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Appeasement, Please

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Sierra Mike, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    From The Slate:

    Read all about it at Dear Leader Cries, "Love Me, Tease Me, Appease Me!"

    Well. I'm not a big proponent of war on the Korean Peninsula--as much as I like Asia, I am resistant to the possibility of having to pull on a cold weather flight suit and strapping on some sort of aircraft to conduct attack operations. But so far, I haven't read anything about China, Japan, or Russia screaming at the US to halt and stop everything and roll over like a dog in the vain hopes that our smiling and ever dashing Dear Leader will rub our collective belly. Not only is he unlikely to do it, but there's also a good chance that dog is still a favored North Korean menu item.

    Appeasement sounds nice here, but does it solve the problem? No, it merely makes it go away for a while longer. It's pretty obvious to me (but apparently quite lost upon Fred Kaplan) that peace is not what the DPRK prays for. It is not, in my estimation, what the DPRK hopes to gain from a "non-aggression pact" with the US; all Kim Jong-il and his cronies want is a piece of paper which would serve to tangle up America's military feet should hostilities be imminent. (I, for one, am fairly sure countries such as France would cry foul should the US respond to military belligerence on the DMZ.)

    By the way, I must take this moment to correct Mr. Kaplan in one important aspect of his wailings: the existence of a condition of war is not being perpetuated as a yet unreconciled dispute between the DPRK and the US; it is a condition of war between the DPRK and the ROK. The US commitment has been to assisting the ROK in surviving in the face of one of the world's last monolithic threats. To be more direct, all of this non-aggression pact stuff is crap; if the DPRK wants to play, it should lobby for a pact with the ROK. They're the ones they're in an imbroglio with, not the US. I mention this fact only in passing, as it is unlikely Mr. Kaplan is likely to recognize this de facto situation, even though the United Nations has declared it a de jure condition.

    If the DPRK wants to sign a non-aggression pact, then it has to make some substantial commitments to the agreement. Remove ten armor divisions about 300 statute miles from the DMZ, which will leave them with around 15,000-20,000 troops stationed at the DMZ. Redeploy their artillery brigades further north, where they can't have them continuously zeroed on Seoul. Scrap all missile sales programs. Allow UN monitors to examine not only their nuclear facilities, but also their chemical and biological installations as well. And yes, damn it, rejoin the "Sunshine policy" with a real commitment to getting some work done easing tensions and reuniting families, as opposed to halfheartedly playing with it like some trucelent child.

    In response, the US promises not to attack, but reserves the rights to plus-up troops and materiel in the event of a DPRK violation...such as redeploying their forces back to the DMZ, resuming long-range missile testing, or initiating more piecemeal hostilities against ROK forces. And not only that, we resume much-needed food and fuel shipments to try and keep the suffering at bay.

    None of this is reaching too far, but at the same time, none of this is ever likely. The DPRK is built on the solid foundation of a personality cult that is both longstanding and brutally enforced. We have no idea how brutal it truly is to be a citizen of that nation; one can only surmise that if a nation like the People's Republic of China still executes political dissidents and then charges the deceased's family for the costs incurred in the execution, then things must only be worse in the DPRK.

    Ultimately, the DPRK continues its age-old gambits of blackmail. It is almost an inarguable position to take that for decades, the DPRK has successfully blackmailed the ROK and Japan, and by extension, the US; now, with the divulgence that it is a nascent nuclear power, one can logically extrapolate that Beijing and ultimately Moscow--with whom Pyongyang has long been disenfranchised--will be legitimate targets for North Korean adventurism. Beijing, at the very least, has been in a major hurry to distance itself from the Dear Leader's latest antics. Not because it is in disagreement with the North's desire to bait the US; but because it fears to be implicated in espousing such by the international community.

