Friday, November 06, 2009

Bilateral Dilemma

It is strongly held by many that unilateral actions lay way for conflicting relations among allies as well as organized committees and organizations. The question is, is there a time and a place where unilateral movements can present themselves as the bearer of progress more so than progressive conflict. Can the United States act, in a way, on its own and assuming positive outcomes have its actions embraced? Or are the powers of the world too caught up in prestige and ego, not able to recognize that in more instances than not the US can, and should, take on the theoretical role of primus inter pares for the benefit of all?

Here using these thoughts to address the current predicament internationally with addressing North Korea. The UN unanimously condemned North Korea after their failed satellite attempt, in April 2009, resulting in N. Korea pulling out of the continuing six party talks and resuming its nuclear weapons program; the talks being attended by South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, North Korea and the United States. Following former President Bush’s including North Korea in the label “axis of evil” the N Koreans reiterated their concern that having a nuclear weapons program was their only way of preventing a US attack on their soil, their only bargaining chip that they would not give up.

Now November North Korea has reportedly (NY Times Nov 2) made moves in once again pursuing talks, most likely in hopes of acquiring humanitarian aid, diplomatic recognition, decrease in current sanctions imposed upon them, and the list goes on. The problem for the US is that North Korea has expressed through Ri Gun, the diplomat on US affairs that they wish to first negotiate with the US before returning to the multilateral audience. They have stated that they are at a point where they are “ready to go their own way” with the nuclear weapons program if the US does not show an interest in taking advantage of the opportunity to talk. The US has taken the stance that they will not further engage with North Korea until they agree to return to the multilateral talks, therefore presenting a variation of the timeless dilemma, what comes first the chicken or the egg?

In a continued probing for US action this week North Korea reported that they have completed the transformation of plutonium into weapons grade bomb material and will also begin enriching uranium. They do so in what they call a move to “strengthen their self defense nuclear deterrent” due to the nuclear gains of hostile powers. It is worth noting that the N Korean war head Taep’o-dong 2, if ever fully developed is reportedly capable of reaching North America. So again the dilemma remains. It seems logical that the US should, given the opportunity act in these bilateral talks and attempt to make progress at disarmament; however given the international community and the fragile relationships can the US do so without causing friction? Is the move by North Korea to first only engage the US a discrete attempt at unsettling even further, the political relationships among powers? Or in this instance would United States action to pursue nuclear talks be embraced by the multifaceted community?

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