Wednesday, September 21, 2005 at 11:07 AM

Resolving the North Korean Menace!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a joke – as Israel, Pakistan and India attest.

Besides, every country has the right to develop and possess any weapon it chooses for its national defense; provided, however, that that country is not led by religious fanatics (e.g., Iran) who claim divine authority to determine which countries have the right to even exist; or that that country is not led by a delusional, genocidal, paranoid, megalomaniacal and certifiably insane dictator (e.g., North Korea) whose notion of diplomacy is threatening to nuke the country of any leader with whom he has a political disagreement.

Moreover, where countries like Iran and North Korea forfeit their right to develop and possess weapons of mass destruction, history dictates that the United States and its coalition of the willing are the only agents capable of disarming them (for the sake of world peace) … as Libya can attest!

Which brings us to Kim Jung Il and his hermit kingdom of North Korea:

On Monday, newspapers around the world heralded the triumph of diplomacy for finally diffusing nuclear tensions that threatened to blow the Korean peninsula to smithereens. They reported that Kim had agreed to “give up all nuclear weapons and programmes” in exchange for oil, energy and normalized relations with the rest of the world; including, critically one imagines, establishing diplomatic ties with his principal negotiating adversaries: the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China.

Not surprisingly, before the ink was even dry on this reported agreement, critics of the Iraq war (led by British MP George Galloway on Monday night’s O’Reilly Factor) were claiming vindication for their proposition that a similar diplomatic outcome was in the offing to resolve tensions over Sadaam Hussein’s possession of WMDs – if only the trigger-happy U.S. President George W. Bush had a little more regard for diplomatic persuasion.

On Tuesday, however, Kim decreed that Monday’s agreement dealt only with the first item on his indefinite list of demands. He then declared that he would not give up his nuclear weapons (as promised) “until the United States provides civilian atomic reactors” according to his specifications.


U.S. President Clinton tried to get Kim to abandon his nuclear ambitions by dispatching his female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang, North Korea to stroke his ego and whisper sweet nothings in his ear about gourmet food and fine wine. Kim took the food and wine but, alas, he prefers Scandinavian blondes.

But no one familiar with Kim’s negotiation tactics should be surprised by this turn of events. After all, this little tyrant has been performing his own version of the tail wagging the dog, with infuriating effect, for many years. Recall the embarrassing spectacle of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveling all the way to Pyongyang in 2000 to toast a similar triumph of diplomacy only to have Kim renege on his word even before she made it back on American soil. And recall the equally futile overtures of South Korean leaders who offered a bonanza of economic benefits through their Sunshine Policy only to have Kim accept with one hand in agreement whilst giving them the finger with the other.

Yet, Kim is not the most ridiculous performer in this kabuki nuclear dance. Because this spectacle is distinguished by the incredulous fact that none of the five powerful nations involved even know the precise nature of the nuclear programme they’re trying so hard to get Kim to forswear.

Therefore, at long last, the world police Americans (who will do anything to disarm Kim and maintain their prerogative to determine the world order), the caught between Scylla and Kharybdis South Koreans (who are fatally hopeful for a peaceful resolution), the wary Japanese (who think the Chinese pose a greater danger to regional peace than Kim does), the mercurial Russians (who will share nuclear technology with any state willing to pay) and the Machiavellian Chinese (who relish seeing Kim play the Americans for fools) all will finally have to show their true negotiating hand. And, just as it was with Sadaam Hussein, the Americans will find that they have been dealt a hand that requires them to recruit another coalition of the willing to call Kim’s bluff.

So, here’s what Bush should do:

Reinstate America’s moratorium on talks with Kim; continue providing grains to help him feed his people; let Kim fiddle with whatever nuclear toys he may (or may not) have – but quarantine him politically and militarily to monitor and control movement of material and persons across his borders; and telegraph one of his patented messages to Kim warning him that if he transgresses his borders or peddles his nuclear wares that America will consider it an act of war and shall respond with overwhelming force.

(Incidentally, Bush should cc the equally enigmatic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who left no doubt during his debut at the 2005 United Nations World Summit last week that, like Kim, he will not be deterred from making his country a fully-fledged member of the nuclear club.)

Bush should then punctuate these sobering diplomatic measures by renouncing America’s policy of “no first use of nuclear weapons” as inconsistent with its war on terror. And to justify this renunciation, he should proffer that military experts have determined that conventional armed forces are inadequate to deter states that appear fixated on subjecting the U.S. (and the world) to nuclear blackmail. He should then have Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hold one of his delightfully menacing Pentagon briefings on America’s:

…revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction [as well as] the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

As Sadaam learned
the hard way, sensible American leaders will invoke President Reagan’s mantra for dealing with any rogue state they suspect of possessing nuclear weapons: Trust but verify. And, if leaders of rogue states deny their ability to verify (as Sadaam did and Kim is now doing), then American leaders should reserve the right to use any means necessary to resolve the matter.

This mantra is especially apropos in negotiations with Kim whose words have proved notoriously untrustworthy, even when written in binding agreements. And, any further efforts to dignify him with the international imprimatur of diplomacy would be as gullible and irresponsible as British PM Neville Chamberlain sipping tea for world peace with Adolf Hitler as Hitler’s army was systematically blitzkrieging through most of Europe.

Your move Kim…


  1. Anonymous September 21, 2005 at 12:00 pm


    This is a first-rate article. I suspect you are a career diplomat masquerading as a blogger. Are you?

    A fellow frustrated foreign service officer.

  2. Anonymous September 21, 2005 at 4:35 pm

    we should have taken North Korea years ago.

  3. Anonymous September 22, 2005 at 1:59 pm

    I agree we should have taken NK years ago. But why continue to cater to this maniac. Why wait for him to do something stupid like sell nukes to al queda. I say use tactical strikes to blow up whatever nukes he may have now.

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