Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teenagers...for now

In Appeasement in International Politics, the author describes the relationship between North Korea and the U.S. in President Bush and President Clinton’s tenures. It was a process of going back and forth in negotiations, appeasement with accountability. The North Korean actions discussed towards the end of Kim Il Sung’s reign seem awfully similar to what is occurring now that Kim Jong Il wants his son to take up the reins in North Korea. It appears that another dance of military posturing alternating with diplomatic actions will take place for the benefit of the North Korea people, designed to instill popular confidence in the youngest general of them all and to prove that he is ready, willing and able to take the helm in Pyongyang.

This has security implications for South. How far will the son go in “protecting” North Korea from the West and further the goal of reuniting the peninsula? All eyes will be on the boy as he comes of age. Like a prepubescent boy, he doesn’t have the benefit of wisdom and will be prone to make mistakes for the sake of nationalism…how he thinks the nation ought to proceed. Will he act with giddiness once he has control of North Korea nuclear capabilities or will he act rationally? There is also the chance that if he proves himself this year, much to the tense chagrin of the world, then when he actually is instated, that he reaches out to the West and to South Korea. This would end hostilities and be a sign that he and his people accept modernization, seeking reconciliation and negotiating another Agreed Framework, this time honoring the accords in order to bring North Korea into the wholehearted embrace of the U.N.

I’m not quite sure what America would do if North Korea did an about face. What would our politicians have to do in a post-Cold War, post-NK world?

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