Those of you who linked to my commentary on North Korea last week — whether to enjoy a bit of Bush-bashing, or possibly to revel in some Bush-bashing — might have noticed my addendum to the article, written as an afterthought perhaps an hour after the original post (and one reason I decided to add asides to TI, so I wouldn’t have to do that so much any more):
Watch China. We can’t do shit there. That will leave it up to Japan, South Korea and China to handle this. I’m willing to bet that the Chinese response will be well-received, and improve that nation’s status in the eyes of most of the rest of the world. Except, of course, in the US. By being unable to react, Bush has left the door open to the possibility of a sino-nipponese alliance; the entire politics of dealing with Asia will be utterly different by 2010.
Okay, well, I can’t crow too loudly, because this is one of those times when being right is not all it’s cracked up to be. For starters the WA Post is reporting that China is being asked by the UN to help wrangle Mr. Kim.
One day after passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution punishing North Korea for its apparent test of a nuclear weapon, senior U.S. diplomats said yesterday that China must help enforce it and use economic leverage to compel Pyongyang to return to disarmament talks.
China is reluctant to play ball. The Chinese government doesn’t want to enforce shipping sanctions because they don’t want to annoy Kim any further, which I suppose makes some sense, but not very much — until you remember that China and NKor are, more or less, allied nations.
For how much longer is anyone’s guess; if Kim starts getting too crazy, if he begins seriously threatening China, he will not last.
But what’s certain to exacerbate things is Il Duce’s cadre of damned fools, most notably Rice and Bolton. (Remember Bolton? The loudmouth bully?) Rhetorical strongarm attempts such as these from Bolton
This test by the North Koreans had to have been humiliating to China.
are not going to to win us any friends.* Next I suppose we’ll have Bush Himself declaiming “You’re either with us, or you’re with North Korea.”
Condi’s somewhat cooler head was evident in her own comment.
You’re going to find China carrying out its responsibilities, undoubtedly carrying it out in a way that it believes will not enhance conflict. None of us want to enhance conflict with these measures. We just want to keep North Korea from trading in dangerous materials.
This doesn’t make her less of an asshat than Bolton or Bush; it just makes her more subtle about her asshattery.
And subtle asshattery is the best we can hope for from this administration.
But it gets worse. Japan’s rethinking its no-nuke policy.
TOKYO, Oct. 15 — Japan needs to discuss whether it should possess nuclear weapons in response to North Korea’s claimed nuclear test, the ruling party’s policy chief said Sunday.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I don’t have cold shivers at the idea of “yella divils” getting their hands on nukes and blowing us all to hell or anything. World War II was more than two generations ago, and anyone who imagines Japan is now as it was then is an anachronism unworthy of being given notice.
The significance of Japan’s shift in stance is subtler. This is the only nation in the world that ever had nukes used on it, and the scar left in the Nipponese psyche is profound, probably much more terrible and enmeshed than we in the US can possibly comprehend.
At this point it’s still just talk:
There is argument that nuclear weapons are one such option. I want to make clear that I am not the one saying this, and Japan will stick to its nonnuclear principles, but we need to have active discussions,” [Shoichi Nakagawa] said.
But … that their sense of national security — and isolation from any possible assistance — has pushed them into even discussing arming up to nukes says more about how dismal, how destabilized things have become. For the Japanese to consider using nukes is like a Jewish person arguing in favor of concentration camps, or an American advocating suicide bombing of civilian targets as a legitimate course of warfare.
I can’t imagine the kind of strain this suggests; it’s got to be bad, though.
Let’s not forget that it was Bush who asked, in 2000, why he should worry about North Korea. Wonder if he understands now.
* And this clown was a Nobel Prize nominee!
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