Thursday, March 20, 2003


--Randall Parker on DPRK aid and trade;

--VOA news on what's next for North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea, March 20 — The first American air and missile strikes on Iraq inspired worries here today that North Korea might be next on the list of Washington's targets and that South Korea could be drawn into conflict whether it likes it or not.

Robert Gallucci, the chief negotiator of the 1994 Geneva framework agreement with North Korea, said he was "concerned about the trajectory we're on" in bombing countries suspected of harboring weapons of mass destruction.


OBLIGATORY "MY THOUGHTS ON THE WAR" BLOG: Been watching the war off and on both on tv and via the internet. Part of me cheers for our troops: May they be swift and successful. Part of me gets excited when I hear about mass surrenders and defections: May the rumors be true and the war end even before it really starts. Part of me is frustrated with the inane coverage on tv; if you're going to pre-empt March Madness, do it because you actually have some news to convey not because you need to fill the time with journalists putting on gas masks. But most of me is simply sad; sad because chances are many people will die, many children will be rendered fatherless, many mothers childless, and I still can't quite figure out why. My sadness doesn’t mean that I support nonsense like the 'vomit-in' of protestors in San Francisco or the idiots who blocked traffic on the Key Bridge this morning. Those idiots have completely abandoned rational thought: other than demonstrate their anger and moral superiority to the rest of us unenlightened cretins, what actual good do such protests accomplish?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

HAS WAR BEGUN? Since nearly every post-1945 conflict has not involved the old-fashioned official declaration of war, the answer is clearly "yes." But when it actually started is another matter: after all we've been bombing Iraq off and on since 1991.

Adam: Well, we're studying the causes of the second Korean War and I just don't get it.

Gen. Spears: As I've explained before, Adam, President George W. Bush was obsessed with Saddam Hussein, not to mention with Iraq's oil reserves. He managed to convince most Americans that Iraq was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington. So, people just weren't paying much attention to the North Korean threat.

There's much more but this is my favorite:
Adam: So why didn't the United States just negotiate with North Korea? It seems like they were working hard to get our attention.

Gen. Spears: They certainly were. After they admitted to developing a nuclear weapons program, they disconnected the International Atomic Energy Agency's monitoring cameras, kicked out the weapons inspectors, withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, restarted an atomic reactor and threatened to end the armistice that halted the first Korean War.

No sense of irony here whatsover. Admitting to a clandestine nuclear weapons program, expelling the IAEA, withdrawing from the NPT, restarting the Yongbyon reactor and threatening to end the armistice are all simply categorized as attempts to get American attention, cries for help that Bush refused to heed. Just off of the top of my head, here are a few better ways for Kim Jong-il and the DPRK to get our attention:

1) Officially announce the cessation of the HEU program.

2) Officially renounce any sale of nuclear technology or material abroad

3) Close Yodok and other concentration camps and release the prisoners held there.

4) Allow South Koreans to freely communicate with and visit family members in the North.

5) Announce that Kim Jong-il will make the long promised reciprocal visit to Seoul.

6) Rather than threaten to end the armistice, how about unilaterally declaring that North Korean armed forces will never attack the South and ask for the South to make a reciprocal promise?

7) Allow DPRK citizens to freely leave the country if they wish.

I came up with this list in 30 seconds. There are surely many more ways in which the DPRK could get outside attention that would actually be constructive and confidence-building.

SOUTH KOREA MAY PROVIDE NON-COMBAT TROOPS IN IRAQ. Nothing demonstrates the passing of the "Pacific Century" (even before it began) more than the fact the support of Japan and the ROK for Bush's approach toward Iraq has received almost no attention and certainly did not even remotely reduce the number of claims that the United States is acting unilaterally. Apparently Japan and South Korea matter no more (but no less?) than Estonia or Bulgaria.

"We're walking on a narrow wooden bridge above a sea of fire": so says a "senior cadre" in China on North Korea. An apt analogy (perhaps) but what to do about it?

The Bush official said, "We want this to be sort of like an alcoholic intervention, with everyone at the table saying, 'We can either hurt you or we can help you.' " By contrast, bilateralism may be a dangerous trap.

To make this clearer, I'll interpolate a little. (This is me, now, and not the Bush official.) Suppose the United States cut a bilateral deal with Pyongyang. Suppose Pyongyang then broke the deal -- not a big stretch, given that North Korea promptly broke the 1994 nuclear deal, and given that it clearly wants both to extort concessions for its nukes and to build the nukes anyway. Other countries in the region would immediately call for America to avert war by making yet another deal. Washington would have to either submit to never-ending nuclear blackmail or face the nightmarish prospect of taking military action, and quite possibly igniting a nuclear war, without its allies' support. Thus bilateral talks lead all too easily to precisely the catastrophe they are supposed to prevent.

