Written by Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
To a degree almost impossible to imagine just a month ago, North Korea has won international attention, dominated events in Northeast Asia, and embarrassed the United States. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has played into Pyongyang’s hands by responding to the North’s provocations. Now Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting East Asia, beginning Friday, where the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will dominate the agenda.
Rushing off to the region on a high-profile trip is another mistake. Whatever Secretary Kerry does or says is likely to be seen as enhancing the DPRK’s stature. Better for him to have stayed home, phoning his counterparts as appropriate.
No doubt the Obama administration hopes to craft a diplomatic answer to what is widely seen as a crisis. However, Washington dare not reward the North for its caterwauling, even if Kim Jong-un suddenly adopts the mien of a serious leader of a serious nation. Rather, Secretary Kerry should hold out the possibility of engagement, even diplomatic relations—but only if Pyongyang chooses to behave like other nations. No more providing benefits in response to threats.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stopped by NBC’s Meet The Press (MTP) Sunday morning to discuss U.S. foreign relations with North Korea. In the wake of recent threats made by the North, Graham expressed support for President Obama’s recent flexing of military strength as a warning saying,
“I think the North Koreans are over-playing their hands. And this [President Obama’s] administration’s acted responsibly. I’m glad we’re not doing the ballistic missile test. I’m glad we had the B-2’s in the theater where they could see ‘em.I’m glad we’re telling our allies South Korea and Japan, ‘We literally have your back’ and the North Koreans need to understand if they attack an American interest or an ally of this country, they’re going [to] pay a heavy price.”
When asked by MTP host David Gregory to give his thoughts on American interests in the region where nearly 30,000 US troops are stationed, Graham replied,
“We’re in the middle. I’m glad we’re there with our allies but the big difference to me is the politics in South Korea are changing by the day regarding North Korea. So if there’s some provocation, it won’t be business as usual by South Korea. I could see a major war happening if the North Koreans overplay their hand this time because the public in South Korea, the United States and I think the whole region is fed up with this guy.”
Gregory probed further saying, “But what happens if there is some kind of conflict between the North and South? That becomes a conflict with the United States doesn’t it?”
To this Graham responded, “The North loses and the South wins with our help, that’s what happens.”
Opinions on the role of the UN in a modern world differ greatly. To some, the UN is a bureaucratic cesspool that brings nothing of value to the world. To others, it is a cherished organization that offers the possibility of resolving conflicts through diplomacy. To Manhattan commuters — even the ones who love what the UN represents — the organization has become synonymous with congested traffic, road closures, and being late for happy hour. I happen to fall somewhere in the middle: believing the UN is indeed a bureaucratic mess but also valuing the idea of voluntary associations and cooperation between nations.
What I wish to discuss today is just how ridiculous the UN has become. The organization is a great example of what moral bankruptcy looks like in practice: say one thing, but DO the exact opposite.
Case in point: the recent news that Syria appears likely to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Yes, you read that correctly. A government that has been torturing and killing its own citizens for over a year is set to become a member of the body charged with protecting … human rights.
And in case anyone doubts the depravity of Al-Assad’s regime, click on the links below (Disclaimer: some of the images are shocking):
Just after the world lost the esteemable Christopher Hitchens and the visionary Vaclav Havel, it has now lost…Kim Jong Il. The crazy North Korean midget dictator.
Now his son, Kim Jung Un (which sounds like a verb; “Yeah, I was down at the Asian market just kimjong’un”) is in control. As Doug Mataconis tweeted this morning:
A 28yo in charge of nukes, a million man army, and tens of thousands of artillery pieces that can hit Seoul. What could possibly go wrong?
Forgive me if I’m not going to feel particularly hopeful about this.
Kim Jong Il was a bit crazy, we all knew that, But he was also crazy smart. He had the Western world, plus Beijing, dancing to his tune. “Give us food or we nuke Seoul!” And ultimately, we did. He played us well.
His son? Frankly, I’m not sure we have any idea what he’ll do. CBS reports:
North Korea’s heir apparent Kim Jong Un has swiftly risen to power since being made a four-star general a year ago, but he is even more of an enigma than his late father was during 17 years of absolute power.
