Third Party & Independents Archives

October 09, 2006

N. Korea Joins Nuclear Club

The Washington Post reports:

North Korea declared on Monday that it had conducted its first nuclear test, a claim verified by monitoring authorities in China and South Korea…
Must the world now put an end to the Kim Jung Il regime?

Before folks respond in knee jerk fashion to that question, consider this. What if the consequences of the options to remove Kim Jung Il from power, are more devastating than leaving him in power? The world now faces the same decision the United States had to make when deliberating whether to invade Iraq. Will the cure be worse than illness? Is N. Korea a regional problem for China, India, Pakistan, and Japan to work out for themselves?

If ever there were a time to bring the best minds together to develop all possible courses of action and contemplate and weigh the consequences, both likely and possible, this is such a time. Unilateral action by the United States will cost her a considerable sum of what diminished political and diplomatic capital she still has in the world amongst allies and neutral countries. Multilateral action can go in a very positive or, very negative direction depending upon whom the partners are in the coalition.

Multilateral action which does not include China, carries a possibility for enormous global economic and politically negative consequences. China is moving rapidly toward economic independence with the U.S. and Europe. However, China is not yet so dependent that it can be bullied into geopolitical arrangements which it may perceive as a potential short or long term strategic threat to its own border, like U.S. forces and weapons on her border.

The bulk of the European Union nations may also have to assent. Should Germany and the United Kingdom sign on without the rest of the EU, the tenuous union itself may be threatened with dissolution and possible internal civil unrest. A prospect with enormous economic costs for the whole of Europe.

Cordoning off N. Korea with military blockades which permit no ships, nor other vehicles to leave N. Korea uninspected, could result in a costly and protracted escalation of containment costs and military engagements between the N. Korean army and members of the military blockade. The cordon, of course, would preempt N. Korea from exporting its nuclear capability to black marketeers, in return for needed cash and food. A complete economic cordon around N. Korea could force an invasion of S. Korea as starvation and other privations becomes even more prevalent amongst the N. Korean people, causing a humanitarian crisis for which the coalition forces would share blame.

Should such a cordon be accompanied by humanitarian aid to N. Korea to forestall a humanitarian crisis? But, would such aid not also be converted by Jung Il's regime for its own militaristic purposes? Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It is the pre-invasion Iraq sanctions redux.

No doubt, one option that will be considered will be a massive mulitnational surgical invasion which has but one objective: taking out Kim Jung Il and the heads of his military. But, that leaves in its wake, the Iraqi mandate to establish a new government, rebuild infrastructure, and recreate society from the ground up. While there truly is little liklihood of a civil war consequence in N. Korea, there will be an insurgency that will want to prevent loss of N. Korean autonomy via a united North and South Korea into one Korean nation.

I am by no means an expert on N. Korea, nor the geopolitical situation surrounding Korea. Surely, if I, as a regular consumer of current world events in the American news media can foresee such possibilities, would it not be prudent for the American people to insist that our government also give at least this much open and deliberative examination of the options available before commiting to a plan of action? Should our government be obligated to develop a plan, share it with the people via the Congress, and get their assent by proxy in the Congress, before committing our nation to the costs of rebuilding yet another nation in N. Korea?

And shouldn't our Congress, this time, fully exercise their oversight duty, and vet all of the options and administration plans and intelligence, BEFORE committing our sons and daughters to die in yet another far off land? Should the American people know before hand, what the deficits and national debt increases will be BEFORE our representatives commit. Should we the American people not start contacting our representatives and demand nothing less, in light of their past record, with Iraq?

Or, should we just vote out Congress out and start with a new batch of politicians who might be more willing to listen to the people's concerns?

Posted by David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 05:39 AM
Comments
Comment #187077

I can hear it already. Karl Rove caused the N.Koreans to set off a nuclear bomb in order to change the subject from Foleygate back to national security issues before the election.

“Hey big K, this is little K, whassup?”

“I here. Kim Jong in the hizzy!”

“Hey I need ya to do me a favor and pop off a nuke real quick so we can change the news around here.”

“No problem, little K, I been waiting to play with new birthday present for ever!!”

Ah, the all encompassing power of ol’ Turd Blossom.

Posted by: Duane-o at October 9, 2006 07:46 AM
Comment #187087

Duane-o, and your comment bears on the topic of this article, how?

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 08:21 AM
Comment #187088

David, that’s obvious, Duane-o actually managed to put the words “nuke”, “N.Koreans” and “Kim Jong” in one single post. In pure spinmaster tradition…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 9, 2006 08:36 AM
Comment #187090

Let’s not forget all those missiles aimed presently at S. Korea, which has kept us from doing much about anything for quite sometime.

I have a son sitting on the border, so I don’t take this lightly at all; but it might be time to show some real power, since he doesn’t seem to understand anything else.

Posted by: Zebster at October 9, 2006 09:02 AM
Comment #187093
it might be time to show some real power, since he doesn’t seem to understand anything else.

In fact, I think he (Kim Jong) understand it too well, as he’s the one today showing some real power.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 9, 2006 09:44 AM
Comment #187095

David:

Multilateral action can go in a very positive or, very negative direction depending upon whom the partners are in the coalition.

You say action could provide positive or negative direction, but in reading your post, I fail to see an examples of positive direction. You mentioned the negatives of not including China or the bulk of Europe, and then listed the negatives of a military blockade (cost; possible export of nukes on black market; possible invasion of South Korea by North Korea; and the possible use of humanitarian aid by the NK military).

I’m still looking for something positive in your post, but I fail to find it.

I agree with your points about the need for multi-national action in regard to North Korea. But it is important to recognize that the horse is at the barn door, and the barn door has been left open for a while. During the 90’s the US developed the KELO treaty, but NK certainly broke it and some say the US didn’t meet its obligations under KELO either. But by not enforcing the treaty then, we now face a problem of greater magnitude.

There are certainly potential negatives that come with action, as you pointed out. What you didn’t comment on was the potential negatives that come from inaction. If the world does nothing about NK’s breaking of their nuclear promises, then it shows other regimes that the world is powerless, or at least unwilling to use its power, to prevent the spread of nuclear weaponry.

