Monday, August 7, 2017

The big question in the North Korea situation

It's pretty big news that the entire UN Security Council is on board with the most stringent sanctions yet against North Korea, choking off its exports of coal, iron ore and seafood. Of course, keeping China and Russia on board going forward is going to be a full-time job.

A lot of the credit seems to go to the fantastic Nikki Haley, who has clearly found her mission in life in her role as US ambassador to the UN:

Haley entered the U.N. to meet a world despondent at Hillary Clinton's defeat. In diplomatic circles, Haley was seen as a stick-figure of President Trump's patronage. Someone who had sucked up just enough to get a job and plush diplomatic living. Someone who would do little, leave office with another entry on her Wikipedia profile, and join the millionaire speaking circuit. Instead, Haley has won the respect of her fellow diplomats and rallied the world on both Syria and North Korea.
On Syria, while Haley has been unable to guide Trump away from appeasing Russia, she has nevertheless made a positive impact. In frequent, aggressive condemnations of Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's slaughter, Haley has prevented Russia from positioning itself as a moral actor on the Syrian civil war. That has long been a top Russian priority, but now it is dead. In turn, Haley has made the U.S. the leading voice for Syrian Sunnis. This is important for two reasons.
First, it represents the return of American moral leadership after eight years of Obama administration neglect. Second, it helps consolidate the Sunni-Arab monarchies in believing that the U.S. will not allow Iran, Assad, and Russia to set the path of the Middle East uncontested. That understanding matters because if they lack that faith, the Sunni monarchies will double down on groups like the Islamic State.
Similarly, on North Korea, Haley has built a close working relationship with other U.N. ambassadors, particularly those of America's European allies. This has allowed Haley to represent America's sense of urgency about North Korea in a more credible and effective way than other U.S. officials. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for example, doesn't seem to know what to say.
She's clearly the mover and shaker in our diplomatic apparatus.

The sanctions haven't resulted in any shift in attitude on the part of the Kim regime, at least so far:

North Korea is ready to give the United States a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force if it takes military action against it, and will not put its nuclear programme or its missiles on the negotiating table, it said in a statement to a regional meeting on Monday.
In a transcript of a statement by Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, which was distributed to media in Manila, Pyongyang called new U.N. sanctions "fabricated" and warned there would be "strong follow-up measures" and acts of justice. It said the resolution showed the United Nations had abused its authority.
It said its intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July proved that the entire United States was in its firing range, and those missiles were a legitimate means of self-defence.
It was not immediately clear whether the statement was read to the ASEAN Regional Forum on Monday. 
Of course, the most desirable outcome would be for North Korea to say, "Hey, we can see that this bluster brings the whole planet to the brink. That doesn't serve us, much less anybody else. Yes, let's schedule some face-to-face talks."

But how likely is that?

And is everyone really considering the implications of any other scenario?

The plain fact is that there's not much more we can do that doesn't involve a level of devastation we've never seen, or at least in seven decades. And this time, in a world dependent on cyber-interconnectedness, novel forms of havoc will manifest themselves quickly.

Again, I say, if we squeak through this, let us learn the glaring lesson from it. In fact, we could act on that kind of wisdom right now by pulling out of the JCPOA with Iran.

By the way, did you know the head of the North Korean parliament - the regime's number-two despot - is in Iran right now for a ten-day visit?


  1. Fire and fury!!!!! Worse than shock and awe. Levine asks, do we have what it takes?

  2. No we do not have the Commander in Chief that it takes. Hubris is the original sin of American exceptionalism and Donnie is the pridefulest of the prideful. The whole world that once was watching is now close to toast. Enjoy all ye hawks! It's gonna be a really great show.

  3. The preacher man say Donnie got his marching orders from God!