The kabuki dance of diplomacy

I laughed out loud when I read this headline and accompanying article from the New York Times:  “Gates Issues Warning to North Korea“.

SINGAPORE — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned North Korea on Saturday that the United States would not accept it as a nuclear weapons state, as Asian security officials struggled to find a new way to deal with the isolated Communist nation.

“We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in Asia — or on us,” Mr. Gates told a major defense conference here that has been dominated by North Korea’s test this week of a nuclear device and the firing of at least six short-range missiles, all in defiance of international sanctions.

Mr. Gates said that he did not consider North Korea’s nuclear program “a direct military threat” to the United States, but added that its progress “is a harbinger of a dark future.” One of the chief concerns among United States officials is that North Korea will sell its nuclear technology.

— Elisabeth Bumiller.  “Gates Issues Warning to North Korea“,
New York Times, May 30th, 2009.

Since North Korea is starving and bankrupt, it’s a certainty (not mere concern) that the DPRK will end up selling off its nuclear and ballistic missile technologies.  And as the article mentions, there is no firm plan on how to deal with North Korea if it fails to heed the SecDef’s warning.

But Mr. Gates already gave away the truth on Friday: the United States is not going to adjust its USFK defense posture in the face of North Korea’s ever more blatant provocations.

What we’re left with, in essence, is sanctions and bitching.  Which is what caused me to laugh.  We already know how well those tactics have been working out against North Korea.  The DPRK threatens to develop/release nuke technology unless we funnel more money at them and reduce sanctions.  We hesitate; they provoke.  We back down and shovel money at them, and they keep developing nukes so that there will be a better bargaining chip for next time.

The outcome should be obvious to any parent.  What happens when you threaten an unruly child with an undefined punishment that you’re not actually willing to deliver?

So what Gates is really threatening to do are two things.  Jack and sh*t.  And Jack just left town.

Category: Foreign Affairs  Tags:
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.