Thursday, February 13, 2003
"Kim Jong Il's attempts to parlay the North's nuclear program into political leverage suggest he is trying to negotiate a fundamentally different relationship with Washington, one that implicitly tolerates the North's nuclear weapons program," Mr. Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
So now what do we do?
In recent weeks, President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell have complained loudly that China should be doing more to defuse the nuclear crisis in North Korea, China's reclusive neighbor and closest ally.Seriously, the PRC is sharply constrained by its keen desire to neither foster a North Korean collapse (and unleash a flood of reugees across the Chinese border) nor acede to American-led military action. Given these constraints, what can the PRC really do?
On Tuesday, Chinese officials returned the volley, saying that their diplomats had in fact been working hard to help mediate between North Korea and the United States, but that the two sides would have to find a solution themselves.
A British-based Islamic news agency said Wednesday it had a new tape recording of Osama bin Laden in which the Saudi militant allegedly predicts his own death this year in an unspecified act of "martyrdom."Although I have previously posted about Osama bin Laden's actual whereabouts I have to confess that I still think that the guy is dead. If he wanted to unequivocally demonstrate his continued existence on this earth he could easily do so with a videotape of him holding the front page of yesterday's New York Times or even by merely commenting on the fact that the Bucs won the Super Bowl shows how decadent America is, or whatever. The fact that he hasn't done so is a sign to me that he is incapable of doing so--because he's dead. This prediciton of martyrdom only increases my convinction. It is too convenient. So too is the alacrity with which the Bush administration declared the latest videotape to be legitimate.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
"In any case, my recommendation is to try to take measures which don't amount to escalation," Javier Solana said at a news conference, which wrapped up his three-day visit to Seoul.This is, of course, perfectly sensible. And it sends a message to the DPRK that the EU doesn't really care whether North Korea becomes a nuclear weapons state or not. Get used to it.
"I don't think it is the moment to impose sanctions. I think sanctions will contribute to the opposite of what we want to take - which is to defuse the crisis," he said.
"This is something we've sought for some time," a senior administration official said on Tuesday. "What the North has done is not just a bilateral dispute with the United States, and it's not just a crisis in Northeast Asia. This is a direct challenge to the basis of the nonproliferation regime."
Of course one can argue that India, Pakistan, and Israel also constitute challenges to the non-proliferation regime, challenges that don't seem to have elicited the same horror and sense of urgency that the DPRK has.
What will the response of the DPRK be? Those who argue that this is merely Kim Jong-il's latest adventure in brinkmanship cling to the notion that, if given the proper incentives, the DPRK will back down. My sense is that the DPRK has no real incentive to back down, particularly given the Bush Administration's reluctance to offer any carrots to Kim, and every incentive to plunge full speed ahead.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
UPDATE: the great Instapundit agrees with me; I must be right!
Monday, February 10, 2003
North Korea has issued a fresh warning that the Korean peninsula faced war if what it called United States "aggression" went unchecked.
True, the "evil" part of George W Bush's infamous "axis of evil" tag is a no-brainer (though the "axis" bit is a non-starter). When Newsweek gave Pyongyang the palm as world's worst regime, I had no complaint. North Korea's horrors are hardly news - but still worth remembering as new data come in, and in case anyone (in Seoul, for instance) is tempted to play them down, misguidedly, in the quest for detente.
Yet I also support that quest for detente. I certainly don't see how any non-Korean has a right to try to stop Koreans from seeking reconciliation. And we can surely agree that North Korea is one tough nut to crack. As many an analyst has noted, in dealing with Pyongyang there simply are no good options.
The abominators beg to differ. No shades of gray for them: North Korea is vile, and they're apoplectic. True, behind all the growling they have no more clue than the rest of us on how actually to de-fang the beast. But they know whom they hate, and it isn't just Pyongyang. Those lily-livered deluded types who believe you can appease Kim Jong-il - buy him off, even - why, they're almost as bad as he is.
Take, for example, a sour little item in January 27's Asian Wall Street Journal, headed "The not so intelligent Kim". This bridled at any suggestion that Kim Jong-il might be in possession of a brain. No matter that the Dear Leader's brinkmanship looks to be running rings around Dubya currently. For the AWSJ, the fact that North Korea is "tottering on the brink of collapse" (can they be so sure?) suffices. Kim is a "nasty dictator ... brutal tyrant ... brutal [again], evil and duplicitous". Ergo, not intelligent.
The bank calculated its growth outlook by using forecasts provided by the London-based Consensus Economics Inc. The company said the most drastic forecast revisions for 2003 were for Singapore (from 4.7 percent to 3.8 percent), South Korea (from 5.6 percent to 5 percent), Malaysia (from 5.2 percent to 4.7 percent), and Indonesia (from 4 percent to 3.6 percent).I'm not an economist and I don't even play one on tv. Still, I'm not entirely clear on what revising the ROK growth projections down from 5.6 percent to 5 percent actually means. As long as the economy is growing, I presume that is generally good, right? I obviously need to read more Brad DeLong or something.
Forecasts for China (7.5 percent), Thailand (4.1 percent), and the Philippines (3.9 percent) were unchanged.
Sunday, February 09, 2003
UPDATE: More on the Yomiuri Shinbun article here