Wednesday, August 13, 2003

No invite for JB

It was just last month that the 50th anniversary of the signing of armistice was "celebrated" and as Timenotes, little has really changed in that time regarding the situation. The armistice, meant to be temporary, remains a fragile thread endeavouring to keep peace on the peninsular. But despite the face-off that still goes on between North and South Korea, the dynamics are somewhat changed. North Korea is not feared for being communist any more, it is feared for its potential to support terrorist nations/groups/individuals and it is despised for having the audacity to build a nuke and feel threatened by the world's supreme power and in turn to threaten the world (or least those parts of it wtihin striking range). The result is the same but the underlying premise of the situation has altered over time.

To address the issues of the nuke dilemma, North Korea has now *finally* agreed to six-way talks. However, this one long-awaited positive step on the part of the North Koreans pales before the negative steps they have taken in the meantime to avoid talks and ratchet up tensions. But we move on, and a positive side for the US, they have stated that JB won't be attending.

After my last commentary on JB I got more attention than expected. I stand by my original comments but I'd like to back and see if I can more adriotly express myself (or not). Firstly, concerning JB himself, it is my opinion that any diplomat who proceeds in an undiplomatic way to the extent they threaten to undo progress (North Korea could have used his words as an excuse to further delay talks) has not done their job - as a diplomat - satisfactorily. Though many may share his opinions, his "straight-talking" was inappropriate and his ideas could have been articulated more circumspectly so as to avert such criticism of himself and the US methods for handling the North issue.

Regarding the larger picture, talks on his comments gave rise to questions regarding US motivations for engaging in talks in the first place. One theory posed was that negotiations helped to show US good intentions to find a peaceful solution. US may well use negotiations only to the extent that they seek to show other nations that such a method will not work and thus gain more broad support for military intervention. However, this tactic is only useful in so far as the other nations perceive that US has not pre-determined that talks will fail. If US has already decided that talks will inevitabley fail, I would think it useless to even bother with talks or talks of talks and better to move on to a strategy that they have faith in. Arragning talks is fruitless unless there is belief that they will work.

Other stuff
The CIA factbook for 2003 is now on-line. This is pretty cool, you can check out all or any countries you are interested in and get some good base information about them.

Also, today is...Left Hander's Day!! As a lefty myself I was disconcerted when I first heard that on average we die some seven years earlier than righties. Especially since I'm as clumsy as they come in matters of scissors, knifes, and the dreaded vegetable peeler. The Guardiangives some comments on the day as well.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui