Thursday, March 06, 2003

Taking an offhand look at USS Clueless, I ran across this analysis of Dubya's deep strategy regarding North Korea. (He always has a deep strategy concerning these foreign policy conundrums, which is frequently opaque to experienced diplomats, but invariably transparent to retired cell phone engineers). Here it is, in brief:

Kim is trying to provoke a crisis for us because he's facing one of his own. With the cutoff of oil shipments [for free from the US, as part of the broken nuke cessation deal], and as a result of other factors, he's looking at a situation where his nation may collapse completely. They do not have the ability now to generate enough power to keep even a minimal modern state running. For instance, their railroads are electric; without electric power generation, most of their internal transport will shut down. A railroad system is to a nation what the blood system is to a person; shut it down, and everything else dies.

And, as a result of this impending crisis, Dubya can just sit tight and wait for Kim's money to run out.

Of course, North Korea has some options for generating funds to pay for oil which Den Beste neglects to mention -- if Kim can hang on a few more months, for instance, while Dubya is preoccupied with other matters, he gets to go into the highly lucrative nuclear weapons export market.

By the way, Den Beste's 2500 word analysis of North Korea's financial, diplomatic and economic situation mentions China, the DPRK's largest trading partner, exactly once -- as a destination for refugees who fear the minefields in the DMZ. That relationship kind of matters to his argument, since the free crude oil, fertilizer, and food from the Chinese are still coming, and the Chinese have expressed an extreme reluctance to join any sanctions regime which would cut them off...

Den Beste has now added an odd postscript, perhaps intended as a response to someone else, in which he notes that the DPRK can't be selling nukes now. Which no one disputes; the most alarmist estimates are that they right now have only one or two, which they'd want to retain themselves for deterrence. Sales do become an issue a bit down the road, when their plutonium plant is turning out weapons grade material once again. The only way that resource shortages, of fuel or anything else, will prevent that from happening is if China cuts the cord -- which is unlikely; that would precipitate exactly the collapse Den Beste wants, and the Chinese seem to regard nukes as the lesser danger. And his postscript still doesn't acknowledge that they're getting oil from China in the first place.

He also suggests that if waiting it out won't take care of the problem, a few cruise missiles lobbed at Yongbyon will. Which is surely the case, so long as you don't mind retaliation with whatever weapons the North already has, the annihilation of Seoul, and a second Korean war...


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