The Spitfire's Grill
Regular Rants from a Pragmatic Liberal
Friday, May 13, 2005
Topic of the Day: North Korea
NOTE: This was supposed to be yesterday's topic of the day but my laptop batteries died so now I'm typing it all over again at a truckstop. As such I'm placing it so it looks like I typed it yesterday.

Today's topic of the day needs little inspiration. But we can try this NYTimes article for one, but PRNK makes front page NYTimes headlines about every other day now, so just open a newspaper.


The Bush Administration, as I have said many times in the past, likes to view things in a vacuum. Indeed, it is politically advantageous to compartmentalize issues because that is, indeed, exactly what voters do. However, while it is human nature to compartmentalize subjects which we have little familiarity with (eg, foreign policy), people who deal with the subject on an hourly basis should not do just that. Joe Klein (I might be the only blogger who actually likes this guy...) wrote an excellent article a couple months back called the "Blink Presidency" in which he lays out Bush's style comparing it to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Klein's article was the single greatest summation of the Bush management philosophy:
It should come as no great revelation that George W. Bush is a wantonly decisive President. He decides Ariel Sharon is good and Yasser Arafat is evil, even though seasoned diplomats tell him it is not wise to make such sweeping judgments.
The problem with "blinking" instead of thinking is that you don't have time to determine all the possible impacts of your decisions. Most notably has been the recent conclusion drawn by many that Kim Jung Il sees Bush's invasion of Iraq, which had no WMDs, and no military threats on him as saying: "The US only invades nations without weapons of mass destruction". Did Kim need Iraq to make that connection? No, but it certainly has sped up Kim's timetable and will to possess workable nuclear weapons and his resolve to use diplomacy as a delay tactic.

Now Bush has really worked himself into a corner, there's no real option on dealing with North Korea right now other than the diplomacy games he's playing. Furthermore there are only really two long-term options (barring an internal conflict in PRNK to bail us out): play tough or spend cash.

Specifically, the first option involves toughing it out with NK and hoping for the best. Not very promising, indeed.

The second option isn't as politically popular, but I say we go for it. Look at China (maybe Topic of the Day sometime soon?). China has been moving towards capitalism, which has made it more peaceful (fingers crossed on Taiwan), and it looks like it might slowly move towards a more democratic government due to rise of the Chinese middle class. Give some encouragements to NK to move to a more capitalistic system and you'll see a similar process occur. Unfortunately, it will take many decades, which doesn't work well for the "show results in 4 years" system we have here in the US, but maybe some President will have the balls to do it. If that President was George Bush, I might be more willing to forgive some of his bad blinking.

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