  12. Given that the Soviet Union was responsible for scores of millions of murders of citizens of its own and neighboring

    Lightscotcharse: “huh? That’s not demonstrably true, Walter Duranty told me so! And what’s this word pogroms mean?”

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  13. What is up with all of the pron trolls ?

    JD (fdabd3)

  14. JD, hard to tell the difference between them and the regular trolls. Equally incoherent.

    SPQR (72771e)

  15. At least the pron trolls are concise.

    JD (fdabd3)

  16. Only getting Japan armed with nukes (even if temporarily) will get the Chinese attention. But something needs to be done and soon. We have over 20,000 of our own military in the general blast/radiation area. Hopefully Obama realizes that losses on that magnitude would finish his administration even with the MSM at his back.

    voiceofreason2 (590c85)

  17. Convincing Japan to go nuclear is the only card we have to play but I don’t see Obama playing it. He will get the deer-headlights look more and more as his chickens, the consequences of his fecklessness, come home to roost. Rev Wright was close. He just had the wrong president in mind.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  18. Convincing Japan to go nuclear is the only card we have to play but I don’t see Obama playing it

    Currently nukes cannot be on Japanese soil at all. Simply allowing the US to put some of theirs on Japanese territory will raise the ante re China considerably.

    voiceofreason2 (590c85)

  19. That nuke restriction looks to be on the way out shortly in Japan, regardless of what Obama has to say on the matter. The country had a full scale debate recently regarding extensive re – militarization, and since that tremendous hurdle’s been breached, it’s just a short walk to nukedom. Many observers thought that the populace would never overturn that basic tenet of their constitution, but since China and NK’s emergence as real – world threats all bets are off.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  20. FYI – many sources speculating on Japan’s probability to go nuclear:

    http://www.feer.com/international-relations/2008/october/Will-Japan-Go-Nuclear

    http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/05/25/will_japan_go_nuclear

    There was also an excellent “Frontline” doc recently on the rising tensions between China’s increasingly aggressive military provocations against their neighboring nations, including Japan and India.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  21. So your old point is what, Beer? Inoperative now?

    And your claims about not being a ideological or miltary threat to our existance is just moving the goalposts. The Soviet Union was a threat to our friends, allies, national interests and, given how many they murdered, a hell of a threat to its neighbors.

    Grow up.

    And your little stupid snide remark about not being a position to attack North Korea because of the two wars and the disgusting chickenhawk lie just confirms your idiocy. We are not in a position to attack North Korea because it holds millions of South Koreans hostage to chemical and nuclear attack you blithering Beer moron.

    And calling our containment wars ( almost all of which were started by Democrats ) “U.S. military aggression” is just icing on the cake of your idiocy.

    SPQR (72771e)

  22. Conservative media, and chickenhawks, in the same comment. Boss Soros’ minions have their marching orders.

    JD (a047b4)

  23. Nice job of asshattery there, Ed the Head/Hacky Sack. The same exact phrasing and inflections, replete with wanton douchebaggery.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  24. I’m wondering how Vietnam was a US military aggression.

    Steverino (69d941)

  25. Actually, Dmac, the douchebaggery is not wanton. That infers the involvement of too much genuine passion. This is just phoning in the douchebaggery.

    1-900-DCHBGGRY

    Eric Blair (5a226d)

  26. Dmac “replete with wanton douchebaggery.”

    Shouldn’t that be CRAVEN and wanton douchebaggery?”

    GM Roper (85dcd7)

  27. There was a period of time not that many years ago that the thug nations of the world had reason to believe that violation of agreements had consequences. That obviously was after Saddam Hussein was forcibly removed from office after years of defiance. All of the behind the scene deals that were allowing him to maintain his military, etc., in the end were no match for decisive action. In fact, I believe that action was not lost on Russia or China, either, who never thought the US would do it.

    Those same nations have seen what happens to American Presidents who are willing to take action to enforce settled agreements. They are back-stabbed and undercut.

    At this point in time I think the US “street rep” is back to “paper tiger”, and will stay that way until we prove otherwise.

    A corollary to the Dems, “Never waste the opportunity of a crisis”:
    “Never take advantage of a position of strength”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  28. Oh, I forgot to ridicule a line of idiocy:

    “Not to mention the fact that the idea of paying for wars with tax cuts has at long last earned the punchline status it absurdly evaded over the 8 years of Bush fiscal fantasy.

    Uh, here’s news, the Bush administration is a paragon of fiscal virtue compared to Obama. The Bush administration will soon be seen as a golden age.

