Free Markets, Free People

North Korea’s Repeating Pattern

I find it interesting to see what the foreign press has to say about things we do.  It gives a different perspective than one you’re likely to see in the highly partisan atmosphere in this country.  That’s not to say that foreign press reports aren’t biased to some (or to a great) degree.  However, they often have some useful insights.

Pertaining to the NoKo/hostage release situation, the Financial Times is one of those.  Other than the obvious, the release of the hostages, the FT wonders what each side got out of this.  On the NoKo side, it seems everyone agrees it was a propaganda coup for them.  But of what use was it?

The extraordinary photographs showing him flanked by a former US president (doing his best to imitate a sphinx) and several former US officials are a propaganda coup. They will without any doubt be used to shore up his position at home and secure his ability to confer succession upon his third son, Kim Jong-woon, still in his 20s.

So, in effect, the coup primarily benefits internal succession concerns. Is that all? Well, not really. There was more to it than that they say:

Mr Kim has used the arrest of two journalists to secure the bilateral meeting he craved, albeit with the head of a former administration. Next, he will be after money and supplies.

This is the key sentence in the article. And this is what has those who’ve denounced the trip concerned. Kim uses tactics like this to get what he wants, no matter how phony it ends up being. He uses our humanitarian concerns against us. So, in reality, we end up rewarding his bad behavior by doing what he craves – giving him attention at a very high level, even if it is “unofficial”. Which brings us to the second part of this – what did the US gain other than the release of the hostages?

Barack Obama has sought to portray Mr Clinton’s visit as purely private. That is not credible, particularly given the former president’s relationship to Hillary Clinton, secretary of state. In more than three hours of discussions with Mr Kim, Mr Clinton must have strayed beyond idle chit-chat. It can only be hoped he sought to discover what is North Korea’s negotiating bottom line and what, if anything, could persuade it to part company with its nuclear weapons.

This is the story-line that is least credible – “strictly private”. First Kim would never agree to waste an opportunity like this for a “strictly private” settlement. He held all the cards and it is completely unlike him to trade the hostages for a photo. And, if reports are correct, Bill Clinton’s plane wasn’t met but some random diplomatic staffer, but by North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator. So you have to assume that something other than “idle chit-chat” was on the agenda.

So what comes out of all of this. We’ve again set the precedent of giving in to North Korea. I’m not so sure it wasn’t the best move given the situation which left us few choices. However, it does set us up to have to respond in a like manner if a similar situation presents itself. In the meantime, the question is “does that open a channel that will lead to future dialog”?

My guess is no. We’re talking about a criminal enterprise in the guise of a state. They see our humanitarian concerns to be a weakness to be exploited. And exploit them they will. That doesn’t mean what was done was wrong. It just means we have to understand that hoping for a breakthrough based on what we did isn’t very likely. Instead it is just another example of North Korea using us to score a political and propaganda victory before they settle back into their normal criminal routine.

~McQ

6 Responses to North Korea’s Repeating Pattern

  • I came across some mubling that the “journalists” had become a liability for NoKo.  The NoKo prisons making Gitmo look like a resort (which it seems to be), so as the “journalist” continued to be given international exposure, it made them look bad.
    While all of that may be true, I find it hard to believe that the bad PR of NoKo prisons really compare to the nuclear story, but perhaps many people just don’t related to nuclear weapons while they do relate to dirty prisons.

  • All this for some lousy journos……what a disgrace

  • It sure looks like the guy on the far left is engaged in some sort of hand gesture. It’s the inverted Obama “sign of progress

  • Oh god, where to begin?
     
    First of all, we have an editorial written by someone, despite its naked caveats, obviously hostile to Bill Clinton.
     
    It was not long ago that the world had written him off as an ageing leader with little or no remaining grip on power.


    The extraordinary photographs showing him flanked by a former US president (doing his best to imitate a sphinx)


    So it seems is the other dear leader, Kim Jong-il.
     
     
    Begins to speculate -
     
    They will without any doubt be used to shore up his position at home and secure his ability to confer succession upon his third son, Kim Jong-woon, still in his 20s.
     
    Riiight.  Because without Clinton’s arrival, Il jr. jr. faced competition for the throne.
     
     
    It is clear what Mr Kim has gained.
     
    Is it?  Then the editorial goes on to speculate that we didn’t get anything from the meeting.  Really?  How does this author know?
     
    Two words come to mind after reading this.
    Greasy tripe.
     
    If this had been an editorial written just a few years ago with so much obvious vitriol regarding Bush and speculation about the failures in Iraq, McQ would have fed this pulp to his snarling, ravenous dogs.
     
     
    Should’ve just written one yourself, McQ.  Would’ve done a much better job.
     
    Cheers.
     

    • First of all, we have an editorial written by someone, despite its naked caveats, obviously hostile to Bill Clinton.

      Actually, it looks like the author is hostile to American Presidents in general, not just Clinton.

      It is clear what Mr Kim has gained.

      Is it?

      Yeah, it’s pretty clear. Kim got a former President to come over and grovel. That’s certainly more than he had before.

      If this had been an editorial written just a few years ago with so much obvious vitriol regarding Bush and speculation about the failures in Iraq, McQ would have fed this pulp to his snarling, ravenous dogs.

      There’s a fair bit of vitriol directed at Bush in there. You must not have seen it.

      Complaining this is some kind of anti-Clinton hit piece is pretty silly. A fairer characterization would be it’s a column written by a Brit who isn’t amused by American antics regarding North Korea.

  • North Korea was not very friendly to Clinton when he was president, in fact, they tricked Clinton. He’s pretty ballsy to go back there after they snookered him on uranium bombs.
    You know, I was joking when I said maybe Clinton paid some money for their release, but seriously, his brand awareness is something he has to keep up, and it gets harder with Obama in office. Maybe he did pay off some Macau debts for the photo op.  I mean, he probably can make millions more donations for his foundation this way. A top headline like that must be worth a lot.
    Ok, maybe he did not pay money to Kim, but help selling a Michael Jordan autographed basketball on EBay?