Tuesday, May 26, 2009
North Korea's tantrum
North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il, aka “little Kim,” is at it again. The reportedly porn loving dictator has been a thorn in the side of Presidents of the United States for the past fifteen years. Indeed, North Korea has a pattern of testing American Presidents early in their administration.
Kim, acting as de facto leader of North Korea for his then ailing father, tested Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1994 by threatening to invade South Korea and restart the Korean War. Clinton went to South Korea and delivered a speech promising the annihilation of North Korea if it attacked. President Bush was tested in 2001 and 2002 by North Korea pursuing nuclear technology and selling arms to terrorist states and groups. Bush declared North Korea part of his “Axis of Evil.” Neither Presidents Clinton nor Bush did anything of substance to solve the North Korean question.
For whatever reason, the two previous Presidents were caught flat footed so to speak when it came to dealing with North Korea. President Obama is no exception. Just last week, President’s Obama’s State Department saw the North Korean situation as quiet and did not even have a full time staffer devoted to the Six Party Talks dealing with North Korea and its nuclear weapons.
Much has been reported over the past fifteen years about the potential madness of Kim Jong Il. Kim’s love of porn and luxury are pointed out as signs of his potential madness. Recent questions about his health have surfaced. Frankly, such questions are a distraction to the main question that faces the President and his team. What does Kim Jong Il want?
Over the past fifteen years, when Kim misbehaves, he is after some sort of concession. Testing a full sized nuclear weapon that for years he denied he really had suggests that Kim is after something big. Is it support from China for his son to succeed him? Is it to shore up domestic political questions? Is it to gain direct talks with the United States, putting him on par with the President of the United States? It is to have sanctions lifted?
Unless Kim is truly mad, he would never use his nuclear weapons on Japan, the United States, China or Russia or even South Korea. The result would be the destruction of his regime and his nation. The Obama Administration needs to find out what Kim wants to achieve by his misbehavior and make sure Kim does not get what he wants.
One strong gesture the Obama Administration could make is pull out of the Six Party talks. The Six Party talks were basically a concession to North Korea by previous administrations and they have not worked. Further, the Obama Administration could form some sort of missile defense pact with Japan.
Chances are neither measure suggested will be taken. Instead, there will likely be back channel concessions by the United States and the others in the Six Party talks. That is exactly what Kim wants. Crazy indeed.