    Even America's uber-dove, Colin Powell, has seen it fit to publically refuse to provide the DPRK with any amelioration on the public affairs front. While downplaying the event as a "serious event' rather than a "crisis," which is what Pyongyang is striving for, Powell also maintains the line that rewarding the DPRK for "bad behavior" is out of the question. And why not? The American left, be it far or center, routinely decries the use of force against Iraq, maintaining the US created Saddam Hussein. By giving in and rewarding Pyongyang with what it desires, does the US in turn not in effect play a hand in supporting a diseased dragon? After all, one cannot be certain that economic aid provided to the DPRK will not be resold for currency, wherein additional military advancements can be made. Most certainly, the PRC is shortsighted enough to provide arms and combat logistics supplies to the DPRK in a bid to keep the North Korean leadership happy. After all, it's to the PRC's advantage, so long as it's kept quet; America's orientation remains fixed on the DPRK, allowing the PRC to continue its own military modernizations and--surprise, surprise--continue its pursuit of becoming a hegemonistic power with the martial might to fulfill its eventual aims.

    However, the ROK is clearly beginning to buckle beneath stress fatigue. The scarcely-concealed hostility between the North and South has been a source of social and economic unrest for the Republic of Korea for decades. In this, the DPRK has been either extremely wise or extremely lucky; as democracy and liberalism flourish in the south, where the East Pacific's first real viable economy in the 21st Century has emerged, people have grown weary of living under the threat of war. It does appear the ROK government has lost its focus in a way Europe never did when it was faced by the Soviet threat. The ROK is manifesting a rather curious belief that since war has not broken out over the course of the last 50 years, then it is likely to never occur. That Pyongyang has twisted every overture of peace into a dagger and sunk it into the ROK's heart at every turn is inexplicably lost upon them. They do wish to "appease" the DPRK...even though it could, eventually, mean the loss of everything they've worked so hard to build.

  2. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Well spoken, Steve. I agree with the administration's moves in this regard. A quid pro quo approach would be a huge mistake.

    I think the stall tactic now is the right one. North Korea likely already has nuclear capability anyway, or soon will have it despite any efforts we make. Their pursuit of enriched uranium is indicative of that.

    So what happens if we simply do nothing but dissolve any current economic agreements? North learns that "Uncle Homey ain't gonna play dat anymore". They certainly can't eat those bombs for breakfast. And now that the bomb didn't work to get what they wanted, then it's either use it or not. And using it is not an option.

    Once the situation with Iraq is stabilized, I look for North Korea to take an entirely different approach, at which time they'll have to pay for their current faux pas.
  3. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I agree with you, and there is the possibility that the DPRK might have anticipated this. It's a dimension that's not readily discussed, but this could be the North's last gamble at forcing a non-aggression pact, given that Bush publically put them on notice by adding them to the "axis of evil" list. And he was right to do so, of course; I don't think anyone can make a cogent argument that the DPRK is merely misunderstood. They've always held the initiative on the Korean peninsula; people like Mr. Kaplan fail to understand just how much of this mess has been caused by North Korea, in abandoning agreements which had actually gone a great way toward bringing peace.

    For the record, I personally don't fault the Clinton Administration for throwing carrots back in 1994. It was a different world back then, and admonishing someone for past policies is a lot like crying about the winter snow when you live in Gnome, Alaska. You can do it, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

    I also don't fault the Bush Administration for taking a more moderate, slightly harder line on the DPRK. All they have to do is relent, and they'll get what they want. Their only alternative is a war which will indeed result in their destruction, and a unified Korean peninsula in which they have no say. The US and the ROK will win the war, though the ROK will suffer terribly because of it.

    And the ROK military is full of hardliners that make the rest of us look like pansies. But it would be a great shame for a war to erupt, and have the ROK citizenry not only stab the US military in the back, but their own, as well.

    I don't rightly trust the new ROK president. I think he will make ridiculous sacrifices to curry the favor of the DPRK and the illusion of peace.

