Who feels safer already?
Update: “North Korea Threatens More Attacks.” Huzzah for Kim Jong Bill!
Update 2: It may be the worst photoshop ever, but I couldn’t help re-using it.
Update 3, Dec 18: So, if Richardson is merely a private citizen who isn’t there to negotiate anything, and if indeed this is the wrong time for negotiations with North Korea, then what business does he have “provid[ing] North Korea with a series of proposals,” which of course, he won’t discuss?
Now, like OFK’s all-time favorite left-of-center Korea-watcher, Gordon Flake, I happen to agree that we should have ways to “make sure [the North Koreans] understand, in an unfiltered manner, our position.” The thing is, with North Korea now threatening South Korea’s most economically vital sea lane and airspace, that message needs to be, “one more stunt like that and we unleash hell.” This is one of those times like the Cuban Missile Crisis when we can’t afford to back down, yet can’t afford to let things escalate too far, either. We need not explain to the North Koreans for now whether that means OPLAN 5027 1/2 or a highly aggressive combination of financial sanctions and political subversion, although I suspect the latter threat will come across as more credible than the former, given past history.
But if that’s the message — and the pessimist in me doubts that it is — then you might as well ask Richard Simmons to deliver it as Bill Richardson. He doesn’t speak for the POTUS, he’s long been a leading advocate of appeasing North Korea at any price, and his rather obvious motive is to remain relevant for the domestic American audience, particularly for liberals who tend to vote in Democratic primaries. Far better, then, for Stephen Bosworth to deliver that message via North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
A final point of order here on non-military options. One of the difficulties of enforcing sanctions against North Korea is the problem of making fine distinctions between “legitimate” North Korean businesses and bank accounts, and those that are involved in activities prohibited by UNSCR 1874. Until now, we’ve painstakingly insisted on the approval of the U.N. Security Council before imposing sanctions. That means that we’d have to go begging to China for a “yes” vote on a draft they’d successfully watered down, only to watch Chinese “investments” in North Korea “surge massively” shortly thereafter, even as they knowingly permit North Korea to fly missile parts to Iran right through the Beijing Airport. Enough of this! Treasury should simply declare — as it has done in the case of Nauru, Ukraine, and other countries — that North Korea itself is a primary money laundering concern under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act and block all of its financial assets and accounts, wherever they are. Do you suppose North Korea can last a year if it can’t pay its army?
Update 4: You know who would have been the perfect messenger?
[Originally posted on 17 Dec. 2010.]