Within hours of news breaking Monday of leader Kim Jong Il’s death over the weekend, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency was reporting that the country, people and military “must faithfully revere respectable comrade Kim Jong Un.”
The agency also referred to Jong Un as a “great successor” of the North’s guiding philosophy of self reliance and a “distinguished leader of the military and people.”
South Korea, meanwhile, put its military on high alert, while people in the streets of Pyongyang broke into tears as they learned the news that Kim had died at the age 69 of heart failure.
The United States of America is supposed to be a beacon of freedom. As such, foreign policy debate often serves as a platform regarding the use of force, supposedly to make another nation free. Such was the thought processes many used to justify going into Iraq. The same is true of activity in Libya. However, why are we so generally uneven with our use of force?
Prior to going into Iraq, I heard a number of people say that we must remove Saddam from power, that he was a threat and therefore the loss of American lives was justified. So, understanding that this nation must defend itself, I asked why are we not looking at North Korea? After all, Kim Jung Il has nuclear weapons and isn’t exactly what one would call “mentally stable”. That’s far worse than the chemical weapons Saddam allegedly had (and, for the record, I believed they were there too). I was told that fighting North Korea would be to costly in terms of causalities. Really? So causalities is justified for one instance but not another? Interesting.
Fast forward to today. Syria and Libya are both in the midst of revolution. Libya’s started as a peaceful movement, like so many throughout the Middle East this year…including Syria. It turned violent, and the United States began flying missions in support of the new revolutionaries. Meanwhile, in Syria, the violence from the government has escalated with no mention of military intervention. It’s not like we don’t already have assets in the region.
Yesterday, we learned that he villains in Red Dawn were being changed from the Chinese to the North Koreans. I can already tell that a lot of people are going to be up in arms regarding the change and scream “PC!” The truth of the matter is that the free market determined the change.
[P]otential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower, one of the fastest-growing and potentially most lucrative markets for American movies, not to mention other U.S. products.
As a result, the filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from “Red Dawn,” substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake…
Quote thanks to Hot Air.
Honestly, that’s not PC, that’s capitalism baby. They don’t want to shut off a huge potential market, so they went with a nation that could fit the role and wouldn’t alienate a group they would be trying to sell it too. Basically, they want to make more money by not pissing off a group of communists they can exploit for imperialistic capitalism. Ain’t America great?
Now, I’m a huge fan of the original film. It’s half the reason I wanted an AK-47 when I got old enough. I promise you, every AK owner stands in front of a mirror, hoists his weapon up with his right hand, and yells out “Wolverines!”
WikiLeaks has dropped its bombshell cache of U.S. diplomatic cables, ripping the cloak off scores of secret deals and duds, including clandestine North Korean support for Iran and the Bush administration’s failed attempt to remove nuclear material from Pakistan.
The release — more than a quarter-million back-channel cables that include brutally candid assessments of world leaders and previously undisclosed details of nuclear and antiterrorism activity — represents the most embarrassing and potentially damaging disclosure of American diplomatic material in decades.
“I don’t see the world ending … but lots of red, sputtering faces in D.C., embassies and capitals,” a senior American diplomat told POLITICO early Sunday, just before the release of the documents, which chronicle the sprawling growth of the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence corps after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The diplomat also predicted that governments and individuals overseas are likely to clam up as a result of the disclosures, “since no one will trust us to keep a secret for a while,” while “various and sundry interest groups will cherry-pick whatever can be found in the documents to support whatever version of reality they are peddling.”
In a move apparently related to Bill Clinton’s arrival there today, North Korea has released the two American journalists convicted of spying earlier this year
SEOUL, South Korea — The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, pardoned two jailed American journalists, the official KCNA news agency has reported, according to Reuters. The report came after former President Bill Clinton met with the reclusive and ailing Mr. Kim in Pyongyang on Tuesday.
“Attempts to expand the military infrastructure of Nato near the borders of our country are continuing,” Medvedev told an annual meeting with the Defence Ministry’s staff.
Russia has described plans by the previous US administration to grant Nato membership to ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia, and to deploy elements of a US missile shield in Eastern Europe, as a direct threat to its national security.