Raising North Korea’s hackles at World Confab in Seoul

Intemperate as North Korea’s warnings to ‘declare war if its nuclear policy is criticised, may be, it is almost a sure bet that at the World Nuclear Summit that will be held in Seoul, South Korea on 26 March will put Pyongyang on the hot seat for its nuclear programme and forthcoming launch of a satellite on a long range missile to commemorate its founder Kim Il Sung’s 100 birthday.

The US and South Korea have shaped a common policy to put the DPRK’s back to the wall. In spite of the recent accord signed by Washington and Pyongyang whereby North Korea put its nuclear programme into deep hibernation in exchange for powdered milk and high energy chocolate bars, the American strategy is to give Pyongyang no breathing space at all.

You have to wonder if the common and coordinated US ROK policy towards North Korea has been set up for failure.

Critics of the US DPRK agreement say that North Korea will go back on its word. Still, Kim Jong il and now his son and successor Kim Jong eun have continually called for talks with the US. Their appeals have gone unanswered for the most part.

And yet chief of general staff of the Korean People’s Army Ri Yong ho announced that the IAEA inspectors will shortly be arriving in the DPRK to monitor North Korea’s nuclear activities.

George W Bush embarked on a reckless course in dealing with North Korea. So dumb were he and his advisors in thinking that shaming, shunning, and deliberately resorting to ‘ad hominem’ attacks of Kim Jong il would force North Korea to bend to his administration’s will, that what he go was Pyongyang’s testing a nuclear device.

Boy, did Bush & co. have to back peddle asap and begun talks again with Pyongyang which lacked any degree of seriousness other than to play nice so that the DPRK wouldn’t test another nuclear bomb.

The Obama administration early on adopted the Bush plan of ‘patient engagement’, which, translated, meant deep freezing any contact with North Korea. Not only that it coordinated its approach with South Korea’s president Lee Myung bak who has not only taken a ‘give no grounds’ to Pyongyang, but has almost started up a shooting war with the North in November 2010 and fancies himself as the man who will re unite a divided Korean peninsula.

China’s support of North Korea put a nasty hair in Obama’s soup: to wean Pyongyang from Beijing’s orbit, the US president and his clerisy of North Korean advisors have taking small steps of being nice to the North, without much imagination and sincerity.

The US and South Korea have consistently misread North Korea. Should they push Pyongyang too hard then their worst nightmare may come to pass: another nuclear test.

It does not make dollars and sense to go out of your way to set yourself up for failure. And yet macho America thinks talking to Kim Jong eun, whom they derisively dismiss as ‘that kid’, will somehow sully its honour. Eyewash.

If the Obama administration–or any US administration–is serious, they would engage the DPRK directly to work out long standing issues that go back 65 years at least, including ending the Korean War with a peace treaty.

That seems too simple an idea? And so as the American philosopher quipped: ‘the young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool’. And that about sums up current and past US policy towards North Korea.

Is the US capable of sitting down and negotiating in good faith?

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