Saturday, January 18, 2003
The US needs to negotiate with DPRK. This fact is simple and powerful. The US sends envoys to Beijing, Russia sends delegations to Pyongyang and South Korea talks up its potential role as mediator with US and confirms the relationship with US but at the end of the day, the US needs to sit down with NK and talk this out. There is an alternative but nobody wants to follow that path. And yet, despite this basic premise, we still find that the US and NK have not agreed to talks and the longer US hesitates the more tensions build up.
By now, most countries have recognised this issue. Other countries can state their views and urge progress to US and NK but none but these two can resolve each others' concerns. The first step is to arrange a meeting, the second step is for US to face the realty of the situation and plan best how to address the issues at hand with a goal to long term stability and crisis defusion.
However, while US and NK need to resolve this matter, I also believe that South Korea should be given a key role in mediating for two reasons. Firstly, while the matter is between US and NK, the potential damage stemming from failure will be on the South. The direct link between success of the talks and the future and well being of South Korea necessitates a key role for SK. Secondly, once this crisis has been reduced, SK should begin to take a larger role in security relations between North and South. The long term goal of reunification will depend on these two states being able to live together and agree on how to merge. At present a status of limited dialogue is never going to lead to substantial plans for easing tensions over the long-term. With US forces in Korea as a credibility of US support for SK, there is no reason why SK cannot be more keenly involved in difusing crises and negotiating with the North in the future. It simply requires US to take a quieter role and stand next to or behind the South rather than blatently in front.
I think this has a further advantage for US as well. In an era when the US faces many protests from countries all over the world for being unilateral superpower that bosses even its allies around, it might serve them better to give more diplomatic roles to its allies in direct association with the issue at hand. (not necessarily Israel and Palestine though as they are not a good example). But with US still standing firm and backing up with military support, just maybe other countries have the diplomatic skills to handle situations as well if not better than US. Making US alliances more participatory based and democratic could strengthen the weakened alliances, give US more respect and show the world a more unfied front in the war against terrorism.
Through my web surfing today I was directed to this site which I found to be v. interesting and thought I might recommend it to those of who are interested in economics, especially economic history. Although my interest is not so much economic history but economics.