Wednesday, August 20, 2003

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING. Fred Kaplan writes that Russian participation in joint naval exercises with the ROK and Japan sends a signal to North Korea that the times are changing.
In previous multilateral negotiations—for that matter, throughout its half-century history—North Korea has played other, larger powers off one another, often quite shrewdly. A "shrimp among whales," a nation founded on guerrilla tactics at the height of the Cold War, North Korea sees this sort of manipulation as essential to survival.

The importance of Russia's unprecedented involvement in this week's military exercises—the signal that it appears quite pointedly to be sending—is that Kim Jong-il will no longer, or at least not so easily, be able to play this game. At this negotiation, on this issue, Russia stands aligned with all the other foreign powers.

UPDATE: IA concludes that Kaplan has "gone overboard"

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