  4. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    Dear Friends,
    I am not sure, in spite of my tendency to deplore violence, that the North Korean Government, being desparate for hard currency, without hope of relieving the internal poloitical tensions, and having a leader with genuine, as opposed to Saddamistic, charisma, is not more similiar to Germany, 1937 or so, than Iraq is.
    I behooves us to look not at what we would like to do, to wit, weed out terrorism by destorying its support in the islamic dictatorships. Rather what we must do, which is defend, by force if need be, US interests, including the safety of her allies.
    Hating Arabs after 9/11 is popular, Israel is a beloved cause, and oil has a certain caché, but paternal loyalty and high emotion aside, someone needs to perform a rational analysis of the actual imminence of danger, rather than deploy troops and resources by opinion poll.
    Civilian leadership of ther military is what one has after the best intelligence and military decisions are given the CIC. His duty lies not in pandering to the public, but in choosing among those things which in all reasonableness require civilian commitment to a military necessity.
    I am far from convinced that, at this very moment, one lying genocidal maniac is somehow preferable to a nuke wielding fanatic.
  5. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    I share your concerns, Martin. The only point I'd like to add to your and Steve's fine comments are that North Korea's timing seems much more than coincidental.

    At a time when there is a clear and obvious troop build-up for deployment to Iraq, North Korea may be counting on both the distraction of the American public and a (hopefully incorrect) perception that the U.S. will be both unwilling and unable to wage two regional wars.

    Our interests will most certainly fare better if we unequivocally show North Korea our abiding interest in South Korea's welfare, our unwillingness to let North Korea be the first country to engage in nuclear proliferation, and our decided intent and ability to fight two regional conflicts, if required to do so.
  6. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Nor I.

    As I stated before, what we do at specific points in time were the right thing to do THEN. I'm more concerned with right NOW. That Clinton afforded Kim Jong-il opportunity to respond and develop diplomacy, even if on hostile terms, was the right thing to do. Kim Jong-il was still in his political infancy.

    Now I get the impression that we're dealing with a childish political mentality. Sometimes you have to let the child sleep in the bed he made.

    What can he do if we do nothing? And what would the South do if we do nothing? Throw us out? Okay, if you insist. But if that happens and it becomes a worst case scenario, I would recommend the same approach we had toward Somalia. No thanks.
  7. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, I'm not so sure about that. :)

    This is an extremely important region in the world...number one, the population is huge. Number two, the ROK will supersede Japan as the largest local economy, and will in turn likely be eclipsed by China. A US withdrawal from the peninsula under the appropriate circumstances--an ROK referendum--could be countenanced, but abandoning the ROK completely to what is still very much a militant and expansionist DPRK is foolhardy.

    Remember, the new President aside, most of the people who are lobbying for change are people in their 20s and early 30s. They don't know squat about life yet. They have no idea what it is they're asking for.

    US withdrawal from the region is not really an open option, barring a referendum from the ROK which reveals the true will of the people. When America slowly slides out of the No. 1 spot, the next great empires will be Asian. We need to be an erstwhile ally, to ensure that our concerns are still heard.

  8. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    "US withdrawal from the region is not really an open option, barring a referendum from the ROK which reveals the true will of the people. When America slowly slides out of the No. 1 spot, the next great empires will be Asian. We need to be an erstwhile ally, to ensure that our concerns are still heard."

    Dear Friends,
    Such wisdom is rare, and, were it not, the world, in spite of cultural differences, would remain civil and peaceful, resolving conflict by reason.
    Lastly, its rarity precludes its swaying the sails of the course of history, when empire fades into empire withou respite from the toil of war.
    How so few see the sun upon the horizon leaves me myself adrift in the sea of doubt.
  9. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    *breaks out his yazdzik decoder ring*

  10. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    You were just highly praised. I think.
  11. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    I *know* Steve was just highly praised. Yet one more example of why he would make a *great* teacher! ;)
  12. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I think I should just be a newspaper columnist and call it a day. Maybe get a degree in something...well...hmm. All that money to further my education listening to professors in a college? Or just spend it travelling and learning about life first hand?

    Decisions, decisions...

  13. jamming

    jamming Banned

    Do both do the College's Study Abroad Program, Travel and get Credits.
  14. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    While giving rich, pretty women flying lessons. Aircraft optional ;)

    *my sense of humor will get me shot yet*
  15. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

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