Appeasement is not a Viable Strategy with North Korea, as 25 Years of it has Shown

An article appeared in the Taipei Times on Sunday, October 29, 2017 on p. 6 regarding the North Korean crisis entitled Talking Must be the Only Answer by Ian Inkster  http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2017/10/29/2003681233/3

Mr. Inkster very instantly and blithely dismisses the most important concept identified by President Trump, that “the US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years,” at the outset of Inkster’s article.  President Clinton made the horrific mistake of trusting North Korea in 1992, and the agreement with North Korea was violated by North Korea before the ink was dry. Years of Chinese prevarication, talking, and “statesmanship”, as Mr. Inkster lovingly suggests, in particular over the past 8 years by the great statesman President Obama, produced nuclear weapons, long range missiles and a hydrogen bomb. So much for statesmanship. As I mentioned before in my blog post, and here, and in others, President Reagan scared the Iranians so much they released the hostages they had held for a year within hours of his inauguration, after years of wimpiness from President Carter. Curiously we find ourselves in a similar position, with 8 years of extraordinary wimpiness from President Obama followed by a very loose and sometimes scary but apparently resolute cannon (despite not being the brightest bulb in the marquee of life).

Mr. Inkster refers to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He must have viewed it as a young teen through the foggy mist across the pond. From here, in New York, a hop, skip and jump from Washington, I saw and felt President Kennedy’s “bluster”, which Mr. Inkster says Kennedy did not display, but his spine, and his temerity, his willingness to meet move with move and show of strength with show of strength, and the backdoor channel ready to receive a message of contrition from Khrushchev is what made the Russians back down and get the missiles out of Cuba, not “statesmanship” alone. In those days, the US had 16 times as many nuclear weapons as the Soviets, and Khrushchev knew it. Were Kennedy instead Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama, Cuba would be a colony of the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles on our doorstep. Make no mistake. Kennedy played chicken well, and Khrushchev blinked, and then a basis for resolution was found. Junior knows the score. He is crazy but he is not an idiot. He looks for weakness and tries to exploit it. But like a rat, he has no desire to die.

In Europe, the strategy for everything has always been, compromise, compromise, compromise. Even with Hitler. Even with Russia. Even with Iran. Even with N. Korea. Particularly with China. It is this unwillingness to show strength to achieve compromise that has always led to horrible deals. I am not surprised by this (and Europe had a willing partner in Obama, whose foreign policy was taken directly from Europe’s playbook, which is why his foreign policy was reviled in the US, and loved abroad).

As soon as Trump spoke his mind (and the more unhinged he sounds, the better at present for strategic purposes) the European members of NATO were on their hands and knees begging for talks with N. Korea. To what end? To what compromise? To give a lunatic encouragement? Let an insane regime have a hydrogen bomb? There will be no resolution to this situation unless NATO grows a spine and plays its part (which is not begging, but rather trying to convince junior that Trump would love to test the US arsenal), and when North Korea weighs its options well, it will find a way to save face and back down.

And the answer is not relying on China. China has been playing the North Korea game for 25 years, playing every President and every administration and Europe for fools, just as the Palestinians have. It is a farce. Bullies only understand one thing. A punch in the nose, or the very real threat of one. Tea on the veranda is not the approach.

 

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