Some argue that all countries should have the same right to nukes as any other country has…but we should be able to see how that kind of laissez faire thinking could create the much greater probability of nuclear war. Do we really want terrorists holding nuclear weapons when they’ve shown that they are willing to simply inflict pain and death upon others, even if it means their own pain and death? That would be a tough argument to make.

David, seems to me the question lies in action or inaction. You’ve shown the potential problems with action, while I think the potential problems of inaction are worse. I don’t have a clear understanding of what course you think should be taken. No course is free from problems—the question simply becomes which course is the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 9, 2006 09:55 AM
Comment #187096

Phillippe,

Spinmaster? I think you need to catch up on today’s news. “Kim Jong” Il is the leader of the “N.Koreans”, who just tested a “nuke”. If that’s spinmaster material, then ABC, NBC, CBS, the NYT, the Washington Post, and the Associated press are all spinmasters, as well. Oh, yeah and your French media must be spinning also.

Posted by: Duane-o at October 9, 2006 09:56 AM
Comment #187101

Duane-o,

I’ve heard about NK nuke test, indeed. Thanks for caring about my news supply.

Yet, you tried in your previous post to spin the thread from original David arguments to a quite off-topic sarcastic one were leftists, in your brain, would push massive conspiracy theories on Karl Rove playing this NK nukular test card to divert voters from Foleygate…

Where did you read anything about democrats, republicans or Foleygate in David post? In no case David wrote about US domestic issues here.

Could you do it too?
Thanks.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 9, 2006 10:10 AM
Comment #187113

JBOD, INaction? Do some homework.

Inaction regarding China’s and Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, one communist and the other an Islamic military dictator state, have not resulted in catastrophic results.

Russia had nuclear weapons under many dictators who appeared very threatening at times, but, in the end, we had one crisis and both sides agreed to back away and compromise themselves out of the brink.

Like I said. I am not an expert in this area. But, inaction regarding dictators and communists acquiring nuclear weapons have not yet caused anywhere near the deaths and destruction we have caused in Iraq.

So, I have to question your rationale for making the statement: “You’ve shown the potential problems with action, while I think the potential problems of inaction are worse.”

Now, let me also clarify a mixing of threats in your comment. N. Korea is not a terrorist state. Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorist organizations is a whole other threat, which was NOT the subject of this article. I know of no one advocating inaction when it comes to keeping nuclear weapons from the hands of international terrorist organizations. So, let’s be careful we don’t mix apples and oranges here.

My whole article begs the question: Is invasion of N. Korea necessary, and if so, who should accomplish that mission, how much will it cost, who will bear the cost, and who will be responsible for cleaning up the consequences.

We know that N. Korea poses no serious threat to the U.S. The S. Koreans want us out of S. Korea. Acceding to their wish removes even our troops from N. Korea’s reach. They don’t have intercontinental ballistic missiles. They don’t even have regional missiles that work yet.

Which begs the question: Is it necessary for the U.S. to respond?

Now, you raise a very good point in terms of the consequence of no international response to N. Korea’s joining the nuclear club, and the message that may allow to be perceived by other wannabe nations. That is a crucial factor, but, in and of itself, does not mandate anykind of military or sanctions response by the U.S. at this time, it other nations are going to respond.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #187115

Here’s an idea some of use were discussing last night: What if we just remove all sanctions on NK, let the people of NK know that the US if a friend and not part of their problems and see what happens? What really changes? Currently we have a leader of questionable judgement holding down the people of his country and threatening his neighbors with a huge conventional and now nuclear military. The country has been isolated for 50 years which has really only done three things:

1) made the central government the sole provider for the nation
2) starved the population to the point that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have died and prospect of any internal uprising becomes 0
3) allowed the central government to externalize the conflict pointing the west as the cause, and the NK government as the only possible solution

By removing sanctions, part 3 goes away immediately. Then, in offering business investment in the country on the condition that these are for profit ventures, I think we create a situation with only upside:

1) they agree, businesses move in, create an economic base that in turn creates a powerful business class that then has motivation to increasingly open the country

2) they disagree, but there is recognition by some in the government that they are loosing out on establishing their own personal wealth, they over throw the current regime and we go part one

3) nothing changes, theres still a crazy guy at the helm, theres still a million man army and thousands of missles pointed at SK and were in the same place we are now, only, we’re not spending time and money on these sanctions, and with out the west as an external focus for conflict, point 2 remains a possibility.

Im just some guy, and maybe Im missing some grand points here that make all this impossible, but Im not really sure how the situation could get a whole lot worse, open warfare as the obvious exception, but this actually seems like a viable option.

Am I nuts? Am I the new Kim Jung Il?

Posted by: Justin Spohn at October 9, 2006 11:29 AM
Comment #187117

North Korea is just another example of the impotency of the UN. It’s just another of a recent string of countries defying UN resolutions.
These countries know what it seems most in the US don’t. The UN has it’s hands tied behind it’s back and not only can’t but won’t enforce it’s resolutions.
It has no military forces and is reliant on only whatever countries decide to send their military forces to it’s actions. And most the countries aren’t very willing to carry out enforcement of UN resolutions.
I hope and pray that this issue with N. Korea can be resolved without military action. But I doubt it. And if it comes to military action it ain’t gonna be pretty. I think we can expect at least an attempted nuke strike against us.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 9, 2006 11:34 AM
Comment #187118

Justin
Your nuts. But in a good way. Your ideas just might work. That’s why no one that makes decisions is gonna think of them.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 9, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #187119

Justin, some innovative and creative thinking on your part. Well done!

One clarification. Kim Jung Il, is NOT crazy, insane, or otherwise demented. He is a very crafty and shrewd dictator and those who fail to recognize these facts, deal with the man at their own peril.

