Forgive, is the message of Christmas. But do not forget. The person who betrayed trust is still in that body. Trust is a gift best reserved for those who deserve it. We reserve the word “disgrace” for a serious reason – it is the permanent loss of credibility and assumed morality; it is a revocation of the gift of grace.
In 2005 Doug Bandow resigned from the Cato Institute because he accepted bribes from Jack Abramoff. He published articles in the Copley News Service, favoring Abramoff’s clients. He served almost four years of a six-year, plea-agreement sentence.
My question: why does anyone listen to him or publish his opinions? Well, the Huffington Post raised their hand.
His recent HuffPost opinion article is about Korea. After visiting Pyongyang in June, he says, “Washington sees North Korea as a security challenge. Yet the North threatens America only because the U.S. intervened in the conflict between the two Koreas. The case for defending now populous and prosperous South Korea expired long ago.”
What did they do to him while he was there? Did they bribe him too? Does he know Dennis Rodman? Is he still an American?
He proposes more-of-the-same diplomacy. From 1953 until today, North Korean’s persistent, winning tactic has been to extract financial aid and other concessions from the West by making promises to be good or do better. Once they have what they need, they break all the promises, ratchet up the oppression of their people, and take food out of the mouths of their children for money to develop rockets and nuclear weapons. (I wonder if they would be willing to sell such things to terrorists?)
The whole mindset of engaging North Korea in diplomacy is ludicrous. How many times will we settle for the same false promises to liberalize their iron-fisted culture, or scale back their military? After six decades of this soft-headed, “gentle” approach, what do we have to show? Rocket Man. Doing more of what has not worked is insanity.
What do we have now? Change. China knows North Korea intimately. They buy most of their exports. They have people living and working there. They are North Korea’s lifeblood. As long the N. Koreans stay “in bounds” and do not unsettle the region, China sees them as proxy insulation between themselves & Western encroachment. But the “buffer” has begun to attract rather than distract Western attention, and not in a good way.
China has finally broken ranks with the North Korean government. They have more to lose than gain from world condemnation or another Korean War. China knows that the U.S. cannot, and will not allow any kind of attack on itself or its allies.
Kim Jong-Un is no fool. We Americans imagine a vast divide between North and South Korea. Not so much. Families still span both regions of the same peninsula. The desire to reunite is strong and frustrated in a culture that reveres family to the point of sublimating the individual.
In a recent speech, Kim played on this underlying theme in a “we/us” versus “they/them” appeal, saying that, at last, with the nuclear shield he has created, Koreans are no longer under the thumbs of other cultures; that Koreans can stand on their own and join hands. I know that sounds strange to us, but the connections are powerful and subtle. The overture to discuss the Olympic Games is another tactic to get us back in the old game of you give, we take, while they crash forward with nukes and missiles. Is this fooling anyone? The South Koreans are all smiles.
The biggest challenge Kim faces is China. Kim and his predecessors have skillfully played the Chinese desire for stable unity in Asian and the threat that millions of North Koreans would flood across the extended border with China. Pressure at the borders is building. The number of attempted defections/escapes across the DMZ is amplified, while similar attempts to get into China and Russia are not reported at all.
Almost all North Korean defectors head to China before making their way to South Korea to avoid the heavily militarized border separating the two Koreas. The Chinese accept this conduit role, as long as the escapees do not stay in China. (Like Mexico, giving Central American migrants and refugees a free pass through Mexico to the U.S.)
China has quietly added military resources along the most likely escape routes from North Korea. Russia has a small, but similar border vulnerability, and has built up its military presence across the border.
The US current stance is likely to spur the Chinese to tone down or neutralize Kim Jong-Un to achieve their ultimate goal: stability. Appearances are key. No one wants their fingerprints on this effort. Deniability is the standard by which all will be judged.
I am confident that China, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan are engaged in every type of discussions and plans they can imagine. The main obstacle to resolution is “face.” All parties need to preserve and improve their “face” at home and in the world. How to tame or replace Kim Jong-un is a top priority for some of the world’s most powerful governments. I have faith that Chinese ingenuity and American courage will combine to defuse threats to peace in the region.
(Discussion of Face: https://wp.me/p1qZOe-C7)