Thursday, December 19, 2002

Why not NK?

With the Bush Administration investing so much political and diplomatic capital in Iraq, (just today US ambassador to the UN John Negroponte claims that Iraq is in material breach of the UN inspection resolutions), why has the administration not pushed as adamantly for disarmament of Iran and North Korea, the other two-thirds of the "Axis of Evil?" For example, last week a North Korean shipment of Scud missiles were intercepted off the coast of Yemen. Bush didn't whip up any war rhetoric against NK as he probably would have done if those were Iraq Scuds. The answer, according to George Gedda of the Associated Press, is that three weeks after Bush's infamous State of the Union address, President Kim Dae-Jong of South Korea warned Bush of the dangers of another Korean War.

According to sources familiar with their conversation, Bush was taken aback by Kim's account of the horrendous death and destruction that would result from another Korean War.

Kim reportedly cited 1994 estimates by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff as the basis for his assessment. The potential American dead in such a conflict would not be limited to the 37,000 U.S. servicemen in South Korea (news - web sites) but also would include the tens of thousands of other Americans, most of whom live in the Seoul area, Bush was told.

Seoul sits within easy range of North Korean artillery deployed just across the Demilitarized Zone. War undoubtedly also would kill or displace hundreds of thousands from both sides, as did the first Korean War in 1950- 53. (Full Text)

Ok. So basically Bush doesn't want to mess with North Korea because of its overall military readiness (ballistic missile arsenal, well-armed standing army, artillery divisions, and two nuclear warheads) and its warming relations with its neighbors (China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan). Iraq, meanwhile, is militarily (and literally) in shambles and is isolated internationally with the exception of Russia, who helped defeat Iraq in the Persian Gulf War anyways. Seems logical, if a little unfair.

But the results of this inequality extend further than morality and justice--it has implications on US foreign relations and nuclear proliferation. Developing countries comparing Iraq's and NK's current situation could deduce that in order to rid themselves of Yankee oppression, they'd just have to build up a huge army and develop weapons of mass destruction, and simply avoiding making a fatal mistake that could provoke an all-out US response, such as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Nuclear proliferation and increasing third world militancy could result from the Bush administrations current policy.

How should they solve this problem? Well solving the inequality would mean either A) taking a threatening, hardline stance against North Korea, B) backing off of Iraq or C) working to solve the North Korea problem.

Option A is too risky for Bush in a number of ways. Option B is unlikely for Bush to do, and a complete cessation of pressuring Iraq would actually have a negative effect. The recommended choice then would be C, maybe with a little of B implemented too.

North Korea is not as backwards as the administration would have us believe. Although NK "develops nuclear weapons while its people starve" its only to keep a bargaining chip against the US, as it is currently doing. North Korea actually ideally desires peace! It has continually pushed for a Nonagression Pact between the US and North Korea, which would let North Korea lower its military readiness and invest in modernizing its economy. Bush, however, has refused to even start negotiating such a treaty until North Korea forswears its nuclear weapons programme.

A solution proposed by some is by convincing China, North Korea's largest supplier of materials and oil, to pressure North Korea to disarm, peace will ensue. This is assuming that China complies with the US, and that NK complies with China, however. Bush could simply buy off North Korea. Reopen fuel shipments. Promise investment in the North Korean economy. Pledge billions in aid.

Whichever way Bush decides to ease the North Korean threat and open it to the US, the end result would be a much more fair world with less proliferation.

Mike Knight writes, "Why is it, then, that the Bush administration has continually asserted North Korea as a member of the axis of evil? The answer is the Bush administration (mostly Rumsfeld) needs justification for a national missile defense system..." (Full Text) The solution to this problem is obvious: stop construction of NMD! Obviously I'm being idealistic but maybe light of the consideration that NMD has failed on 3 out of 8 rigged tests, as pointed out earlier this week.


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