Insane people may ascend to positions of power, but, they cannot long keep them. Kim Jung Il has demonstrated the kind of staying power that contradicts any speculation that he might be insane. Insanity parts company with reality. No leader who parts company with reality can hold on to power.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 11:39 AM
Comment #187123

Ron, N. Korea does not have the capacity to deliver a nuke strike at us. No missiles capable of delivering across either Ocean. You can rest easy for awhile. If they test an ICBM, we will know it and have ample warning before they achieve such capacity.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 11:42 AM
Comment #187136

David
Can we say for sure that N. Korea hasn’t received ICBMs from the Soviet Union?
While I don’t personally believe that they’d be successful if they shot a nuke at us I wouldn’t put it past them to try. If for no other reason other than to get the peaceniks over here on their side an screaming for an immediate pull out from N.Korea.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 9, 2006 11:59 AM
Comment #187139

David,
You are absolutely wrong about the South Koreans wanting the US to leave South Korea. Several years ago, the US started to redeploy troops from the DMZ to bases farther down South and in some cases, removing those troops from South Korea altogether. This policy actually upset the South Korean government, and they actually demanded we reaffirm our defense treaty with them.
South Korea wanted to continue its “Sunshine Policy” with North Korea, but also want the US to honor the defense treaty in case the “Sunshine Policy” failed. As I see it, South Korea does not want to face up to problem of North Korea and wants the US to handle some of the problem. If South Korea does not think that North Korea is a threat, then the US should acknowledge that and remove our troops. However, South Korea does not want that. Rather, they want to appease North Korea and then rely on the US should things go bad.
There are really no good solutions to the North Korea. I would be okay with an invasion, but I fully realize the cost in lives that it would require and the decades of rebuilding it would take. However, China, Russia, and South Korea will not tolerate that nor would the American people. So, we are not left with many attractive alternatives. As I see it, the big loser in the long run will be China. Japan will now rearm, something China is loathe to see happen. Already, Japan has been increasing its military budget and debating about changing its constitution. Now, I expect you will see Japan debate about developing nuclear weapons and eventually develop them.
Furthermore, I don’t see how anyone can oppose the US to continue to develop missile defenses. Already, the US has developed some interesting laser applications, one on a converted 747 capable of intercepting a missile during its boost phases, and the Marines are testing a tactical missile defense using a laser that would intercept theater ground to ground missiles (the Israelis are very interested in this due the threat posed by Katyusha rockets).
Finally, I would agree that North Korea having nuclear weapons is not the end of the world, since I don’t think Dear Leader wants to use them. However, the Dear Leader needs cash to support his lifestyle and the lifestyle of his supporters. Since North Korea’s economy is nonexistent, that leaves Dear Leader the option of selling nuclear weapons. That is the big danger. Do you think Dear Leader would not sell Al-Queda a nuclear weapon? I think if the price was right, North Korea would sell anything to anyone (the exception being the anything to Japan and the US).
We know that Pakistan had help from North Korea in developing nuclear weapons and that Libya contacted North Korea as well as Pakistan. I don’t think it is far fetched to think that Al-Queda would contact North Korea, and they probably have that capability given their close relationship with Pakistani intelligence.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 12:06 PM
Comment #187145

One more comment..
North Korea may not have the ability to target the US with ICBMs, but they probably do have the ability to put a warhead into orbit and that’s really all you have to do. While it would be very inaccurate, it would be possible to put a warhead into a decaying orbit that would eventually lead to the warhead coming down somewhere in North America. It would be crude, but mere threat of that would cause many people in this country to cower.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 12:13 PM
Comment #187161

Thuycdides,

Have you ever been to Korea?

While the government may want us to stay, the people would like to see us gone.

The generation that saw America as liberators, first from Japan, then from North Korea is dying off and the younger Koreans see us as occupiers.

Granted, it has been almost 10 years since I was there, but I don’t see the situation having changed that much since then.

Posted by: Rocky at October 9, 2006 12:52 PM
Comment #187170

Rocky,
On the generation gap, I would agree. Historically, Korea has been a very insular nation, i.e. the “Hermit Kingdom”.
That said the South Korean government got very nervous when the US DOD talked about redeploying US troops away from the DMZ and many away from South Korea. As I stated before, South Korea wants to be able to appease North Korea, but they also want the reassurance of the defense treaty with the US. If we forced them to choose, then they might select appeasement, but given the recent nuclear test, I doubt that now.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 01:05 PM
Comment #187171

Why not buy him off? If as David suggests, Kim is not insane, then he must be rational. If so, it would seem that a visit to him with an offer of a healthy retirement bonus for he and his family if he agreed to leave the country might be attractive. Of course the other side of the offer would be that if he didn’t, guys in black uniforms would drop in on him one night and garrotte him while he is sleeping.

I’d be willing to invest a billion or so to see the guy take up a rocking chair in some miniscule island in the South Pacific. Sure beats spending $300B like we’re doing in Iraq.

Posted by: Dennis at October 9, 2006 01:06 PM
Comment #187175

Ron said: “Can we say for sure that N. Korea hasn’t received ICBMs from the Soviet Union?”

Gee, Ron, can we say for sure Bush or Clinton aren’t the anti-christ?

Best to look for some evidence before acting on such suppositions, don’t you think? :->

It’s tough trying to sell a negative which can’t be proven. Kind of like trying to sell the idea that Saddam Hussein didn’t have WMD. Despite the fact that it was true, how does one prove something DOES NOT exist? It is one of diplomacy’s biggest obstacles.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 01:07 PM
Comment #187182

Thuycdides,

We still don’t know if the test was real.


Dennis,

“Of course the other side of the offer would be that if he didn’t, guys in black uniforms would drop in on him one night and garrotte him while he is sleeping.”

If that could happen, it probably have already been attempted.

As we have seen in Iraq, another invasion is hardly a cure for what ails the world.
Even if Bush re-instituted the draft this minute, we’re not prepared to fight any kind of ground war on this many fronts, and won’t be for quite some time.
If I can see that, I doubt seriously the rest of the world could miss it.

Let’s attempt to shelve the word “appeasement” for a while and relearn what the word diplomacy actually means.

