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Bolton Vs. Bandow On North Korea

18 Apr

Beyond Barbed WireI thought this would be a battle of extremists. This polite exchange between former United States amabassador to the United nations, John Bolton, and Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, on Fox reveals how the conservative end of the American political establishment has moved beyond intervention.

Knock me over, but Bolton isn’t spitting blood and backing intervention with every fiber of his soul. Bolton is emphasizing security no matter the cost. Bandow is essentially making checkbook arguments (via The Marmot’s Hole).

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Who’s Being Unreasonable?

18 Apr

SK ChaebolThe key to Pyongyang’s “insanity” could be the necessity to anchor itself to a single principle.

But put away the swords and the blinders for the moment and go back to the basics:  The first axiom of politics is a leader’s (or collective leadership’s) determination to remain in power.  That’s lesson one, political science 101.   In Pyongyang, the transfer of power is dynastic.  The country may call itself socialist, workers or communist but in reality it is governed through an age old form of familial leadership based on an historic Asian dynastic model. Moreover, over the years, the North Korean dynasty has been propped up by the country’s military with China’s acquiesce and sometimes more.

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If North Korean leaders were to relinquish the nuclear weapons option and ratchet down their bombastic rhetoric, then what would be left to keep them in power?  In essence, those particular cats’ paws would become clawless and the cat’s jaws fangless.

Lest we not forget, the South is an economic powerhouse much like the Federal Republic of Germany in 1989 and the North is far poorer than East Germany was.  Lest we also not forget, South Korea’s economy is far from fragile and neither is Japan’s.

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Washington Needs To Distance Itself From Seoul

18 Apr

John Kerry, Yun Byung-se in SeoulIt’s not just that South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is a strategic liability – it’s also a sinkhole where prudence goes to drown. The United States needs to stop parroting South Korean goals.

“The real goal should not be reinforcing the fact that we will defend our allies, which we will, but it should be emphasizing for everybody the possibilities of peace, the possibilities of reunification, the possibilities of a very different future for the people of the Republic of Korea and ultimately North Korea,” Kerry said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

I just don’t understand why the United States bows to South Korea’s insistence on unification, when such a confrontational policy is irrelevant to more comprehensive goals of American strategy and to American security.

The reason we must be so circumspect is that Kim Jong-un has us over a barrel. It is common knowledge that he can flatten Seoul and may well be able to overrun South Korea. If he proceeds, Washington will be left with very few and very tough options: either using nuclear arms or engaging in a large-scale conventional war, drawing on our worn-out army in a faraway country—all this just as our economy requires retrenching.

The United States finds itself so cornered because of an overly ambitious foreign policy and the absence of clear priority setting. Washington keeps investing in forcing regime changes and promoting democratic governments across the globe—at huge human and economic costs, with very meager results—as is all too evident in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Instead, promoting security should be the first order of business, and preventing the spread of nuclear arms must top these concerns.

What does this all have to do with North Korea?

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