I don't know why I keep highlighting my missed invasion date.
On the other hand, thinking the invasion is late really does free me to write about other foreign affairs topics. Just a matter of when not whether.
Anyway, critics of isolating North Korea already decry our lack of leverage. What leverage did we have with the 1994 agreement which the North Koreans violated immediately? And why do the critics think we want leverage? Yes, North Korea is very isolated and very poor. They are so bad off that they are unable to feed their own people. I don't think leveraging a ten percent decrease in torture and repression is the proper strategy. Regime change is needed but we have no military option short of several hundred nukes targeting every nuclear site, missile site, major base, and combat unit headquarters. I personally think that is too awful an alternative to contemplate. The article quotes the new South Korean president:
For the Bush administration, simply intensifying economic and political pressure on the North involves enormous political obstacles. South Korea has embraced engagement and dialogue as the best way to address the reclusive country to its north. It appears committed to that course -- a fact underscored today as South Korea's president, Kim Dae Jung, rejected containment as a failed doctrine.
"Pressure and isolation have never been successful with communist countries," Kim told his cabinet, in remarks distributed by the presidential Blue House. "Cuba is one example."
Huh? First of all, Cuba has had to make many compromises with communist economic practice to survive the ending of Soviet aid and American pressure. Castro could maintain his communist system as long as he did only because of massive Soviet subsidies. Second, does Kim really forget the pressure and isolation of the Cold War and the Soviet empire's resulting collapse? I'd say this strategy has a pretty good record.
And I disagree that we have no leverage. A richer, or at least less desperately poor regime, might shrug off our cut off of aid and fuel. We'll see if they decide starvation and total collapse of their regime is truly superior to giving up nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If Pyongyang wants to preserve their regime, they will find they undermine regime survival when confronted with the price of further isolation as the consequence of pursuing weapons of mass destruction. They really can count on aid from America and their allies to prevent starvation if they get rid of missiles and nukes. I'd say that is leverage.
But our aid should always be minimal. We have a humanitarian interest in preventing starvation (and a practical goal of making cooperation a better option for the North than rolling the dice and invading South Korea); but should not do so much that we solidify the regime. Just enough to string them along and give them false hope that riding out the poverty is superior to trying to knock off the rich South Koreans and looting them to bolster the North. And enough to keep the North Koreans from believing their ridiculous assertion that we plot war. Should they act on such a false belief, it will mean war.
Letting the North get away with acquiring nukes in the short run is disturbing. But more forceful options are not on the table right now.
The rest of the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) has orders to ship out to the Gulf. This used to be the 24th Division which set the Middle East land speed record during Desert Storm.