Thursday, March 08, 2007

Flash News: The Cold War Ends in Pyongyang, North Korea

Lost in the banter over the recent tentative agreement with North Korea that would disarm it’s nuclear arsenal was an incredible development: the Bush Administration backed down, Pyongyang won.

This actually is not a bad outcome. If it holds, the agreement will go down in history not as an arms control deal but as the end of the Cold War.

By opening the door to possible negotiations over diplomatic normalization between the United States and North Korea, Washington made a long-overdue concession, even if it was tacit, to recognize the North Korean regime as legitimate. It’s akin to Iran saying, okay, maybe Israel does have a right to exist.

This is not just a matter of the Bush Administration wisely reversing its foolish policy of promoting regime change. Since the hostilities in the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with a shaky armistice – not a peace treaty – the United States has steadfastly refused to negotiate with the North one-on-one to resolve tensions in the powder keg Korean Peninsula. This suited Cold War strategy and gave virtual combat training to our troops on the DMZ. But the policy should have been jettisoned in 1990, when the opportunity to support South Korea’s new policy of engagement and eventual reunification came and went.

The result has been 17 years of wasted time. Cut off from its major patron in the collapsing Soviet Union, the economy tanked and famines and deprivation followed. The seeds were sown for a desperate and fatalistic course to gain international respect with nuclear weaponry.

The Clinton Administration picked up the hot potato from the myopic Bush I gang and forged a flawed but credible attempt to coax the starving and paranoid Communist state back toward reality. Then George Bush Junior and his foaming-at-the-mouth advisors stepped in and quashed the disarmament deal. Get this: they acted on dubious intelligence reports about a new uranium enrichment program. And they forced the Asian partner in the “axis of evil” into a corner, where it bared its fangs.

North Korea remains a repugnant country, a failed autarkic experiment in totalitarianism ruled by an irrational scion of dynastic political cult worship. It boasts the worst record on human rights violations in our Galaxy, bar none.

But finally, it looks like it got what it needed to start the proccess of rejoining the ranks of international society.