26 May 2009

North Korean Tests and Resolutions

Over the long, holiday weekend, the North Koreans tested a nuclear weapon and test fired some missiles. Various agencies suggest that the nuclear test was on par with the bombs used to end World War II. The UN Security Council will most likely issue some sort of “resolution” or other condemning the act – as if a voiced, group condemnation will reverberate more with the Dear Leader than singular ones.

The uncomfortable thing about North Korea, from my point of view, is that negotiations and rational discussions are precious little good, and indeed may be counter-productive to those who would contain the totalitarian state, because the North Koreans are not your typical, rational actors. The UN cannot negotiate its way around the North Korean problem. This means, I fear, that the UN will ultimately be reduced to doing nothing meaningful.

The way to deal with North Korea, I believe, is to isolate it as completely as possible; what goes into and what comes out of the country must be closely guarded. This would be a very difficult task, to be sure. Where this gets even more difficult is that, eventually, naked aggression would emerge from North Korea, the totalitarian reaction from being forced into a box. Therefore, responsible and affected countries would have to be fully prepared to preempt or absorb a North Korean military push. Also, the US would have to (and should) aggressively pursue missile defense systems, especially those which are nimble enough to handle emerging threats regardless of region.

Not that these will happen; I do not think that they will. What will most likely emerge from the UN this week is a “resolution” condemning past actions of the North Koreans, strong wording urging them to come back to the negotiation table, assurances of aid and such if this is accomplished, and the ball will roll on down the line. We’ve been here before; wash, rinse, repeat.

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