Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice acknowledged last week that America’s policies regarding North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program over the last three administrations had failed. She said, rightly, “You can call it a failure. I accept that characterization of the efforts of the United States over the last two decades.”
Former Vice President Al Gore said much the same. They should know. They served under President Bill Clinton, who started things rolling downhill with the Agreed Framework of 1994. This misbegotten deal provided Pyongyang 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil annually and two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for the North’s promise to abandon its nuclear-weapons efforts.
Pyongyang violated its promise before the ink was dry. In 1999, former Secretary of State James Baker denounced Clinton’s approach as “a policy of appeasement.” Baker’s characterization also applies to much of the subsequent U.S. diplomacy. North Korea has always been willing to promise to abandon its nuclear ambitions to get tangible economic benefits. It just never gets around to honoring its commitments.
After 25 years of failure, we need not tarry long (or at all) on more diplomacy with Pyongyang. Fred Ikle once characterized the North as capable of “boundless mendacity.” He was being charitable. Talking to North Korea is worse than a mere waste of time. Negotiations legitimize the dictatorship, affording it more time to enhance its nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities.
Today, only one diplomatic option remains, and it does not involve talking to Pyongyang. Instead, President Trump should urge President Xi Jinping that reunifying the Korean Peninsula is in China’s national interest. This is a hard argument to make, requiring reversal of decades of Chinese policy. It should have been broached years ago, but it is still doable. There is now growing awareness in China that maintaining the two Koreas, especially given the current nuclear crisis, does not benefit China long-term.
Historically, the Korean Peninsula’s 1945 partition was always intended to be temporary. Kim Il-Sung’s 1950 invasion of South Korea and three years of ultimately inconclusive war resulted in hardening the bifurcation into its current manifestation. Beijing has backed the status quo, believing that North Korea provided a buffer between Chinese territory and U.S. military forces.
Maintaining its satellite, however, has been expensive and risky. China has long supplied more than 90 percent of the North’s energy needs, and vast quantities of food and other assistance to sustain Pyongyang’s gulag. China has also expended enormous political and diplomatic energy, costing it precious international credibility, to protect the North’s erratic regime.
Initially, China saw the North’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs as a problem for America, Japan and South Korea rather than itself. That notion has disappeared, however, under the harsh prospect that today’s nuclear crisis will be merely the first of many with North Korea. Moreover, Japan is now increasingly likely to seek its own nuclear capability, a nightmare for China in some respects more troubling than America.
Confronted by this new, deeply threatening reality, Beijing’s views on Korean reunification are ripe for change. China has never applied its uniquely strong economic leverage on Pyongyang because it feared so doing could cause catastrophic collapse of the North’s regime. That would in turn produce two unacceptable consequences: massive Korean refugee flows across the border into China, and American and South Korean troops crossing the DMZ and quickly reaching the Yalu and Tumen Rivers.
|An inscription stone marking the border of China and North Korea, in Jilin. (Image source: Prince Roy/Wikimedia Commons)|
The answer to China’s fear of uncontrolled collapse is a jointly managed effort to dismantle North Korea’s government, effectively allowing the swift takeover of the North by the South. China can start by quietly bribing the Kim regime’s top military and civilian officials, offering political asylum and a safe exile for them and their families in China, while simultaneously cutting off energy and other supplies to the North. Seoul can also offer inducements to key North Korean leaders, reminding them what life could be like in a post-Kim world.
Simultaneously, massive information efforts should be launched throughout the North to spread word quickly on what is happening. The population may lack cell phones and the Internet, but they are far more aware of the outside world than conventional stereotypes. The end of North Korea, and hence the end of its nuclear threat, would be inevitable. The process will undoubtedly be dangerous and somewhat chaotic, but far less so than a completely uncontrolled collapse. And whatever the risks, they pale before the risks of nuclear conflict emanating from the erratic Kim regime.
Washington can offer Beijing two assurances to assuage its concerns. First, we would work closely with China to prevent massive refugee flows either into China or South Korea. Our common interests here are clear. Second, as the North begins to collapse, allied forces would necessarily cross the DMZ to locate and secure Pyongyang’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons stockpiles and to maintain civil order.
These forces would ultimately reach China’s border, but we can commit to Beijing that Washington will not station troops there for a sustained period. Instead, we would pledge to base virtually all U.S. military assets near Pusan at the Peninsula’s southern tip, to be available for rapid deployment around Asia. They would not constitute a watch on the Yalu.
The alternative to this last available diplomatic play is military force. The imperative of protecting innocent American civilians from the long-term threat of North Korea’s nuclear capability dictates that we should be willing to strike those capabilities pre-emptively. But before that, who will argue against this one last realistic diplomatic effort?
John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.
This article first appeared in The Hill and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
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Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.