Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wider perspectives on on the issue of North Korea

Sheila Miyoshi Jager put the the wide perceptional gap between South Korea and USA
into perspective.
A recent public opinion poll sponsored by the Choson Ilbo revealed that 65.9 percent of Koreans born in the 1980s (ages 16-25) said they would side with North Korea in the event of a war between North Korea and the United States [15].Japan focus

Washington must come to terms with the emergence of pan-Korean nationalism in South Korea in which ending the Korean War is the main goal. In practical terms, this will require that the United States engage North Korea in direct bi-lateral talks aimed at finally settling the hostile relations between the two countries with the ultimate goal of concluding a peace treaty and establishing diplomatic relations

I wonder if the US policy and South Korea's policy will be ever compatible, with the US force present in the peninsula.

Ralph A. Cossa gives a moderate opinion on this issue.
Washington is prepared to talk bilaterally with Pyongyang, but only "in the context of the six-party process," further explaining that in the context "doesn't mean in the room, it doesn't mean in the building, it just means in the context." All Pyongyang needs to do to get a bilateral meeting is to promise to return to the six-party talks without preconditions, something the entire international community has urged it repeatedly to do.

Pyongyang's behavior clearly indicates that Kim Jong Il is convinced that having nuclear weapons is essential to his survival and that the benefits to be gained outweigh current or potential consequences.

There are at least four main reasons why. One was the failure of the international community -- despite the initial efforts of the Clinton administration (and Tokyo) -- to effectively respond to the 1998 Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests. When discussing nuclear matters, North Koreans invariably make reference to Pakistan and how its "international status" was elevated once it became a nuclear-weapons state.

Even before this, Pyongyang was witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union, accompanied by caveats from both Moscow and Beijing as to the extent their respective "friendship" treaties with Pyongyang assured the North of military support. The loss of these formerly reliable allies was sobering. Combine this with Pyongyang's natural juche (self-reliance) tendencies, and another clear motivation emerges.

This leads to another primary motivating factor: the lack of serious or sustained consequences. When Pyongyang first declared itself a nuclear-weapons state in Feb. 2005, South Korea and China, among others, asserted that a nuclear North Korea would not be tolerated: South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun promised that it would not be "business as usual" until Pyongyang gave up its nuclear ambitions. He was true to his word. It's actually been "business better than ever" -- North-South trade increased by 50 percent last year. Today, hard currency continues to flow into the North via the South's Kumgang tourism project and the Kaesong industrial zone.

In the absence of good options, the "least worst" option is to pursue a clearly defined, credible, sustained containment policy aimed at ensuring that whatever nuclear capability exists in North Korea remains in North Korea, while exerting firm pressure on Pyongyang, aimed at bringing about either a change of heart or an eventual change of regime from within. A round of six minus one talks should be called now to start defining and implementing this policy.Japan times

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