The View From 1776
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Foreign Policy Realism vs Play-Acting
More thoughts about Diplomacy vs Public Posturing, plus Larry Auster’s astute observations about negotiations with Iran.
The Intellectual Conservative website was kind enough to publish the article noted above. Alongside it, they published an interesting article which sees the Bush administration as simply repeating the Clinton administration’s mistakes of attempting to bribe the North Koreans with offers of various kinds of aid in exchange for promises to play nice.
My own impression, however, is somewhat different, that the structure and methodology of the Bush administration’s ongoing diplomatic negotiations with North Korea are fundamentally different from those of the Clinton administration.
As I understand it, the reason for not repeating the Clinton one-on-one with North Korea is the realization that only China is in a position to bring meaningful pressure on North Korea, short of military action. Reportedly, much of North Korea’s exports and imports are via China. China could starve the North Koreans in a matter of weeks if she chose to close the border to food and other goods moving into North Korea. If China supports us, at least in part because it does not wish to see Japan forced to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the nuts in North Korea, then we are not dealing with a one-way illusion as Mr. Journo pictures it in his Intellectual Conservative article. A resurgent, fully armed Japan would be a major threat to China and an additional deterrent to future Chinese military action to seize control of Taiwan.
Japan, of course, must be, and is, a participant, as it stands in the greatest immediate peril, after South Korea. The North Koreans have already threatened Japan by lobbing long-range missiles over Japanese territory. It is all but certain, as I’m sure Condi Rice has made point-blank clear to the Chinese, that the United States will have no choice but to assist in Japan’s rearmament if China doesn’t forestall the North Koreans. However strong China is today, compared to Japan, the Chinese have a long historical memory that includes the repeated ability of the Japanese to dominate that quarter of the world. Moreover, Rice must have suggested, however indirectly, that with its economy lagging, the Japanese government might even welcome a military rearmament as a stimulus.
The Chinese, by most accounts facing a potential banking collapse and the need to prop up moribund and uneconomic state industries, have a continuing vital interest in keeping the United States markets open to Chinese manufactures. Doubtless, Condi Rice is making certain that Chinese diplomats are fully aware of the fulminations in Congress against cheap Chinese imports that kill American jobs.
Finally, we must give North Korea at least a face-saving sop, in this case promises of various kinds of aid. If they waltz again on their agreement, then we must look to China to rap their knuckles.
The whole point of real, secret diplomacy, as I understand it, is to make all parties realize that they imperil their own national interests by not supporting a policy we espouse.
None of the points mentioned above could ever be discussed publicly, assuredly not in an open forum like the UN General Assembly, because liberal leaders like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Nancy Pelosi would hold press conferences to foment mob demonstrations in the streets, with people screaming in front of TV cameras that Bush is ginning up another war-scare to put more millions into the pockets of evil capitalists like Halliburton.
President Bush may not be able to make this diplomatic approach work, but it represents a realistic effort to reach an agreement in which all parties have something to gain by adhering to it, and something to lose by breaking it; most importantly the the something-to-lose has real sharp teeth in it.
The only abetting of North Korea’s nuclear ambition comes from our liberal-socialists, who are more intent upon weakening the President than dealing with the Axis of Evil, who are ever confident that, if we can just move all foreign policy issues into the socialist cauldron of the UN, we can buy off any aggressor with promises of materialistic goodies.
In the same vein, read Larry Auster’s very astute observations regarding the feckless efforts of the EU, and soon the UN, to impose the sort of sanctions that proved ineffective for twelve years against Sadam Hussein.