Saturday, July 22, 2006

North Korea's Declaration of Independence

William S. Cohen, the former Secretary of Defense, has a few things to say about North Korea's declaration of independence.

Commentary: North Korea's declaration of independence
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On July 4, North Korea fired off six missiles, followed two days later by a seventh. Kim Jong Il, North Korea's repressive leader, was not celebrating America's independence holiday, but declaring his own independence from world opinion, while secretly craving American attention.

The international community responded quickly and with near unanimity, condemning North Korea's actions as dangerous and provocative.

The UN Security Council resolution, passed unanimously on Saturday after an 11-day impasse, showed solidarity among nations in demanding that North Korea return to the bargaining table rather than their missile launching pads. That North Korea promptly rejected this resolution demonstrated what we must be careful to avoid: that tough words followed by little action will likely produce North Korea's further contempt for those alarmed by its actions [I think that that is exactly what is going to happen. - ed.]. The international community must follow through on enforcing the sanctions called for in the resolution, and resort to stronger action in the Security Council if these measures are not enough.

Some now suggest that since the six-party talks have failed to bring about a successful negotiation to the persistent crisis generated by North Korea, the only alternative is for the United States to agree to engage in direct bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans. Why, it is asked, should we hold on to form and pass on the opportunity to participate in direct diplomacy?

The answer is that more than the size and shape of a conference table is involved. A willingness on the part of U.S. officials to meet with North Koreans in the context of the six-party talks should be encouraged. Initiating direct bilateral negotiations in response to provocative missile launches would be a mistake, as it would reward provocation and enable the North Koreans to blame the United States if the negotiations continue to end in an impasse.
Why is that so hard for liberals to understand? Give Kim what he wants and it will validate his behavior as successful.

His behavior is wrong on many levels. Besides the wholesale murder and starvation of his population, there is now the impetus for his neighbors to be more active in defending themselves.
Japan's desire to develop the means to actively defend itself in response to threats such as North Korea's provocations is real, growing and perfectly understandable. Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga last week reiterated Japanese policy that it has the legal right, even under its pacifist constitution written by the United States after World War II, to strike hostile missiles that are being prepared to launch against Japan, adding that Japan should debate what military capabilities it should possess for such missions. The number two official in Japan's government, Shinzo Abe, who seeks to replace Prime Minister [Junichiro] Koizumi this fall, endorsed these views.
Kim Jong Il needs to beware the law of unintended consequences.

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