    SPQR (72771e)

  29. Shouldn’t that be CRAVEN and wanton douchebaggery?”

    Works for me – you could also call it “a veritable CORNUCOPIA of douchebaggery.”

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  30. Actually, there is a looming golden age being primed to flower just about when the Treasury bubble gives way as did the dotcom and credit iterations. Just not the kind of golden age we’re used to thinking about. Silver might even blossom a bit better as if injected with MiracleGro. Not a prediction, mind you, more a probable outcome scenario based upon a cautionary observation of historical points with similar economic and financial fundamentals in place. Predictions makes one a target and vulnerable to ego issues. Offering probable outcomes is much more judicious and psychologically healthy. As in stirred, not shaken.

    What it comes down to mostly is that there’s not a whole lot of difference between yield and surrender in the bond world, or elsewhere. You can jigger this and jigger that, but the yield is gonna get you in the end. Literally, at times.

    allan (43cbe7)

  31. Sadly, the U.S. is hardly in a position to attempt unilateral “regime change” in North Korea, given the two unwon wars on our hands…

    Since 1953, when has anybody advocated ‘regime change’ with a US military invasion of North Korea? Unintentionally hilarious!

    liontooth (c6d5a7)

  32. Please don’t feed the trolls, guys.

    All they want is attention, good or bad; it’s kinda like cutting themselves to prove they exist, and we should not be enablers of such behavior. Let them grow out of it on their own.

    ras (20bd5b)

  33. MD in Philly,

    I think a more accurate description of the US reputation these days, vis a vis taking action, would be “unpredictable.” That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing even tho the path unfortunately includes some side trips thru poserville at times.

    ras (20bd5b)

  34. DBG is a Hindsight Hero!

    Hooray for the benefit of rewriting history!!!!11!!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  35. I think a more accurate description of the US reputation these days, vis a vis taking action, would be “unpredictable.”

    Unfortunately it’s more patsy-eunuch, which was why the somali pirates struck, and NK is saying FU to the US, SK, and Japan after Jan 20. Anyone know what the recent insomnia rate is in India, Taiwan and Japan?

    liontooth (c6d5a7)

  36. Our trolls really are a remarkable and mendoucheous lot, aren’t they?

    JD (acaf96)

  37. JD, unbelievably so. I’m still astonished at the bizarre comments above.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  38. They no longer astonish me. They have gone so far afield that the only way they could raise an eyebrow is to really amp up their idiocy even more than normal, which is their standard plea for attention.

    JD (acaf96)

  39. If they are posting intentional lies, what do they think such drivel gains them? If they actually believe this, how can someone with such a tenuous grip on reality feed themselves unassisted?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  40. Well, how about unpredictable tiger to potential allies, and domesticated and “fixed” to potential enemies.

    I still think Bush should have taken control of Georgian air space with some F-22′s.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  41. But First An Update On The North Korea Crisis From Hillary Clinton

    As I had surmised, the Obama administration’s answer to the crisis of a madman firing missiles and setting off nuclear tests is as expected: reliance on trying to get the madman to a negotiating table so that he can agree to terms he has no intention of abiding by and some more of those tough U.N. resolutions and sanctions. Read:

    (Fox)”North Korea will have to pay a price for its aggressive actions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, and she urged Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks that it abandoned in favor of nuclear weapons.

    “North Korea has made a choice, chosen to violate the specific language of the U.N. Security Council (Resolution) 1718. It has ignored the international community, abrogated the six-party talks and continues to act in a provocative and belligerent manner,” Clinton said during remarks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit.

    “In the United Nations, as we speak, discussions are going on as to the consequences that North Korea will face coming out of the latest behavior, trying to rein in the North Koreans and get them back into a framework they have chosen where they fulfill their obligations,” she said…”

    Pyongyang must be quaking with fear. As I have said many times before these are hopefully Obama’s words for public consumption with covert action behind the scenes. This leader is a grave danger to the entire world, and mere table talk will unfortunately be an utter failure….

    Michael Haltman (4e0dda)

  42. Indeed, you are correct, Michael. The whole purpose of the nuclear test is to try to force the US into abandoning the six-party talks because North Korea does not want to negotiate in the presence of China – the one nation it actually fears can depose its regime.

    SPQR (72771e)

  43. There is only one solution for this North Korean mad dog. Question is, are we willing to do it?

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  44. Lovey – Are you a brown person, a yellow person, a red person or what? How can you preach such hate toward your fellow man?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)


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