Posted by: Rocky at October 9, 2006 01:22 PM
Comment #187183

Thuycdides, your comment’s ignorance remarkable. You may want to research before making foolish statements like that. Here are some sources backing my claim up:

Nearly half of South Korean youths who will be old enough to vote in the country’s next elections say Seoul should side with North Korea if the United States attacks the communist nation, according to a poll released Wednesday.

At the same time, 40.7 percent of the 1,000 young people surveyed said Seoul should remain neutral in the event of hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang, according to the poll by The Korea Times and Hankook Ilbo dailies. Only 11.6 percent said the South should back its longtime U.S. ally.

Another: An uneasy American in Seoul

Another from the BBC:

The majority of South Koreans want less or no US troops in their country, a survey showed on Thursday.

The poll - conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo, a major independent newspaper in Seoul - found that 57% of those surveyed favoured either a complete withdrawal or a reduction in the number of US troops in the country.

Try reading about foreign affairs before spouting off> It will keep your comments from containing such ignorance of reality.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 01:23 PM
Comment #187186

Dennis, Republicans buy off Jung Il? That is precisely what they criticized Bill Clinton for doing.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 01:30 PM
Comment #187189

Just another thought,

Why, if North Korea knew full well that they would face universal condemnation, would they announce the test?

If their intentions were truly malicious, and they truly wanted to scare the bejeezus out of the world, I think they would just hold the test and let every one else figure it out.

Posted by: Rocky at October 9, 2006 01:34 PM
Comment #187192

Dennis, Republicans buy off Jung Il? That is precisely what they criticized Bill Clinton for doing.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 01:30 PM
————————-
Yeah, I know, but they could package it differently so they could take credit for it.

Posted by: Dennis at October 9, 2006 01:39 PM
Comment #187194

Rocky, the answer is simple. Kim Jung Il has studied the global chess board carefully, and decided that is in his best interest and worth condemnation for the world to acknowledge his regime as a nuclear power. Nuclear powers don’t get invaded like Iraq.

It really is that simple. Now, whether he has calculated the global chessboard correctly or not, remains to be seen. But, it seems clear to me that that is his motive. The moreso, if it turns out the detonation was not nuclear at all. That would tip his hand wide open for all to see, as to motive.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 01:43 PM
Comment #187196

Dennis, Republican information packaging ain’t working so well, anymore, the polls seem to be showing.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 01:46 PM
Comment #187201

David,

IMHO, Kim Jung Il is no fool, and announcing a test that turns out to be false, only makes him look foolish.
On the other hand, he has to know that the rest of the world has the technology to detect a nuclear test.
If attention was his aim, holding the test without announcing it, would certainly achieve his goal.

And, would change the chessboard altogether.

Posted by: Rocky at October 9, 2006 01:56 PM
Comment #187204

Kim Jung Il, may be well aware that blasts under one kiloton cannot be seismically distinguished between nuclear and non-nuclear. Such small blasts underground also may not emit radioactivity. Hence, if it was not nuclear, he may be well aware that we could not prove it wasn’t.

Remember the sophist’s warning to students: You can’t prove a negative. If it wasn’t nuclear, the world is going to have a tough time proving it. That may be what he is counting on.

And no, he is no fool. But, he is human and capable of miscalculation, and decisions based on faulty information. That is what brought Saddam Hussein down. His own boasting of WMD, failing to anticipate that once boasted, he could never prove he didn’t have them thereafter. A gross miscalculation on Hussein’s part. As bad, or worse even, than Bush’s miscalculation on the consequences of invading Iraq.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 02:05 PM
Comment #187234

I agree with David that Kim Jong Il is involved in a dangerous chess game here, but North Korea is just one piece on the board and is not even the most important piece.

The key player is China. Despite China’s public “condemnation” of NK’s nuclear testing they could reign North Korea in a second if they actually wanted to. There is no way the NK regime can continue to exist without China’s support.

No, China sees it in their own interests to have a North Korea who is threatening the security and stability of the rest of Asia while they themselves remain in the shadows and don’t have to take the diplomatic heat.

Personally, I think that directly confronting NK militarily would be a mistake, as would be publicly calling out China.

Instead, we should raise the stakes for China and in effect join the chess game. Let them know in no uncertain terms that if they want to continue their shady little game, the US is going to move towards full diplomatic recognition of an independent Taiwan and begin pushing for a UN seat for Taiwan.

This is China’s worst nightmare, and I think we should call their bluff. I can’t see China going to war with Taiwan in order to protect their North Korean friends, but if they do, they will be clearly seen by everyone as the party responsible for escalating tenions.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 9, 2006 03:31 PM
Comment #187267

Yes, China is not going to tolerate too much nonsense. China likes N. Korea to be a thorn in our side, but they don’t want N. Korea painting China into a corner either.

Yes, confronting N.Korea militarily is a mistake. It’s not necessary. It could result in war between North and South Korea.

China sells a lot of products in the U.S.
Do they want to upset that apple cart?
Then there is Taiwan.
But, then, perhaps Kim Jong Il would like nothing better than to stir up some trouble between the U.S., China, Tiawan, South Korea, Japan, and Russia ?

Part of the problem is that the U.S. is not terribly popular around the world (especially in the region around N.Korea). Wonder how that happened? Perhaps it has something to do with invading other countries based on flawed intelligences (either incompetently flawed, or intentionally inflated; take your pick)?

