The North Korean ship Kang Nam I may be carrying missiles to Burma, and then again, it may be headed for a stopover in Burma as it transits to points west. And then again, it may merely be carrying “small” arms and bullets for shooting dissidents and uppity monks (for which their next of kin will be duly billed). The official Burmese version is that they aren’t expecting the Kang Nam I in any of their ports.
For some reason, however, the U.S.S. John S. McCain has tracked the Kang Nam I all the way from the Yellow Sea though the Taiwan Strait at taxpayer expense, just so that we can flash a green light at it:
The United States will not use force to inspect a North Korean ship suspected of carrying banned goods, an American official was quoted as saying Friday.
An American destroyer has been shadowing the North Korean freighter sailing off China’s coast, possibly on its way to Myanmar. [AP]
Whatever the Chinese slipped in Ban Ki Moon’s drink has had the desired effect; this is how U.N. resolutions die within weeks of being passed. Through the simple artifice of allying itself with other nations that are willing to disregard the U.N.’s writ, North Korea can flout its practical impunity to proliferate at will. Tell me I’m wrong:
Flournoy said the U.S. still has “incentives and disincentives that will get North Korea to change course.”
“Everything remains on the table, but we’re focused on implementing the resolution fully, responsibly and with our international partners,” she said.
Given that we were still seeking the cooperation of those “partners” a few days ago, I can see how our smart, tough new diplomacy worked for us. Those partners can be forgiven for reaching the same conclusion that I did — that there’s no apparent legal authority in UNSCR 1874 or anywhere else to board this ship by force.
Of course, they could also be forgiven for concluding (as I also did) that some liberties must be taken with any law that becomes a gift certificate for a session with Dr. Kevorkian. The best venue for taking those liberties might have been the Strait of Malacca, where the Kang Nam I would have had to pass within the territorial waters of Singapore, Malaysia, and/or Indonesia.
So now, all that’s really left to do is to awaken in rage at how China has spent the last two decades date-raping our diplomats and the entire United Nations while it helped North Korea go nuclear and shielded it from the consequences of doing so. Which brings us right back to the same “incentives” and hobbled disincentives that never worked before and never will.
Say, do you taste something funny in your drink? Me neither.