North Korea Nuke Test Threat Connected to Ban Ki Moon

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ban ki moon.jpg
North Korea has announced that it will conduct a nuclear test, and few doubt its resolve to do so.
To some degree, the escalating temper-tantrum that North Korea is engaged in has to do with its irritation that the United States is not talking to the failed communist state. Kim Jong Il and his government seem willing to ratchet up the threat of regional conflict if it doesn’t get America back across the table.
But this nuclear brinksmanship is also about Ban Ki Moon, South Korea’s former Foreign Minister, who is on the verge of ascending to the Secretary Generalship of the United Nations.
Ban Ki Moon’s likely appointment as Kofi Annan’s successor will represent the most serious legitimacy crisis for the North Korean leadership — perhaps since the ascension of Kim Il Sung’s son to the premiership, and perhaps even greater than that transition.
For a senior member of the South Korean diplomatic elite to be “elected” to a position that really does help run the world, many average North Korean citizens (i.e., victims of their own thug-ridden government) will feel pride in Ban Ki Moon.
In addition, Moon will have to wrestle with North Korean nuclear misbehavior in his UN role — and the reality of collision between the UN and North Korea is very high.
America should be talking to North Korea and trying to assemble a strategic game plan that provides the North Korea leadership a way to back out of its current lunacy. Frankly, we should be doing all we can to embrace the North Korean people with economic opportunity and the chance to improve their lives. We should be helping to fragment the North Korean governing elite by making some rich and others jealous.
But just waiting for a cataclysmic collapse or sitting by while all sides prepare for armed conflict in Northeast Asia would be disastrous for the U.S.
We need to talk with North Korea — and then we need to plot a strategy that really undermines the internal and external legitimacy of Kim Jong Il. Right now, we seem to be doing the things that add to his power and control of the state.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

6 comments on “North Korea Nuke Test Threat Connected to Ban Ki Moon

  1. TokyoTom says:

    Steve, you make alot of sense, from the point of view our our national interests – yes, we could eliminate the risks posed by an isoltaed North Korea by gradually integrating them into the world community, so that their leaders have more to lose than to gain from disruptive behavior.
    But you simply display an overall naivete. When it comes to perceived threats, when has sense dictated our policies, other than our leaders’ sense of their own political self-interests? What have we achieved by a long embargo of Cuba or our hard stance against Iran?
    We need our enemies, surely as Israeli hardliners need Hizballah and Hamas, so our politicians can posture about protecting us, and so our military machine and associated industry can justify their bloated existence.
    It has been one mission of the GWB administration to actually foster war and conflict, to make it easier for them to divert our attention and gather political support, while at the same time fleecing US taxpayers. They may have convined themselves that they are protecting our interests, but in to whose pockets has half a trillion flowed? We have both the continuation of a gray train, and classic Manichaean thinking. The best way back to sanity is through taxpayer revolt.

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  2. brooksfoe says:

    How about letting the North Koreans themselves determine what is or is not good for them?
    Is it really necessary for us on the left to repeat every dull, naive, misguided and sometimes deadly mistake of the 1970s, just because the Republicans are? The above question should be addressed to Kim Jong Il, not to Steve Clemons or even GWB. “The North Koreans” cannot “themselves determine what is or is not good for them”, for reasons which should have been obvious to anyone since the Moscow Show Trials in 1936.
    That said, it is really difficult and perhaps impossible to conduct detente while simultaneously seeking to overthrow the other guy. Except in a long-term, “watch-this-seductive-glamorous-TV-series” fashion.

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  3. bob h says:

    Would be willing to bet that the Japanese have begun a crash nukes program, given the incompetence of the Bush administration and the Chinese truculence.

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  4. Freedom says:

    Congratulations, Steven! You’ve just won the “Imperialist of the Year” award!
    What is this: “We need to talk with North Korea — and then we need to plot a strategy that really undermines the internal and external legitimacy of Kim Jong Il.”
    You mean like this here?
    http://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/
    I give up! You people are indeed extremely arrogant. How about letting the North Koreans themselves determine what is or is not good for them? Is that so hard to do? You know, if you really want to win “hearts and minds”, providing a little respect to other people and to their country is truly a good place to start.
    I have often found your posts of a very high calibre. This one is not! I shall attribute that to the pain from your dental work that has surely gone to your head and has made you “coucou”.
    That said, take care of your health!

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  5. Zathras says:

    The election of a South Korean as Secretary General would change the North Korean problem’s diplomatic status dramatically. While I agree adjustments are required in American diplomacy in this region, I think it would be foolish to makes any changes before Ban’s candidacy has been resolved and (assuming he is elected) he has a chance to settle in.

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  6. JS says:

    Nice Post.
    I agree with you on Ban Ki Moon’s possible status and what it means for North Korean relations.
    But, Im not sure what you mean by “talking” to the North Koreans? I know this administration is ridiculously stubborn in unwilling to talk or recognize countries like Syria which leads to some greater issues.
    But in dealing with a country that isolates itself, Im not sure what recourse there is?
    The US has tried to talk to North Korea on several occasions and has had nothing but shenanigans thrown back at them in diplomatic exchanges.
    As for your suggestion, I personally believe its entirely impractical. There is no middle ground in terms of fracturing the leadership, causing a power struggle, or empowering the people to rise up. There is a dual functioning of NK military and government, that is they are essentually inclusive. You either have to deal with them and force them to change, or you have to remove them entirely.
    I’m certain that “brinkmanship” is a part of North Korea’s game, but theyre also playing a dangerous game.

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