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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A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.