Posted by: d.a.n at October 9, 2006 05:08 PM
Comment #187272

David,
Perhaps you should try reading my reply again, since you did not comprehend what I wrote.
Polls are one thing, government policies are another. Again, the South Korean government got very upset when the use redeployed troops, and continues to be very nervous about it. Can you state South Korea, citizens and government, would be dancing in the streets if the US stated we are not only withdrawing our troops but abrogating the defense treaty? Perhaps, David, you might want to read about the history of the Czech Republic circa 1938. You think Dear Leader might not change his policy if he knew the US would not respond.
As for appeasement, I think that is exactly what the “Sunshine Policy” is. South Korean has given North Korean significant amounts of aid for little to nothing in return.
As for Clinton policy on North Korea, it was a failure. The US and South Korean supplied oil and other materials in return for North Korea stopping its nuclear weapons program. North Korea responded by developing a uranium based weapons program. Clinton, like the current President, did not have many attractive alternatives, so he his policy was not foolish, just not successful. That said, I really can not think a very attractive alternative, except continue to develop missile defense, prepare to blockade the country if NK tries to sell a nuclear weapon, and watch nuclear weapons proliferate in East Asia.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 05:40 PM
Comment #187273

Thuycdides,

Diplomacy son, diplomacy.

It’s much cheaper in the long run, and usually gets better results.

Posted by: Rocky at October 9, 2006 05:45 PM
Comment #187275

Neo-con Pilsner..
Talking about raising the stakes..
First of all, it takes two to tango, and I am not sure Taiwan would appreciate that. It is not clear that independence is the will of most Taiwanese nor would current government debark on such a speculative move…(i.e. the US Might recognize Taiwan if China does not curb North Korea).
While I agree China should do more, I doubt they will. China fears a total collapse of North Korea more than a nuclear North Korea. To be honest, I am not sure China would even take strong actions if North Korea attacked South Korea, although I sure they don’t want a unified democratic Korea along their border.
I think the best policy is patience along with preparation. Prepare for the worst, and wait it out. North Korea is not a stable regime and eventually it will fail.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 05:49 PM
Comment #187278

Rocky,
Diplomacy did not turn work in 1935-1939. It only made the cost of going to war much higher.
I am not stating that appeasement is always a bad policy, but that I don’t see it working now. Any appeasement of North Korea is only going to give money to Dear Leader and his merry bunch of friends, while the rest of the population starves and Dear Leader continues his merry ways, such as developing nuclear and biological weapons. North Korea will not respect any treaty. That does not mean will need to invade it, but we certainly should prepare for the worst.
There are no good solutions here. Thinking that sending a check to Dear Leader will solve the problem is irresponsible and reckless.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 05:57 PM
Comment #187279

Thuycidides, your reply is empty. Tis you with the reading problem.

I said: “The S. Koreans want us out of S. Korea.”

Note the use of the plural. Meaning many, meaning more that what is implied when one refers to ONE government. You assumed this was a reference to the government.

In your reply: “You are absolutely wrong about the South Koreans wanting the US to leave South Korea.”

To which I replied with evidence to support my case and statements disproving your claim that my comment was wrong.

To which you replied with garbage without evidence to back up your case.

So, your reply deserves no more comment than this clarification for your understanding, though your comments don’t appear to seek understanding.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 05:58 PM
Comment #187280

North Korea is not a terribly stable regime, but most of the people of North Korea are so thorougly brain-washed.
They have been successfully brain-washed to think the U.S. is to blame for their starving, and other problems.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 9, 2006 06:01 PM
Comment #187282

NeoCon Pilsner said: “Let them know in no uncertain terms that if they want to continue their shady little game, the US is going to move towards full diplomatic recognition of an independent Taiwan and begin pushing for a UN seat for Taiwan.

This is China’s worst nightmare, and I think we should call their bluff.”

That is a clever scenario, but, it has one huge flaw. Your last sentence quoted above. That would be the United State’s worst nightmare. You see, China is holding 1 Trillion dollars in US currency, and holds a huge amount of our national debt paper. Were China to cash it in, our economy would take a hit. Were they to cut off exports, our economy would take a double hit.

Not a prospect the Republicans would look forward to happening between now and the 2008 elections.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 06:03 PM
Comment #187283

d.a.n, its worse than that. The N. Koreans run nuclear attack drills in preparation for the U.S.’s dropping nuclear bombs on their heads. That is a fact straight from someone who was there and talking on C-Span’s Washington Journal this, or yesterday morning.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 06:06 PM
Comment #187284

Thuycdides,

Diplomacy is NOT appeasement.

The right has so confused the meaning of these too words for so long, it is truly amazing.

Appeasement is putting your neck in the noose when you have nothing left to lose, and hoping nobody notices.

Diplomacy is true salesmanship, a rare commodity these days.
Diplomacy is selling ice cream to Eskimos.
Diplomacy is selling what you don’t want for an exorbitant price, something you would have given away for free.
Diplomacy is dealing with someone distasteful, while you hold a bat behind your back.
Diplomacy is also dealing from a position of power.

Please let’s not confuse these two words ever again.

Posted by: Rocky at October 9, 2006 06:12 PM
Comment #187289

David,
Are you that ignorant of economics that you believe China hold our huge amounts of our currency or having a huge trade imbalance with our country allows them to dictate to us?
First of all, should China choose to dump their holdings of currency it would in effect cut off their nose to spite their face. Selling of that much of an asset (most of them are mortgage back securities) would mean that China would take a huge loss on their portfolio. You just cannot decide to sell that huge a portfolio and not expect the price to react to it. Second of all, if China sells that much it would allow the Yuan to appreciate dramatically vs. the dollar, something that would make the UAW and other protections jump for joy! That would in effect cripple the sales of product made in China in the US by making them far more expensive. Again, since China is trying to develop their economy through a export strategy, why would they want to inflate their currency?
As for cutting of trade with us, see the second point.
Would the US economy take a hit? Yes, but nothing compared the financial impact it would have on China.
If you would like, I can suggest several economics texts to read. You might try
“Advanced Macroeconomics” by David Romer. I had the text while working on my Masters of Science in Economics.

Posted by: Thuycdides at October 9, 2006 06:37 PM
Comment #187292

Thuycdides, are you naieve enough to believe that China will allow itself to be pushed by the U.S. on the Taiwan issue. They have made their position incredibly and totally unambiguously clear.

And if you think their politburo would choose to lose face rather than dump American assets, I think you would be the one who is spouting ignorant comments, not I. For the politiburo, losing face is tantamount to opening the doors of another revolution.

