Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fast-Track to Failure

Our current column at looks at the growing crisis on the Korean peninsula, and Barack Obama's apparent inability to deal with it. Some might argue that Mr. Obama inherited a bad situation from the Bush Administration and the failed, Six Party approach. There's an element of truth in that, but it's also clear that the new president has made things even worse.

In a week when North Korea has successfully tested a nuclear weapon, launched more missiles and threatened to attack allied warships, President Obama responded with a demand for tougher U.N. sanctions. Kim Jong-il must be quaking in his boots at our "forceful" reply.

That's one reason that things will get worse in northeastern Asia long before they get better. Expect some sort of military clash on the peninsula in the coming weeks (keep your eye on the western waters off the DMZ), or an ambush of our reconnaissance aircraft. What happens after that is any one's guess, but Russia has warned that a renewed Korean conflict could go nuclear. There's more than a little hype in that assertion, but this week's nuclear test reminds us that the situation in Korea has irrevocably changed.


Jim said...

Curious... what would you do? Obviously the nuc was developed before Obama was in office. Without China's support, sanctions won't work because they keep sending food and supplies. What else is there to do? Get involved in a 3rd war? Hell, let China, Korea and Japan deal with them...

Paul Gordon said...

Some might argue that Mr. Obama inherited a bad situation from the Bush Administration and the failed, Six Party approach.I'm sure they will. WHATEVER happens, it's all Bush's fault. Like a retarded child, Obama cannot possibly be responsible for anything himself

Jim said...

Curious... what would you do?
Get involved in a 3rd war? Hell, let China, Korea and Japan deal with them...

Well, we ARE allied to South Korea. Should we sell them out?

Just after the election, I posted this about not keeping faith with allies. I see nothing in it that needs changing...
On Election Day, the Ace of Spades website posted a picture of two Iraqi women, with purple-stained fingers showing they had voted in an election.

It was a "Get Out The Vote" message, noting that whatever inconveniences YOU may experience by voting, "These women literally risked their lives to vote".

My first reaction was, "And THE ONE can hardly wait to sell them out".

Obama’s rhetoric on Iraq, and comments about Israel, showed a casual willingness to sell out allies when convenient.

A commenter asked, “Who appointed us to be their guardians? Why is it America’s job to make sure they are safe?”

Perhaps we'd rather not have the entire world as a nuclear-armed camp, figuring that the more countries with these things, the more risk that some will eventually be used.

Our alliances with these countries ain’t out of the goodness of our heart, but for our own best interests. Sell one out, and I’ll bet you the others will sure take notice.

The commenter seemed to be saying, “To hell with them; let them take care of themselves!”

Ok! But, they might do exactly that, and we might be less than thrilled with the results.

If countries under threat (Taiwan, South Korea, Japan) think that our word is no longer any good, they’ll almost certainly feel the need for nuclear arms as the only real deterrent to someone like China. And note, those countries ALL have the necessary economic, industrial and technical wherewithal to go nuclear. All they need do is make the decision.

Others, in the Middle East, will want them to deter Iran. How about Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Maybe Libya decides that abandoning their efforts was a mistake. THOSE countries may lack the technology, but they can certainly afford to finance it.

It could just go on and on.

THAT could be a very likely consequence of us deciding to just disengage ourselves from these countries.

We’ve tried, for a long time, to convince others that they didn’t need them, because WE would provide the nuclear umbrella.

When they figure they can’t count on us, the whole thing unravels.

If the commenter gets his wish, and they DO take care of themselves, it could get real interesting for us as well.

As we also reside on the same planet, I think it almost impossible we would remain unaffected.

So, standing up for our allies is not just a nice thing to do; it makes the hardest kind of common sense.

Simply put, we protect others in order to protect ourselves.

Abandoning them, selling them out, would be an unbelievably short-sighted (as in STUPID) thing to do, and would hurt us more in the long run. No one would trust an agreement with us; and why should they, given such a record?

Instead of being worth a damn, our word would only be noise.

And that would be tragic, because WE set its' value, by our actions.

Aerospook said...

Well said....It is not the necessity to directly confront NK, but by not confronting them, or at least making it clear that we will not tolerate this, we convince the rest of the world that they must both go it alone AND that we will not step into situations that present grave world danger...

CJG said...

Thanks for an interesting article. As a follow-up to some of your things to watch for, you can predict what they will do next here:

Rich said...

No options? It is always critical to understand all the options all the time - and balanced with a sound risk assessment.
Here are just a few measures to consider to promote our policy objectives.
1. Unequivocally support any movement of Japanese policy towards initiatiation of a nuclear program, thereby strongly pressuring China to enforce strict NK sanctions. Japan is seeing a NK 1st strike capability without an effective US umbrella. MAD or not, NK intimidation of Japan - and eventually the wider ICBM threat - will not remain unbalanced.
2. Reinvoke all restrictions to international banking - lifted under Bush (nice reward for blowing up a "cooling tower", setting back NK's nuclear material program about 36 hrs, including clean-up). Missle dev unhindered.
3. Reinvoke NK listing as a supporter of international terrorism. Easy.
4. Call their bluff - redirect, or even board and inspect any ship suspected of conveying WMD materials to Iran or other clients. (If NK succeeds without hinderance, Venezuela may be next to choose between an NK or Russian 60 MW "friendly test reactor" including customer support program.)
5. Reinstate development funding for ABM system programs recently cut.
6. No talks. Not 6 party, not 2 party. Not now.

Market Timer said...

What I find interesting is that right after the first nuke NK set off within days China had sent a high level "group" to have a talk with the "Most Merciful" leader of North Korea. Then within days North Korea had changed course. It seems clear that Bush was going to take action. As always when dealing with the North Korea's, it was a stalling tactic until a new President was elected. Now it Obama's turn. North Korea is going to test him right up to the limit and, my friends, the world is watching. Iran is watching. Is the foundation being laid for a new war? Yeah, I think so....

Jim said...

Rich, I like option 1 of yours. The problem is getting China to get NK to behave. Not implying that we drop our allies, but we shouldn't be the ones leading the charge into a 3rd war.