Wednesday, June 30, 2004


The Associated Press ("N KOREA WANTS US AID WORTH 2 MLN KW TO FREEZE NUCLEAR OPS", 2004-06-30) reported that the DPRK is demanding that the US provide aid worth 2 million kilowatts before the DPRK freezes its nuclear program, the DPRK ambassador to Moscow said Wednesday. "Before North Korea starts freezing its nuclear program, the U.S. must provide our country with compensatory energy assistance in the amount equivalent to 2 million kilowatts, remove North Korea from the list of countries facilitating terrorism, and lift sanctions and the economic blockade from our country," the Interfax news agency quoted Ambassador Pak Ui Chun as saying. "The freeze will begin when the granting of compensation begins."
Here's a wild and crazy idea for the U.S. response:
"After careful consideration of North Korea's demands, the United States has determined that P'yongyang's requests are not nearly large enough. Therefore, the United States is willing to offer not only lifting economic sanctions and removing the DPRK from the list of state-sponsors of terrorism, but also the amount equivalent to 6 million kilowatts of energy. In addition, the U.S. is prepared to offer a combination of development loans, credits, and grants to the amount of $2 billion dollars to help repair and develop the economy of North Korea."
Could the Dear Leader refuse such an offer?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


So argues Fred Kaplan. Snippets:
Bush has stunningly mishandled this confrontation. He has allowed North Korea--the most rickety spoke on his "axis of evil," a dangerous regime by any measure--to reach the crest of becoming a nuclear power. He has dismissed numerous opportunities to nip this disaster in the bud. And now he comes up with an old formula that evades the recent shift in the balance.

In short, by his own careless arrogance, the president of the world's most powerful nation has allowed himself to be outmaneuvered by the very model of a modern tinhorn dictator.


This week, finally, Bush caved further to Powell, and authorized real negotiations. One can imagine a few reasons for this shift.

First, he might have realized that Kim Jong-il's regime can survive, no matter how hungry his people might be.

Second, the U.S. negotiating partners--China, South Korea, Japan, and Russi--have started to cut their own separate deals with North Korea. If Bush let this freelancing go on much longer, the United States would soon have lost nearly all its influence in the region.

Third, if he ever thought there might be a military option for settling the North Korean nuclear crisis, the bog of Iraq must serve as a powerful dissuader.

Fourth, Bush needs a diplomatic victory somewhere to bolster his chances for re-election. Peace and democracy in Iraq seem a less than likely prospect. Stopping North Korea from getting the bomb wouldn't be a bad second choice.
There is much to be recommended in this summary and analysis of where we are no (as they say, read the whole thing). For me, though, the crux of the matter is whether the following statement is true:
Had Bush made the offer back when he first had the chance, Kim Jong-il probably would have taken it.
If it is true, then it is clear that Bush badly mishandled the situation. But what if it isn't true? What if Kim Jong Il never intends on ending North Korea's nuclear program but isn't above wresting a few more concessions from the gullible foreigners along the way? Or what if Kim Jong Il doesn't really have a coherent policy but is merely desperately trying to keep afloat in the hope that something will happen to make things better for him and his beleaguered nation? The short answer is, "we don't know." Most careful and honest analysts and observers have to conclude that, at the end of the day, the most one could be certain about was that a sincere offer from the U.S. would "test the intentions" of North Korea. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but a far cry from "Kim Jong Il probably would have taken it."

All of this gets me back to what I am increasingly convinced is the real crux of the matter: the issue of North Korea's alleged HEU program. If the U.S. and early DPRK "admissions" are correct that North Korea had begun a clandestine HEU program years before Bush took office, years before "axis of evil," then it is probably a safe bet that the true intentions North Korea and its Dear Leader are suspect at best. On the other hand, if the U.S. intelligence is faulty or deliberately manipulated, then Bush really has messed things up.


Some blunt talk from Sen. Clinton:
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Andrew Sullivan thinks this is "The Essence of Today's Liberalism"
The "we", of course, are the Clintons. They know far better than you do how you should spend your money. Because they are morally better people than you are.
I would call it "the essence of living in a state with a government." I presume Sullivan doesn't oppose in principle taxing citizens to provide for roads or defense. So the question is not so much the idea of whether the state should take things away for the common good (everyone excepting Anarchists and some Libertarians agree that in some cases it should), the question is whether one thinks what the state actually does with the money/resources is good or not. On this, obviously, even well-meaning people can disagree, partisan people can disagree vehemently, and violent people can disagree violently.


In that order:
If people wanted flat spare Neutra houses they’d beg for them, but they don’t; they want McMansions full of vague historical allusions to housing styles of previous eras, tricked out with modern geegaws. This infuriates the theorists, I’m sure: sheep! Content to be herded into gabled pens! But certain architectural styles and details spell “shelter” for most people, and oughtn’t we accommodate their wishes? Even if the end result is an aesthetic refutation of the historical inevitability of modernism? Yes yes they’re all dreadfully inauthentic, but if the bourgoise clamored for the modern they’d still be held in contempt. Eventually. The suburban rambler in its Brady glory was quite modern, after all. And no one exactly praised Middle America for embracing that style. They were excoriated for the usual reasons, and the urban theorists complained that the streets were too wide. The stone was fake. The garages too gauche. I swear: some people will not be happy until the people who are usually happy aren’t.


U.S. President George Bush is preferable as a winner in the upcoming election compared with Democratic nominee-apparent Sen John Kerry due to his tough stance against North Korea, a brother of a Japanese woman kidnapped by North Korea in 1978 said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan Tuesday.

"The families of abduction victims fear the United States under control of Mr Kerry might accept bilateral negotiations with North Korea and the abduction issue would be possibly put on ice," said Teruaki Masumoto whose older sister, Rumiko, was abducted to North Korea in 1978 at age 24. Masumoto said the opinion has not been officially expressed by the group of victims' families but almost all the members share the view.
Well, there you have it: I guess the election is over, then.


The Dear Leader is, according to some reports, a scratch golfer.
News flash: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il likes golf. A lot. And according to the government- run news agencies, he's the greatest player since . . . well, Tiger Woods couldn't carry his bag.

North Korea has one golf course, a 7,700-yard layout. It turns out that Kim Jong Il holds the course record of 34 for 18 holes with five holes-in-one. But don't consider that so surprising, since the "Dear Leader" regularly aces a hole or three each time he hits the links.

Kim's winnings on the PGA tour could prove to be a boon to the cash-starved DPRK.


"for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens." So reads the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in "HAMDI et al. v. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, et al." I'm hardly a legal eagle but that sounds about right to me. Even if it means letting some bad guys get away, it is a worthwhile affirmation of the principle of the rule of law.

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