2003 January 04 Saturday
United States Lacks Good Options On North Korea

Consider some approaches that the United States could adopt to deal with North Korea's WMD development programs and willingness to export WMD technologies.

  • Diplomacy with bribery.
  • Diplomacy with threats.
  • Economic pressures.
  • Military operation against WMD development and storage facilities.
  • Military operation to hurt the North Korean regime economically and militarily but short of overthrow.

Some of these approaches are not mutually exclusive and they can be considered for

The first option of "Diplomacy with bribery" was pursued by the Clinton Administration beginning in 1994 when with Jimmy Carter's help the Clinton Administration negotiated an accord whereby the North Korean regime (Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK hereafter) Even at this late date there are still prominent foreign policy hands arguing for the "diplomacy with bribery" approach to handling the DPRK. Former Clinton Administration lead negotiator to DPRK Robert Einhorn still favors negotiation.

"It's also a gamble that our relationship with our South Korean ally can survive a lengthy period of isolating and pressuring North Korea," Mr. Einhorn said. "Engaging North Korea has its downsides, but those must be weighed against the risks of not engaging."

The United States is unwilling to put enough economic pressure on North Korea to cause a famine. However, even if the US and its allies were willing to do so the previous famine was not enough to bring down the regime.

"My family began selling everything, from the sewing machine to blankets, to trade for a sack of corn," said Lim Hong-keun, 42, a North Korean coal-miner who defected to South Korea (news - web sites) in 2000, describing the situation in the late 1990s. The famine sent tens of thousands of people wandering in search of food, often across the border into China, North Korea's last remaining ideological ally. "Trains often sat idle for two or three days in each station, waiting for electricity," Lim said at a recent lecture to South Korean college students. At the height of the famine in 1997-98, soldiers went around collecting coffins, said Lee Mi-young, a North Korean who also defected to South Korea in 2000.

Famine-related deaths in North Korea from 1995 to 2000 most likely numbered between 600,000 and 1 million, according to a new study by two researchers at the International Center of the U.S. Census Bureau. The study, by Daniel Goodkind and Loraine West, appears in the June issue of Population and Development Review, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Population Council. Acknowledging that "the actual demographic toll of the famine remains uncertain owing to a lack of reliable data," Goodkind and West use demographic models to show how two direct sources of information on mortality—-the figures released by the North Korean government and recent surveys of famine refugees—-produce estimates ranging from 200,000 to 3 million deaths. By analyzing indirect evidence, including China's mortality experience during its Great Leap Forward and recent surveys of child malnutrition in North Korea, the authors are able to narrow the probable range of mortality to between 600,000 and 1 million.

A 2001 report paints a still very bleak picture for North Korea.

A German doctor who had traveled widely in the impoverished communist country described the bleak conditions facing the nation Tuesday. Norbet Vollertsen, expelled by Pyongyang in December after taking Western journalists on unauthorized tours of the North Korean countryside, said that hospitals lacked basic facilities, leaving patients vulnerable to poor hygiene and extreme temperatures. "They have no running water. No electricity…They do not have any medicine, no bandage material, no drugs, no nothing," he told reporters in Tokyo. "Some of the children are in such bad condition, they've no emotional reaction anymore. They can't even scream."

"We expect to continue providing the same level of aid to the [United Nations] World Food Program in Korea as we have in the past," a senior administration official said in reply to questions from Reuters news agency. "We don't use food as a political weapon."

Senior Bush administration officials also say that they would be giving in to blackmail by offering new incentives and that North Korea's clandestine efforts to produce highly enriched uranium demonstrate that the Clinton negotiating approach does not work. But skeptics say the policy of relying on allies will not work, in part because they are not prepared to use their full leverage to press for and possibly encourage the collapse of North Korea, an event that they fear would sow chaos in their region. China, American officials acknowledge, has not pressed the North Koreans as hard as Washington would like and is unlikely to support economic sanctions. South Korea's new president, for his part, has come to office on a platform that called for increased interaction with North Korea, not the increased its isolation.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 January 04 04:36 PM  Axis Of Evil


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