Friday, December 20, 2002

# Posted 10:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SEND HIM BACK TO CHINA: Here's what Nick Kristof has to say about North Korea: "Washington's failure to engage North Korea has in a few months turned a minor problem (a uranium program that would take years to produce weapons) into a major crisis (the restarting of a reactor with enough plutonium to produce five additional warheads)."

Huh? By "engagement" does Kristof mean that the US should have said nothing about North Korea's secret and illegal nuclear program? Or that it should have rewarded it with additional aid? As I see, it there was no better moment to confront the North Koreans. In the face of a UN resolution that condemns Iraq for its secret weapons programs, the North Koreans will have no choice but to concede that their actions violate all existing notions of acceptable state behavior. That puts them on the defensive when negotiations begin. For the moment, things are worse than they were before the US exposed North Korea's deception. But the only alternative was to wait for North Korea's secret nuclear program to succeed, at which point it would have been able to blackmail the West for better terms than it got in 1994.

The thing about Kristof is that he's a good reporter but a terrible columnist. His previous column was so bad I didn't even have the patience to fisk it. But if he's willing to do another stint abroad, the Times should send him back to the hunting grounds where he earned his Pulitzer.

For good advice on the Korean situation, the President should turn to an op-ed in the Post by Georgetown prof Victor Cha, who advises that the United States should not antagonize Roh Moo Hyun, the South Korean candidate who won by capitalizing on anti-American resentment. Kim Dae Jung, the current president, built his reputation the same way, but developed into a staunch ally of the United States.

With the South so dependent on the United States for security, periodic hostility is unavoidable. More importantly, no approach to the North can succeed without strong backing from the South, whose interests are immediately threatened by the North in a way that ours are not. Necessary as it is, getting tough with North Korea means raising tensions on the peninsula. If we have to threaten the North with force, such threats will only be credible if they have the unconditional support of the South, whose civilians will pay a heavy price if war breaks out. It is these same citizens who have made South Korea the strong democracy that it now is, and their opinion must be respected.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments: Post a Comment