Again, it would be wise to research before making claims that have no backing of expertise or research.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 06:43 PM
Comment #187293

David,
Please consult the following link:
http://www.washtimes.com/world/20040607-011216-8881r.htm

Please note the South Korean government reaction to the thought of further US troop drawn downs or redeployment away from the DMZ.

The following link is from the Seoul Times:
http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=611
Please note the reaction of the conservative party in South Korea..
Care to rethink your position that South Korea wants the US out?
I agreed that the younger population, one that has no memory of the Korean War, would want the US troops to leave. Then again, given the developments in NK over the weekend, that view might change to.

Posted by: Thucydides at October 9, 2006 06:44 PM
Comment #187295

I have met some Ph.D’s in economics who don’t know what time of day or night it is without a watch.

And yes, I took economics too. Philosophy of economics as well. And psychology and sociology and history. What you neglect, is that the politburo does not answer to its people. They will be fine whether the nation suffers or not.

But, my economics friend, their economy is growing at 8+ percent and that rate of growth is a real problem for them. They want to slow it down. Dumping American assets would have that effect. Put that in your Milton Freidman pipe and smoke it awhile.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 06:48 PM
Comment #187297

No, Thuycidides, I provided the links and quotes to back up my claim. You are talking government, I am talking the people. You haven’t figured that out yet? Sheesh! Might have helped if you had actually read my links and sources. Oh, well, you can lead a horse to water….

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 06:51 PM
Comment #187298

David,
Do you read what I write?
I stated that it would be foolish to think the US could leverage Taiwan in this issue. First of the Taiwan, would not agree to it! Why would they? Taiwan has yet to declare independence and surely would not do so only the backing that US MIGHT recognize Taiwan in an attempt to squeeze China.

Finally, please cite an academic study that suggests that China has the ability cripple the US economy by dumping their holdings in US assets . China will not do it, since it kills their economy. It will cause the Yuan to rise dramatically, something China does not want to have happen. Maybe you have heard about the fact that China has deliberately kept the Yuan at a certain level and has barely let it rise vs. the dollar despite US pressure to. Why would China all of a sudden do an about face?
I am sorry, but until you can use economic logic, your arguments about China dumping US based assets are foolish. Again, I suggest you read at the minimum a good book on economics. If the Romer text is not to your liking, I can suggest others.

Posted by: Thucydides at October 9, 2006 06:54 PM
Comment #187306

I like the comments on China here. It is really all up to them. I think they realize deep down how bad the Kim regime is, but they don’t want a flood of refugees crossing over into Manchuria.

Yes, the people in North Korea are thoroughly brainwashed, they blame the US for all. Did you see that 60 minutes on how they use, “The Diary of Anne Frank” in schools to teach the kids that the Americans are the Nazis and that you should not be weak like Anne? The funny thing was the teacher wispering into the ear of her students on what to say.

It would be interesting to push Taiwan here for independence should China do nothing, though I am sure the Taiwanese are wary of being used as pawns. It could definitely move China to do more. But, aren’t people saying that Taiwan would be wiser to wait until the Beijing Olympics in 2008 do delcare independence if they want it?

Posted by: Steve at October 9, 2006 07:34 PM
Comment #187308

David, China can’t just cash in their share of the debt. It doesn’t work that way.

They’d have to either hold onto the debt or find somebody to buy it from them. No buyers, then they’re stuck with it. Any damage to the world economy done by such a massive sell-off would hurt China far more than us—after all, they’re the ones getting the interest on all that debt. Thuycidides is correct that losing all the interest would devalue their currency more than it would have an effect on us. It would be a massively stupid move on China’s part.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 9, 2006 07:46 PM
Comment #187312

Also, on the subject of Taiwan:

I’m not saying that Bolton should stand on the floor of the UN tomorrow and call for full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. That isn’t what I mean by playing chess. It could be far more subtle.

Just have Condi Rice make a stopover in Taiwan in the next few days. Let her have her picture taken with their leaders. Have her say a few vague things about admiring the Taiwanese people, valuing their friendship, all the innocuous sounding diplomatic platitudes.

The Bush administration wouldn’t have to say anything about Taiwanese independence—not yet at least—to send a very clear message to China about their behavior and send them into a hissy.

They are extremely sensitive on the subject of Taiwan, and if they’re going to screw around with allowing a client state to develop nukes, we should turn the tables on them. And do so (for now) with a wink and a smile.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 9, 2006 08:00 PM
Comment #187338

I’ve been hearing on the radio all afternoon and evening that now they think that N. Korea didn’t really set off a nuke. Reckon maybe old Kim Jung is running a bluff?
Reckon maybe Iran’s doing the same?
Can the rest the world afford to call their bluffs?

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 9, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #187355

Neo Con Pilsner, our treasury cerftificates are like stocks, in that their price fluctuates with supply and demand. China currently has 332.7 Billion, or, 1/3 trillion in US treasuries. If they feel forced to unload over a period of say 3 to 6 months, the price will drop, and the rates will rise.

And like stocks, when major holders sell, many other holders look around asking why is the price falling, and should I be buying or selling as a result.

Now, depending on how large our national debt is then, 9, 10 trillion, and depending on how investors view the U.S.’s economic ability to continue GDP growth in lieu of higher interest rates choking capital formation and capital liquidity, the U.S. could easily find itself heading into recession. Remember, our GDP growth may drop as low as 2.5% in the coming 6 to 9 months.

A dumping of 1/3 Trillion of our treasuries in a 2.5% GDP environment, may easily have the effect of raising interest rates significantly and causing our GDP growth to drop to 1.5 or 1%. That in turn will make investors a bit more wary about the long term position of holding U.S. Treasuries.

Now, of course, this is not the whole picture. What one has to realize is that the U.S. Dollar is also exactly like a check you pay your utilities bill with. You send a check to your Utility, they in turn cash your check, and give you energy to keep the electricity on at your home. The U.S. dollar is also a check. In international terms, it is a check paid to foreign holders entitling them to demand real services and goods in return for the check. The U.S. dollar then, is a promissory note.

