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May 22, 2010

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Lars Larson

I agree about the British Tories, I don't think David Cameron's smooth appearance is going to convince anyone in Europe that the Brits are still the most insular people on earth.

J

Hi Torn. I didn't know Hillary's a conservative; always thought she's liberal :)

The initial policy adopted by Bush towards North Korea was containment. But after Kim got his nukes, Bush had to cave in to Pyongyang with very little reciprocity. Perhaps what Clinton meant by business as usual was NK getting away with its provocative actions because the West, SK and Japan not willing to call his nuclear bluff.

Kim has always been trying to push SK and US to their limits. If Kim thinks the SK and US will let him get away with what hes done this time, heaven knows what stunt he will pull next to impress the ruling elite in NK and to strengthen his sons position as successor apparent as well as to divert peoples attention from economic malaise.

I think Hillary took the right step. US and SK must take calibrated approach that will balance between making Kim believe US and SK willing to call his bluff so that Kim wont do any reckless provocation again in future on one hand and not risking making Kim feel cornered and thus do irrational action on the other.

My two cents. :-)

torn

Oh that's worth more than 2 cents surely!

On the "conservative" tag, I suppose it depends whom you are comparing her with. Certainly compared with Obama she came across as more conservative in the 2008 primaries. She seems a status quo type of person to me. I thought her husband was quite conservative too, he didn't seem interested in carrying out any far-reaching reforms in his 8 years in office once health care had hit the skids.

However, if you are comparing her with George Bush ...

As for Kim Jong-il, what you say makes sense in a way, but the fact is that none of us know which way Kim is going to jump, perhaps he doesn't even know himself!

My point was that, although the sinking of the warship and the loss of 46 young lives was terrible and a natural sense of justice reacts against such an outrage going unpunished, the stakes are incredibly high. Just think of the loss of life that would result from a nuclear attack on Seoul. I am just not convinced that the Americans can handle a transition away from "business as usual" and I am concerned that matters could get out of hand quite quickly.

Perhaps I am also influenced by the fact that I am going to Seoul on a short holiday in a few weeks!

J

Oh, my girlfriend is South Korean and her dad is in Seoul. And you are right, the city is dangerously close to the border and vulnerable to both artillery and nukes. I agree that the stakes are too high. Besides, in the event of war, NK will surely disintegrate and SK can barely afford unification (SK economy, after it collapsed in 1997, is very fragile at this point).

President Lee, a conservative who went against his liberal predecessors sunshine policies, knows how high the stakes.

But, if SK doesnt react drastically; if Hillary didnt make those statements, I think Kim would take it that he hasnt gone past the limit yet. That he can do more and get away with it. The same way he did missile testings in Bush era and not only got away with it but got himself off the terrorist-sponsoring state list and the restrictions of trading with the enemy act. It would be a vicious cycle of Kim doing stunts and getting away with it. Which is what Hillary meant by business as usual IMO.

So, at the end of the day, as i said on my blog, its a tough balancing act. US and SK should not do something that risks war. But at the same time they should do something to send a message to kim that he cant get away with this and must face consequences, so that he wont do these provocations again.

:-)

torn

Very well put J. Basically, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. So perhaps I should not have written off Hillary's comments quite so glibly. Thanks for your insights.

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