October 11, 2006
The Dusk of North Korea's SunshineBy Marc Sheppard
When North Korea's foreign ministry declared its intention to conduct a nuclear warhead test last week, the U.S response was clear — do so at the expense of your country's future. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, chief U.S. envoy to North Korea and our lead negotiator at the six—nation talks to nowhere, warned that the rogue nation had a simple choice.
Lest there be any misunderstanding of his words, Hill elaborated,
According to recent seismic measurements, the waiting is apparently over. Monday morning, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il tested the resolve of the Bush Administration when his nation became the 9th member of the decreasingly exclusive nuclear club. The Russian reported 5 to 15 Kiloton initiation fee immediately drew the attention of existing, non, and potential members alike. And rightly so — the club's mightiest constituent had thrown down the gauntlet only to have its warning summarily ignored.
The Bombast After the Bomb Blast
The news was immediately met with unanimous worldwide admonition. Even Pyongyang's closest and, perhaps, only allies in Beijing denounced the action. They called it a "flagrant and brazen" violation of international opinion. Just to make it official, the U.N Security Council began working on a formal resolution of condemnation. There was brisk talk of Article 7 sanctions, blockades and supply—chain interruptions.
But the world was actually waiting for its only superpower to respond to the transgression. Just what would the U.S do when actions were taken it had so brazenly stated it was not going to accept? Surely the White House was aware that its reaction would be measured by both friend and foe alike. Such should have necessitated a response which was both shocking and awesome.
A red—faced President Bush stepped right up to address the line Secretary Hill had drawn in the sand. But, as he spoke, the line slowly faded until it was gone altogether. After retreating a few steps, he bent over to draw a new one.
So then, Hill must have misunderstood the administration's doctrine. It wasn't the 'having' of nuclear weapons which would not be tolerated, but, rather their 'transfer.'
The Retractable Line in the Sand
This lack of both clarity and resolve opened the door to dangerously mistimed partisan sniping. Senators Dodd, Kennedy, and Schumer each found their own pedantic manner of insisting that the time had come to enter into direct talks with Pyongyang. Senate minority leader Harry Reid got to use the latest Woodward—model liberal catch—phrase, 'state of denial,' in describing the Bush Administration's approach to North Korea. He added that they were
Very productive, Harry — thanks. But all of this posturing was as too little as it was too late.
The U.N gathering was nothing more than window dressing. China had previously made clear its objections to sanctions which might cause the NK regime to implode under economic duress. Such a calamity would likely result in a humanitarian crisis. This would force untold numbers of Koreans to seek refuge in China. Furthermore, the dangers of a resulting nuclear—armed yet doomed draconian government are certainly quite evident. All things considered, it's doubtful that economic retribution would survive Security Council veto.
As to the premature peace talks proposed by the military experts in the Senate —— the administration had adopted a policy which denied bilateral discourse to any country as reward for its bad behavior. Right or wrong, to change that strategy as a response to brinkmanship would be a calamitous and irreversible mistake. To even suggest otherwise might send the wrong message to the wrong people at the wrong time.
But it was too late! Emboldened by the President's strategic retreat and the appeasing words of the clueless Senators, the mad little dictator fired back with an ultimatum of his own. On Tuesday, an unnamed North Korean official warned that his government might fire a nuclear—tipped missile unless the U.S. resolved its impasse with Pyongyang. And so it did.
A Clear and Present Danger
Whether or not the communist country actually possesses the technology and wherewithal to carry out its threat is an issue for intelligence agents and physicists to argue. This much we do know:
The imperative here is clear as glass: The enforcement of Secretary Hill's words is no less crucial today than it was last week.
There's been some debate about both the yield and the chemistry of Kim's underground exhibition. It may well have been a dud. What's beyond argument is that the administration's steadfast commitment to strength, so vital to its Mideast policy, appears to elude it in matters north of the 38th parallel. Indeed, backing down from an ultimatum is tantamount to retreat. It waves a banner of weakness to the enemy which the enemy will, invariably, exploit. The frantic nuclear threats leveled on Tuesday should put any doubt of this truth forever to rest.
If we flagrantly disregard the words 'we are not going to accept it', we stand to forfeit our ability to coerce this and future adversaries through intimidation. Such would amount to the loss of a valuable weapon in the battle for national survival. A loss we dare not allow, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad observes carefully from the on—deck circle.
The great ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun tzu, wrote these fitting words in his manuscript, 'The Art of War' over 2,500 years ago.
South Korea's 'Sunshine' policy of 'extending some profit' to its northern neighbor is now steeped in twilight. It is due time for the world's only remaining superpower to 'show them the potential for harm,' with or without our 'allies' watching our backs.
Time is short. The darkness is quickly approaching.
Marc Sheppard is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.