Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

US – North Korea negotiations: What is really going on?

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2009

Or perhaps better to ask, What is really *not* going on? Korea expert Andrei Lankov, writing in the Asia Times, argues that for once, the Obama Administration’s foot-dragging and dithering in the foreign policy arena is actually a good strategy when it comes to North Korea:

Lankov’s essential point is that North Korea has been “playing” the US for many years, and the Administration, led by Secretaries Clinton and Gates, has decided to turn the tables on them. In the past, North Korea had an edge because the US wanted something from them – denuclearization – and needed at least the appearance of an agreement badly enough to make concessions without insisting on verification of the NK side of the agreement, which was never fulfilled.

Instead, the US is now giving lip service to negotiations but not actually pursuing them. This sends a message to North Korea: If you are not serious about reaching an agreement, we won’t take you seriously.

Of course, there is the possibility that North Korea may try to raise the stakes by committing further provocations. The recent naval skirmish between North and South Korea may be the first sign of this. The Administration will have to steel itself not to give ground no matter how many missile tests or belligerent announcements come from Pyongyang. If NK leader Kim Jong-Il becomes convinced that there is an iron fist inside the US’ velvet glove, he may decide that it’s better to shake hands than play ratslap.


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