Simple, Neat, and Wrong: Lugar and Hagel Go Wobbly on North Korea

[With a tip of my hat to H.L. Mencken.] Now that Democrats are suggesting that we bomb Kim Jong Il’s ballistic showpiece on the launching pad, we only need one more really dumb idea to make the role reversal complete.

“It would be advisable to bring about a much greater intensification of diplomacy, and this may involve direct talks between the United States and North Korea,” said [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard] Lugar, R-Ind.
. . .

“We need to talk directly with North Korea. The sooner we do that, the sooner we’re going to get this resolved,” [Sen. Chuck] Hagel [RINO-NE], the second-ranking Republican on the committee, told CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Right. What a perfect time to ask Kim Jong Il for his list of demands. Or, as Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso put it,

“How can you put up a rocket and then demand talks? That’s intimidation, and makes it most difficult for America to engage in talks.”

There is absolutely nothing complex about this. We have been negotiating with the North Koreans for the last 20 years. We’ve tried it unilaterally, bilaterally, multilaterally. Various parties have given them aid, cash, food, oil. We’ve offered them light-water reactors, diplomatic recognition, and a peace treaty. We looked the other way while they eliminated two million of their own people. In those cases when we reached limited agreements, North Korea broke them. The only question is how long it takes to catch them.

We never learn:

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: ““
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

Really, I think this is all really not so much Bill Clinton’s fault as Al Gore’s. Gore’s is largely responsible for purging paper bags from our stores, meaning that when underinformed and overly excitable Washington luminaries read the paper, they have nothing to breathe into.

Get a grip. It’s called the Taepodong II because there has already been a Taepodong I. Yes, the range and payload are greater, and maybe in a few years this will represent a threat to the United States. And? Deterrence protected us against nuclear missiles for decades, but nothing — especially diplomacy and payoffs — will separate Kim Jong Il from his WMD or stop him from selling them to terrorists. Direct talks will not reduce that threat. The threat will only end when the regime ends.

2 Comments

  1. I was bored enough to watch some of the Sunday news shows, and it reminded me why I gave that up.

    People, especially people in positions of authority, influence, or commentary – can’t admit it when there are no adequate solutions or the apperance of solutions.

    I heard several people talking about how NK has been “left alone” to “run wild” for the past 4 or 5 years (since the Bush administration and the 2nd nuke crisis).

    Really…..

    Hmmmm…

    It might be interesting to really check up on that — and I don’t mean just to support Bush —

    I mean to look at it in light of how this “do something/anything” attitude can easily give NK what it wants and lead to nothing but failed “solutions”.

    Hasn’t NK been doing pretty much as it likes (within broad limits) despite a wide variety of measures attempted to get it to stop doing things outsiders didn’t like?

    In fact — didn’t NK used to do mor e provocations more frequently?

    Shootouts on land and sea, major terrorist attacks, and a whole variety of imaginative moves to be the bad boy of Asia.

    In fact, didn’t the 1990s famine and increased need for aid from China and South Korea (and to a lesser extent Japan and the US and others), lower the type and frequency of its provocations?

    Yes —- unpacking its nuke material has allowed it to develop more nukes faster than what they were doing secretly.

    Yes — shooting off a missile will give them much needed data and demonstrate their an increased threat level to the US mainland.

    Yes — The US needs to do something to stop it.

    But, if the options available are not cost-effective (meaning more than money wise) or they do not ensure a real solution –

    we should not do them for the sake of saying we are doing something/anything.

    In reality, we have been doing things, but since some don’t like them, and still others only look at the surface and see NK is still developing nukes and threatening missile launches, they say we are doing nothing and imply something can be done effectively if WE just put our minds to it — the reality of what NK has done with agreements in the past and how well it has insulated itself be damned…..

    And then there is the bullshit partisanship US-centered part of all I was hearing today…

    Pointing out that problems aren’t being solved is a great way to try to win votes.

    You don’t even have to advance a plan of your own…

    And if you do, you don’t even have to try to make it realistic.

    It only has to sound nice (if that).

    I caught Sen. Biden talk about how it is almost criminal police and local responders have not been beefed up since 9/11.

    I’ve don’t police work. I am for paying cops more and hiring more cops.

    It is not going to put a dent in the war on terrorism.

    But, it sounds good on TV….

    And in the next breathe, the issue is intrusions into privacy and the police state and the shredding of the constitution and how the sky is falling because of the data stream and telephone call monitoring and monitoring of international banking activity –

    things that do have an impact on global terrorism far beyond the pay of cops in my local neighborhood —- whether we even agree the methods are gross breaches of US freedoms or not….




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  2. Senators might think they have high IQ’s, but we have plenty of evidence that they don’t. This is one case.
    Once the US starts down the path of direct talks, we immediately lose the 6 party talks that serve our interests well. We immediately reward Norks and give them a strategic victory. For the US, we lose China, Russia, Japan and ROK as partners it the talks. They can wash themselves of the Norks and let us deal with them. For the NORKS they marginalize the ROKS and become the goto capital for Korean diplomacy. They are then free to cut deals with individual countries, futher strengthening their standing and diminishing the ROK.

    For the US to engage the NORKS, under present circumstances, would be read as a big US concession offered for free.




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