To the extent that North Korea succeeds in bilateralizing its disagreement with the U.S., North Korea effectively succeeds in neutralizing America's allies, or even turning them. That should be obvious to anyone who has watched recent events pertaining to Iraq. At the end of the day, a bilateral confrontation with North Korea may be inevitable. It would be foolish, however, for America to volunteer for one now.

But even he concludes that it is far from clear whether this approach will work:

Well, it might work. It might not. The official succeeded in convincing me that bilateral U.S.-North Korean talks are not a shortcut but an ambush. What is not so clear is whether the ambush can ultimately be avoided.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

DON'T LIKE DENMARK'S SUPPORT FOR THE WAR ON IRAQ? Demonstrate your opposition by dumping red paint on the Prime Minister That'll show him! If you are a member of the press, you are, of course obligated to follow the PM as he walks down seemingly endless corridors dripping paint the entire way.


WILL THE U.S. BE SATISFIED WITH ANYTHING LESS THAN REGIME CHANGE IN NORTH KOREA? At least some in the Bush administration don't think so.

Bad loans at local credit-card firms surged by nearly fourfold to 2.1 trillion won at the end of last year from 500 billion won a year earlier, a report from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) showed yesterday.
Gotta love American style capitalism!

Seven in 10 said they supported Bush's televised call to go to war without the blessing of the United Nations unless Saddam Hussein and his sons leave Iraq within 48 hours.

An equally large majority believe that Bush has done enough to win support from other nations. More than two in three said his policies on Iraq are the right ones, although fewer than half are strongly convinced.

Rally round the flag in full swing. At this point, I certainly prefer rallying round the flag (despite my misgivings about the war) to actively opposing the war effort. Not surprisingly, some don't agree.

UPDATE: Bush has a 53% approval rate in Britain (thanks to Instapundit for the link)

As a result of these uncertainties, there is no basis for assuming that early tests of a TD-2 would be successful. Even if they were, some number of flight tests-possibly small but more than a couple-would be required to provide an estimate of the reliability of the missile. While North Korea might field a missile based on one or two tests, its confidence in its ability to use such a missile would be very low.

Knowing the reliability of a missile has important implications for the type of warhead that might be used on it. North Korea is believed to have separated enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons. Even if it had developed a working nuclear weapon, any leader would be reluctant to place such a valuable, scarce resource on a missile of unknown reliability, reserving it instead for other means of delivery.

A useful corrective to the somewhat overwrought "North Korea can hit the Western U.S. with nuclear-tipped missile" rhetoric that has been circulating around the net.

Monday, March 17, 2003

GET RICH QUICK! I've been collecting the various offers of fabulous riches connected with various banking and/or financial transactions involving Nigerian strongmen, diamonds from Sierra Leone etc. Here's a new one that just crossed my in-box:
From: Mrs. Fatima A. Azad
Dear Sir,

I wish to write you pleading with you to be my Investor trustee over $12.5million.
My late Husband was a rich oil magnet in Libya . . .

Rich, oily, and magnetic? What's not to like in that combination?

AMERICAN EMPIRE SETS UP FOURTH EXPANSION: So concludes a news analysis of China's People's Daily
In a short space of 200-odd years' time, the United States has developed from a small colony into a peerless empire of today, the reasons for this are: besides the fact that the country enjoys perennial relative political stability, continuing scientific and technological innovations and new achievements in economic development, but an important reason for this is, without doubt, its constant external expansions.

Expansion is an eternal theme in American history, as well as a main line running through US foreign policy. American diplomatic historian Williams described the American act of establishing an "empire" by relying on power politics as the American "way of life". When the European immigrants just set foot on "the new continent" the America, they found there was neither tile over their heads nor a speck of land under their feet. Therefore, the first task for the new immigrants in the America was to expand westward from the East Coast they landed. This instinct reaction was integrated with US unique commercial expansion spirit and the puritan's "concept of mission" to become the theoretical foundation and fundamental characteristics of US external expansion.


INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE ON THE LOOMING WAR written by "Salem Pax" a blogger who lives in Iraq. Excerpts:
No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying “come on bomb us” it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case.
To end this rant, a word about Islamic fundis/wahabisim/qaeda and all that.

Do you know when the sight of women veiled from top to bottom became common in cities in Iraq? Do you know when the question of segregation between boys and girls became red hot? When tribal law replaced THE LAW? When Wahabi became part of our vocabulary?

It only happened after the Gulf War. I think it was Cheney or Albright who said they will bomb Iraq back to the stone age, well you did. Iraqis have never accepted religious extremism in their lives. They still don’t. Wahabis in their short dishdasha are still looked upon as sheep who have strayed from the herd. But they are spreading. The combination of poverty/no work/low self esteem and the bitterness of seeing people who rose to riches and power without any real merit but having the right family name or connection shook the whole social fabric. Situations which would have been unacceptable in the past are being tolerated today.

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