Former United States ambassador to South Korea, Christopher Hill, and Christine Hong, Assistant Professor at UC- Santa Cruz and Executive Board Member of the Korea Policy Institute (KPI) had a tête-à-tête at HuffPost Live (via UN Dispatch). The issue was the long view, both historically and geopolitically on China (Hong) versus recent North Korean provocations and the parts of the diplomatic history when Amb. Hill can speak with authority. Hill provided very little that he hasn’t said before. I’m glad Heather Hurlburt set the record straight about just how pathetic North Korea’s missile and nuke capabilities are, exposing how threadbare its bluster is. And, Mark Goldberg makes a case for humanitarian aid regardless of the diplomatic situation.
North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations couldn’t make international law sound provocative.
“Nuclear weapons are possessed by only a very small number of countries, while conventional weapons are of a very sensitive character, with a direct bearing on all countries’ security,” Ri [Dong-il] said. He went on to say, “the importance of forming a treaty to completely eliminate nuclear weapons” should be reflected in the conventional weapons treaty. Ri also said it was “easily predictable” that “the continued preemptive nuclear strike policies of the biggest nuclear nation [the US] will lead in the end to more countries possessing nuclear weapons.” He also made reference to the US missile defense system, which he said, “hints at ambitions of absolute nuclear supremacy” and “possesses the risk of setting off a potential nuclear arms race.”
And, what was wrong with the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty? Can North Korea be trusted with any treaty?
Props to Christine Hong for taking on the ‘pivot’.
As part of its “pivot” to secure key trade routes and economic advantage in the vast region, the United States has already begun to revive a network of old bases, including Australia’s Darwin base, Philippine’s Subic Bay, Vietnam’s Can Ranh Bay, and Thailand’s U-Tapao naval and air base, as well as tightening its ties with traditional allies, including South Korea and a remilitarizing Japan. In 2012, the United States and Japan announced a major agreement to deploy a second advanced missile defense radar system in Japan, and for the first time, Japan’s Self Defense Forces and the U.S. Navy carried out combined landing and island defense exercises in Guam. In Korea, although the United States disavows any interest in a controversial naval base currently under construction in Jeju, critics point out that the base is designed to accommodate Aegis destroyers that will likely become part of an integrated missile defense system under U.S. command. A June 2012 Chosun Ilbo article reported that U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) Commander James Thurman suggested maintaining the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command even after transferring operational control to South Korea in 2015, thereby ensuring South Korea’s status as a permanent U.S. garrison.
As the United States looks to Asia as its most valuable sphere of influence, North Korea serves as a convenient enemy, justifying a ratcheted-up, regional U.S. military presence. But it also represents a policy quagmire. Not only has North Korea remained in the “cold” since the Soviet bloc collapsed, but it now also possesses two means of producing nuclear weapons and possibly long-range missile delivery technology. Under Obama, the United States has dealt with other quagmires in the Middle East by toppling uncooperative regimes by force. North Korea, long the subject of regime-change fantasies, has little reason to believe that it is not in U.S. crosshairs.
Bruce Cumings? …please. Still?