Friday, February 11, 2005

N. Korean Problem and Bush Administration

After public declaration of having nuclear weapons and not wanting to continue 6 party talks, it is logical to think what should happen and what will happen. Let us go with the simple part first – what should happen.
1) USA starts to talk with N. Korea on bilateral basis.
2) USA realizes that NPT and similar anti-proliferation ideas are no longer working and relevant. Countries around the world will not accept the monopoly of few nations on Nuclear Weapons. Any structure based on preserving this monopoly is doom to fail. Moreover, USA realizes that any attempt to resurrect such framework is going to be with diminishing success. Just look at how Indians ignored NPT and eventually were able to avoid ever signing the treaty. As overall USA power declines in the world, any ability to force this orthodoxy down the throat of other nations will wither away. Any such attempts are waste of American political capital and even may start damaging it’s global interests. Democrats, traditional American Liberals especially, need to understand this; given their propensity to try traditional anti proliferation measures always.
3) Long term USA needs to focus more on a global structure where there are multiple nuclear powers. It can be a successive treaty to NPT so the current signatories are carried as they are. The focus should be on building and establishing a new inspection regime which prevents nuclear weapons landing in the hands of rouge trans-national entities.
4) USA also needs to give up the duplicitous behavior of ignoring nuclear dangers of Pakistan and letting Israel free. Days of bullying other nations are over. True changes will come only on the basis of American credibility. Duplicitous behavior is anathema for the credibility.
5) The administration also needs to de-link the talk of Democracy, both at policy level and public posture level, from the security to be obtained by containing the spread of nuclear weapons. Don’t get tangled with Democracy in N. Korea when the focus is to prevent it’s nuclear weapons going in the wrong hands. America’s elected politicians owe to the American Public that they are not so inapt in inviting the danger by mixing these two things.

But one can understand what will actually happen:
1) Bush Administration, despite the need to change it’s policy of 6 party talks will stick to it’s hard line policy.
2) Meanwhile it will escalate the issue of Iranian Nuclear Weapons and bury the Korean problem.
3) As it winds down the engagement in Iraq; it may threaten a war with Iran. It will take that problem to Security Council and will try to repeat what it did for Iraq. In the rhetoric of war against Iran, the Korean problem will be on the back burner.
4) China and S. Korea will not mind Nuclear N. Korea in their backyard (nuclear India and Pakistan as a model?). How so ever hard Bush Administration shouts that Nuclear N. Korea is a problem to neighbors, these countries will live happily with Nuclear N. Korea and in a way be happy to watch how it becomes a thorn for the American overbearing attitude.
All in all Bush Administration will not initiate and conduct a serious discussion with Congress to radically change the framework of Nuclear Proliferation so as to move away from the current rigid approach as well as get away from the box in which it finds itself. It is almost certain that in the end Bush Administration would have committed the immoral and dishonest task of risking the security of American people for it’s hubris in regards to the Korean Peninsula problem. There is very dim chance that we can see any realistic improvement on this problem unless until a new administration comes. It just does not unfold in any other way when you have politicians who do not want to change non-working policies and who base their entire political standing on such inflexibility. Let us wait for next 4 years and pray that Kim Jong II does not get a kick to play with lives of American people.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
February 11, 2005.

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