The value of our dollar depends in part, on the foreign holders of our dollars keeping them as a measure of value, in Oil for example. If the value of our dollar drops, we are forced to buy less oil per dollar. Historically, keeping a high value on our U.S. dollar made it appealing to foreigners to hold our dollars, and use them for trade since its high predictable value insured them more goods per dollar (oil or food imports, for example).

However, there is a disturbing trend taking place. Foreign holders of dollars are beginning to turn in their dollars for other currencies: Euro dollars are a prime example. This is crucial, because there is nothing backing up the value of the U.S. Dollar except but a promise and a printing press to print more of them. If foreign holders refuse our dollars (cash in their treasury bonds or convert from U.S. Dollars to Euros), the value of our dollar falls, and so does the amount of Oil for example we can buy per dollar.

Saddam Hussein shortly before the invasion dumped U.S. dollars for Euros. Iran announced it will trade oil in Euros, not dollars anymore. Russia and Venezuela have announced they may be converting to Euros or Rubles. Now, were China to send our 1 trillion U.S. dollars in foreign trade surpluses out to buy Middle Eastern oil, (which they are doing) and begin divesting themselves of 1/3 trillion in U.S. treasuries, in exchange for Euro treasuries, a number of negative things begin to happen to our economy.

First, our price for Oil shoots up, as China uses our own dollars to buy supply we are also competing for. (We just saw, and continue to see this happen.) Our dollars go to Chavez, and Middle Eastern and other OPEC nations, who in turn, send those dollars back to the U.S. to purchase arms, technology, and American corporation contract services like engineering and architectural services for growth in places like Dubai and India. Such places capital growth increases. But, our dollars are returning to the U.S. faster which means we don’t, can’t, print new money without devaluing our U.S. Dollar. But printing more money is precisely what we have to do in order to float our growing national debt and increasing service rate on that debt. This devaluation of our dollar,
will begin to stimulate inflation, which in turn will cause interest rates to rise higher, which in turn will slow our economic growth due to a shrinking borrowing capacity and slower capital formation.

This is already happening, but, we don’t see the effect so readily because of American corporations leaving America to establish their businesses overseas in tax friendlier countries, which in turn decreases U.S. government revenues, which in turn increases our national debt and deficits.

This is why our economy is becoming ever more sensitive to oil price spikes. We are having to pay for oil with diminishing value U.S. dollars, which threatens inflation. Bernanke and the Fed are nervous as hell about energy prices, and growingly more concerned about the boomer retirement and deficits and debt, precisely because of this future of diminishing U.S. dollar value, which increases our debt, our foreign trade deficits, and threatens growth of debt as a percentage of GDP as boomers retire.

It is a lot to digest, and I have outlined the process in more detail than I though I would. But, perhaps it will be eye opening for some who have hitherto, not quite grasped the relationship between our dollar’s value, our national and trade debts, and the looming debt crisis coming as a result of the boomer’s retirement years. It is not a pretty picture, and it has the experts scrambling for solutions and the politicians scrambling rosy rhetoric to hide the growing fundamental crisis in our economic system.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 10, 2006 06:17 AM
Comment #187356

NeoCon Pilsner, regarding your suggestion of Bolton and the Chinese and Taiwan, that may prove in the short term to give the Chinese pause, but, in the long run, the Chinese can afford to do whatever the hell they want. They are relieved that their runaway growth of 16% GDP just a few years ago, has been cut in half to 8%. But, 8% is still too high and the inflationary pressures caused by it are not sustainable if they want to keep civil unrest at bay. Hence, China is not going to fear divesting our U.S. dollars and treasuries if it has geopolitical advantage AND results in a slowing of their economic growth.

The thing Americans have to keep in mind about China is this, their fear is not the U.S., their greatest fear is another revolution. Tieneneman Square scared the bejezzus out of them, and they will spare no effort and avoid no consequence if it serves the goal of preventing another revolution. Very literally, the politiburo’s heads and family’s lives depend directly upon their preventing another revolution.

So, don’t think China is going to budge because the U.S. says to. China will budge only when it serves their purpose of placating their own population and stemming an ever present simmering dissidence within their population. One cannot forget that China’s middle age population was raised on the promise and benefits of revolution if one is to try to understand what moves China and her government.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 10, 2006 06:23 AM
Comment #187358

Thucydides, see my comments above to Pilsner as reply to your inquiry as to why I think China would divest itself of U.S. holdings in currencies and treasuries.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 10, 2006 06:35 AM
Comment #187376
Now, were China to send our 1 trillion U.S. dollars in foreign trade surpluses out to buy Middle Eastern oil, (which they are doing) and begin divesting themselves of 1/3 trillion in U.S. treasuries, in exchange for Euro treasuries, a number of negative things begin to happen to our economy.

That’s another reason why the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve will have no choice but to print even more money.
We have thoroughly and foolishly painted ourselves into a tiny corner. We have foolishly risked our own security and future with massive debt, borrowing, and money-printing. We have foolishly handed over partial control of our economy to foreign nations. This administration has very irresponsibly grown the debt, borrowing, and money-printing to all time highs. In 2002, M3 Money Supply increased by 917 billion! Only now, the Federal Reserve is voicing concerns? The Fed is complicit in creating this fragile house of cards. Anyone that doesn’t see the potential harm of this precarious situation created by massive, run-away spending, debt, borrowing, and money-printing is in denial. Do the math. The debt has NEVER EVERbeen worse.
It’s not just the $8.6 trillion National Debt (68% of GDP). Look at the $12.8 trillion Social Security Debt, $450 billion Pension Benefit Guaranty Debt, hundreds of billion$ of unfunded Medicare and Prescription Drug benefit liabilities, hundreds of billion$ of unfunded liabilities for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 77 million baby boomers that have paid into Social Security and Medicare all their life and demanding THEIR benefits.

Altogether, that’s over $22 trillion in federal debt!
To make matters worse, personal debt is over $20 trillion. Shrinking median incomes since 1999 has caused many to pull equity out of the homes, driving nation-wide debt even higher.

