week the North Koreans and the "coalition" have agreed
to talk more and to talk soon. The negotiations had a high note
when the DPRK and US reps chewed
the fat for a bit in the corner while (assumingly) the other
five other delegations pretended not to notice. There wasn't a lot
of complaining and/or saber rattling from the two antagonists.
It became clear, however, that the behavior of the US, not the DPRK,
is the focus of the talks. The South
Koreans, Russians and the Chinese
released public statements admonishing the US for being too aggressive
and for focusing on near term "regime change." The US
is now expected to give a little and discuss a non-aggression pact
(as Russia did) after multi-party talks were determined to be the
Bolton's speech on the DPRK and its leader resembles the comments
we hear coming out of North Korea every now and then when someone doesn't
show enough respect. But in a confrontation such as this one, the
Big Man taking on the local gun-enthusiast/zealot, what the US does
and says is scrutinized much more than the predictably crazy and
extreme reactions of the DPRK.
is decidedly un-American to insist on multi-party talks for conflict
resolution. China holds de facto control of the environment and
overall atmosphere of the talks as host and closest "friend"
of the DPRK – the US has historically acted unilaterally and the
frequent spats with the UN over missions and projects around the
if the US had sat down face to face, that would have been giving
North Korea too many opportunities to embarrass and rattle the Americans,
eventually forcing a rash decision and an ultimate "martyr
victory" for the North Koreans.
talks over time focusing on disarmament and non-aggression is the
best possible scenario.
North Koreans gain respect and are acknowledged by five major nations.
The DPRK also holds the ace of spades in its not fully understood
but definitely cataclysmic nuclear arsenal. The presence of China,
Russia and South Korea could mute American frustration and anger and
squeeze out a disarmament/non-aggression pact: exactly what the
North Koreans have been demanding the whole time.
US gets off the hook. With more fires popping up and more lights
going out all the time, the US has been fishing around for volunteers.
They need foreign investors and UN
bureaucracy to help run Iraq and tame Afghanistan; Kurds
to fight the Arabs and Turks
to control the Kurds; Pakistanis to chase bin-Laden and Indians
to check the Pakistanis etc.
China holding everybody's hand and the other four to provide the
framework – the US can focus more on what is most important: the
dismantling of North Korea's nukes. When the world pushed North
Korea onto the stage, regime change began. North Koreans can remain
unfathomably broke for only so much longer, now that the DPRK leadership
has played all but its last card.
is involved, and these days that's a good thing for a nation that
is being perceived by the world as having "failed" the
transition from Cold War juggernaut to sleek powerhouse. Having
said that, Russia still demands (and receives) respect as a major
power with considerable influence over the many unstable nations
that spun out of the old USSR and the end of the Cold War.
South Korea has voiced its concern in the past over a lack of game time.
The fact is South Korea is useful as an interpreter of North Korean words
and actions and an insight into their thoughts. South Korea's role
is to advise the actors, not be one. As long as war is averted,
who cares? And the fact that everybody has sat down for the first
time is a good sign – now South Korea can actually participate, as
advice is useless if there is nothing to act upon or discuss.
too, is just happy to be there to ensure that if the North Koreans
launch a missile, the Japanese will be of the first to know. The
Japanese have been sticking to an American-like line of full, verifiable
disarmament as a prior condition to any US concessions, economic
should be pleased as well. The talks are led and hosted by China
– the talks would not have been able to take place without Chinese
pressure on the North Koreans to agree to multi-party talks soon and
to stop talking so much trash.
is the first big delicate diplomatic situation that China has dealt
with as an interested facilitator and not as an antagonist as a
player and not a pawn. Success might also bring a special kind of
"international immunity" that could be so useful in staving
off challenges to China's rather corrupt economic engine from ailing
1st World manufacturers.
negotiations are decidedly Asian and this benefits China as well.
The longer the talks go on, the more prospect for success and the
more the world sees how Asians (specifically Chinese as facilitators)
get the job done. Again, success means driving a substantial wedge
between the US and the Far East with China taking up the slack in
influence and prestige.
far as I am concerned, this should be listed in the US pro column
also means that a new Asian tiger may emerge, if the model that
succeeded for South Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore etc. works in
North Korea. A whole nation of starving, isolated people, if the rumors
be true: what a gold mine for all the big companies out there.
peaceful resolution removes North Korea's blanket of fear from the
people's heads and puts into question the need for ridiculous amounts
of weapons and soldiers per capita. Kim Jong Il's regime is in its
death throes – he should study Deng Xiao Ping. The world may find
that North Korean women want to look beautiful, North Korean men
like fast cars and nice shoes and the kids love basketball, video
games, cell phones and MTV just as much as we did back in the day.
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is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared
in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily,
and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column (usually) appears
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