We Desperately Need A North Korea Policy

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 23, 2010


The North Koreans are building up nuclear weapons, contributing to general instability in Asia, and now–as though any of us actually needed to be told this–we are informed that Kim Jong-Il was likely the person who gave the order to sink a South Korean warship recently. Meanwhile, we haven’t the slightest clue how to offer a cogent and consistent response.

The use of the word “we” in this post, of course, is meant to refer to “the international community at large.” It isn’t just the United States that has a problem in dealing with North Korea, the rest of the planet is just as puzzled. Dealing with the North Koreans is not made easier by the fact that the Chinese appear to be bound and determined to do anything and everything possible in order to cover up for, and protect the North Koreans. The rationale behind this policy is simple; the Chinese want to create trouble for various segments of the international community–especially the United States and its allies–in order to distract competitors while China pursues its own interests. In the long term, I cannot see how the Chinese benefit by having a rogue state operate in Asia without any semblance of control–the North Koreans can easily turn on the Chinese, after all–but in the short run, this doesn’t help in our efforts to craft and implement a workable response to North Korea’s actions.

I suppose it is worth noting that here in the United States, we were promised a foreign policy that would allow us to make more friends, and persuade other countries to act in our interests, even when, presumably, their interests collide with ours. When is that supposed to happen?

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