The fiscal situation is bad, and getting worse.

  • Total federal debt is 200% of GDP, which has NEVER been worse.

  • Nationwide debt of $42 trillion has NEVER been worse.

  • Trade deficits have NEVER been worse.

  • Social Security and Medicare has NEVER been in worse shape.

  • The SIZE of the government has NEVER been larger (and continues to grow to nightmare proporations; and politicians say they are for smaller government, but keep growing it ever larger?).

  • Dependency on the government has NEVER been worse.

  • Foreign competition has NEVER been higher (and becoming better educated too).

  • Public education is decreasing in quality and increasing in cost. Property taxes are rising to pay for it. The public education system is top-heavy with over-paid administrators instead of teachers, and public tax dollars are being funneled into private schools.

  • Foreclosures nation-wide have been rising for over a year.

  • Inflation is rising (and could get much worse with no choice but to print more money).

  • Energy vulnerabilities and poor planning by an Energy Department with a annual budget of $24 billion per year ($64 million per day; what good is the DOE ?).

  • We are killing ourselves by the hundreds of thousands per year. Not in automobile wrecks. Healthcare is not only increasingly unaffordable, but dangerous. In this era of corpocrisy and corpoartism, bought-and-paid-for politicians, pharmaceutical corporations, and the FDA are becoming little more than pill pushers that are killing hundreds of thousands in the U.S. annually. That does not even include the huge number of patients that are irreversibly damaged and maimed. JAMA reported that over 2.2 million hospitalized patients in 1994 had serious Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 were fatal, making these drug reactions the 5th or 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.! JAMA’s conclusion was that “the incidence of serious and fatal ADRs in U.S. hospitals was found to be extremely high”. On 27-July-2004, HealthGrades.com reported that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records”. Part of the problem is the growing corpocrisy, corporatism, and influence of government by corporations.

  • There are tens of thousands of cases of eminent domain abuse (legal plunder). More evidence of the growing corpocrisy, corporatism, and influence of government by corporations and those that abuse vast wealth and power.

  • Poverty is growing. All wealth belonging to 1% of the U.S. population has NEVER been higher since the Great Depression of 1929.

I’m incredulous when people say we are doing “OK”, “good”, “very good”, and the economy is buzzing, and “sure we have problems, but we will muck through somehow”.

I don’t think these people have really done the math. $22 trillion in federal debt, $20 trillion (or more) in personal debt (i.e. $42 trillion of nation-wide debt) is 4 times GDP. #22 trillion in federal debt is 2 times GDP. We can’t grow, immigrate, tax enough to cover that. But, watch. They will try to money-print their way out of it. They will have no other choice, due to the already massive debt, over $1 billion per day due in interest alone, limited growth of GDP, increasing foreign competition, and run-away-spending. Even if Congress had the discipline to stop the run-away-spending and borrowing now, it may be too late. Even if we stopped borrowing today, and started paying down all debt, it would probably over 200 years.

China is in a Catch-22. They are vulnerable too. The magnitude of the U.S. debt is making China nervous. Other nations too that have invested heavily in the U.S. National Debt. That is another reason they are looking to reduce their exposure to the falling U.S. dollar.

That’s not a pretty picture, but still … some try to paint a Rosy picture, say “we’ll muck through somehow”, “things are good”, “very good”, and “within historical norms”, and anyone who disagrees is an “alarmist”, “chicken-little”, and “dooms-dayish”. I think the problem here is math. Americans don’t seem to be able to grasp the magnitude of the debt. In 1999, some thought there were surpluses (i.e. thought the National Debt had been eliminated). Even then, National Debt was still 58% of $9.8 trillion GDP.

The big question is where will the money come from to pay for all the $22 trillion in federal debt? On average, that’s $73K per person.

Where will the money come from to pay for the $20 trillion in personal debt? On average, that’s $67K per person.

Together, on average, that’s $140K per person.

And China (and other foreign nations) reducing exposure to the U.S. dollar, slowing borrowing, and converting to Euros is NOT going to allow the massive borrowing to continue.

So, where will the money come from?
It will come from thin air. The printing presses are already running non-stop at the Federal Reserve. Get ready for more inflation (or worse).

And who do we have to thank for all of this? Congress, who WE keep re-electing.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 10, 2006 10:34 AM
Comment #187377

Bottom lines:

- US dollars weapon is less powerfull than it used to be in the past.
- NPT is dead, weapons race hype again, thanks to this wonderfull pre-emptive doctrine.
- Even the #1 superpower is not that all powerfull afterall.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 10, 2006 10:46 AM
Comment #187379

d.a.n.,

Your post remember me I yet have to check the EU’s debt ammount…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at October 10, 2006 10:50 AM
Comment #187383

The EU has debt too, but that’s still better than putting all your eggs in one basket. China (and other nation’s) are (justifiably) getting nervous. They too, have irresponsibily gotten themselves into this Catch-22.

I think N.Korea is being over-hyped.
Likewise with Iran.
Just like it was done with Iraq.

Unfortunately, this administration blew it with Iraq, and will now find it harder than ever to get support to do anything about N.Korea or Iran. Military action against N.Korea or Iran would be a huge mistake, as it was with Iraq. But, we’re not too bright. We like to revisit these same mistakes over and over.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 10, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #187908

I really think that Asia can take care of this problem. North Korea is kind of like the younger sibling who wants all the attention form the older sibling. They will do anything to get the attention and affection of the parent. If the U.S. ignores for a little bit, North Korea will get annoyed and do something more drastic and possibly dangerous. It might risk some lives but it will then give the entire world the right perspective on that Kim Jong Il needs to be delt with properly. It just won’t be a U.S. mandated war.

Posted by: Brad Murphy at October 13, 2006 02:07 AM
Comment #187922

Brad Murphy, I tend to agree with you. I do think however, that the U.S. should be engaged with the regional nations on methods and strategies to ensure that NK does not attempt to export its technology to the highest bidders. We have vested interest in that regard.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 13, 2006 07:26 AM
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