On CNSNews I see that North Korea is ready to hold multilateral talks, which basically means they're folding.

As opposed to the Iraq situation -- in which all the world insisted that the US act "multilaterally" -- most of the usual suspects wanted America to handle North Korea on its own. Why? Because North Korea needs to extort someone in order to survive, and the world would prefer that America handle the pay-off all on its own.

Up until now -- possibly -- North Korea has refused to meet with anyone but the United States, and the US has refused to deal with North Korea without involvement from the other regional powers like Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan. President Bush has been roundly criticized for this strategy, with many of our "allies" warning that our stubbornness could set the unstable North Koreans off and trigger another devastating land war.

However, Bush stood firm; it was a bit of a risk, but it appears that he's called their bluff and that they're ready to engage other nations in addition to the US. That's good, because it means that they've given up on the idea that America is going to resume sending them free oil and food. They might try to extort their neighbors, but they'll have a tough time manipulating the Chinese government, which doesn't much care about what its people or the international community think. The South Koreans have been bribing the North for decades, but I think that the US can bring enough political pressure to bear that it won't happen this time.

Best case: the North Korean government collapses from within as food and oil run out. The conscript army goes home. The UN swoops in and lets China or South Korea take possession of the territory and administer it under UN authority.

Middle case: The world gives in to North Korea and starts sending them food and oil. This isn't a good solution, as millions of North Koreans will continue to starve. The situation would still have to be resolved at some point, and this middle case only delays the inevitable.

Worst case: The government orders some sort of military attack before it collapses. Possibly a land invasion of Seoul, possibly missile strikes at Japan, possibly both. The last thing China wants is a greater US military presence in the region, so China might be forced to invade North Korea from the rear to end the battle decisively. Everyone loses.



Email blogmasterofnoneATgmailDOTcom for text link and key word rates.

Site Info