So I've been reading North Korea Through the Looking Glass this evening, and it occured to me that the DPRK presented by Hassig/Oh is much different than the DPRK the news writes about. Apparently North Korea is a nation whose populous is constantly on the brink of starvation and malnurishment, a nation devoid of industry or services, a nation with a defunct administration that begs its enemies for foreign aid in order to maintain the status quo. How does this stack up against "nukular" North Korea? Not very well. Or at least I'm still having trouble digesting it all.
President Clinton has noted in both his novel and in recent speechs that North Korea became a cause for concern during the latter months of his second term. But North Korea was hardly on the map for our generation at the time of the 2000 Presidential debates. Today, though most people cannot locate North Korea on a map, many understand that this impoverished 4th world nation is one of the greatest threats to US interests today. How did this come to be? Why does it appear that neither Presidential candidates have addressed this problem?
President Bush tried to take a hard line against Kim Jong-il by working hard to maintain 20 months of no negotiations (hard work indeed). This policy failed by allowing North Korea to be all but a step away from becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. So Bush foreign policy: No weapons (as in Iraq), invade; we think they have weapons (as in Korea), give them more time to develop them so that we can be sure?? What kind of foreign policy is this?
Senator Kerry provides few details on how exactly his foreign policy would differ besides his approach to negotiations. And to be quite honest, I have grown tired of trying to pin down his approach to any aspect of Asian foreign policy (not unusual, but certainly a pesterance).
So what is North Korea and if it is what we really say it is, why is nothing being done, and why is what is being done not enough? And finally, why haven't our leaders stepped forward to confront this problem? Some have suggested that our current policy is working. This is true to an extend, but a very limited extent. The current policy is not without its risks, and if these risks are as grave as the ever ghoulish Dick Cheney has proclaimed, then obviously our current policy is a long way from being satisfactory.
Okay, I've digressed. I'm still baffled by how this 4th world nation, and I use the term fourth world because I cannot think of any 3rd world nations with many similarities, can pose such a great risk and remain unconfronted by the world's leading superpower, especially considering the current administrations neoconservative/"pre-emptive" approach to foreign policy. Slowly I've come to reconcile this image of Korea. although it has not been easy. So where does this leave us? How will Senator Kerry tackle the challenges presented by a "nukular" North Korea as President? I can feel a headache coming on... I'll continue to clarify my rant tomorrow.