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Moment of truth for Korea

The leaders of North Korea and South Korea are meeting in an historic summit as the probability of a deal on North Korean nuclear ambitions increases, Jon Herskovitz reports for Reuters:


The leaders of the Koreas began talks on Wednesday after a cool start to a summit between two countries divided by decades of animosity, but news of a deal on unwinding Pyongyang's nuclear arms program could lift the mood.

South Korea President Roh Moo-hyun has said he wants the summit with Kim Jong-il to ease tension between the states, technically still at war, and help his impoverished neighbor.

The summit comes as the international community is set to agree a deal that should lead to massive aid for the communist North and end its isolation if it finally gives up its ambitions to become a nuclear weapons power.

On Tuesday, Washington said it had approved a tentative deal reached at six-party talks in Beijing that would disable North Korea's Soviet-era nuclear complex by the end of this year.


The whole article is at the link above. The combination of the summit and the pending deal on nukes makes for an important point in post-WWII history. The Korean "conflict" may be close to resolution, with the eventual reunification of the nation divided for sixty years the result.

Korea remains the last unresolved standoff of the Cold War. Rapprochement between the parties, unthinkable until only recently, could bring peace to the peninsula and greater security to the region.

The prospect of 23 million North Koreans, living under starvation conditions with the Communist regime, entering the productive workforce at long last is joyful and inspiring. It would increase by nearly 50% the potential of Korea, South Korea ranking as the 12th largest economy in the world by itself - while North Korea currently produces, by the best-known estimates, roughly 5% as much with nearly half the population.

Of course, such a resolution will not be greeted warmly by the American Left, since it would mean Bush had accomplished what Clinton, Bush the Elder, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Truman had failed to do. While people being forced to eat tree bark and grass to survive doesn't comport with the Left's advertised vision, it represents the inevitable result of the implementation of their policies.


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Comments (19)

I remain suspicious of any ... (Below threshold)

I remain suspicious of any deal with North Korea that doesn't involve either military occupation or saturation nuclear bombing. The tyrants in Pyongyang have demonstrated repeatedly that they worship only power, have no regard for the truth, and will tell any lie, however bald-faced, to pursue their aims. How can South Korea trust them now? How can we?

I've read that the North Ko... (Below threshold)
kim:

I've read that the North Koreans are in fact stupider now, secondary to malnutrition to a developing central nervous system. If so, it should be a temporary effect, since it is not in the genes. As to the effect Marxism had on liberal ideology, one cannot be so sure of the timeframes involved.
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Don't misconstrue temporary... (Below threshold)
kim:

Don't misconstrue temporary effect. Children born after food returns will be smarter than their parents. Adequate nutrition can't help but improve the overall functioning of present NoKos, but it can't reverse the loss of brain potential when they were undernourished in development. Why does explaining this sound so complicated?
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Has anyone really th... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Has anyone really thought this thing through? It's obvious to me that Roh has not:

* If the two Koreas reunite, who gets to lead them? Roh? Kim? or someone else? Remember, when East and West Germany reunified, it was the Bonn government that got relocated to Berlin. Think Kim's gonna give up the gangsta thing he's got going?

* What about the Communists in NoKo as a political entity? In East Germany, Communism fell because its support from the old Soviet Union faded. Think China is going to suddenly stop supporting Communism in Korea?

* As a related issue, who gets to claim they "won" the 60 year old conflict?

East and West Germany merged successfully only after years of teething pains, and only because the Communist political machine in East Germany was pushed away by its people after losing its support from the USSR. Yes, Kim is broke, but his people are not rebelling, and he is very much still in power.

I'm afraid to say, this thing ain't gonna work...

Talk to yourself much, Kim?... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Talk to yourself much, Kim? :) I don't see how anything in that article points to possible reunification. It seems to me that the politicians in the South think they can prop up the economy of the North by pouring money into it. Sorry, that's not the problem. The problem with their economy is the most extreme Stalinism the world has seen. If, IF, there was a reunification, and the North was brought back into the 20th century, the many billions needed to reintegrate the North would be the best money we ever spent. And you know we'd be asked to chip in (well, shoulder the burden, actually).

Talking to myself at least ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Talking to myself at least insures an intelligent conversation, but in this case, you may have been talking to Jim.

Re-unification would have already happened except the Chinese don't want to give up the junk-yard dog they have. Kim's atomic sabre rattling is just a reminder by the Chinese to the Russians, the Taiwanese, the Japanese, and to us as well as the South Koreans, that they have a pit bull on the leash. Why the Chinese have not seized more administrative control, I don't know. Maybe they don't mind seeing Koreans suffer. More likely they don't want to be held responsible for dogbites, like what went down in Syria a month ago.
=======================

Actually, Kim, I was lookin... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Actually, Kim, I was looking at comments 2 and 3, posted at 6:28 and 6:34, where you seemed to be doing a point-counterpoint with your alter-ego. Struck me funny, is all.

Comprendo. Often there is ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Comprendo. Often there is no one else with whom to speak. Thanks for noticing.
============================

Oh, and I agree. A coaliti... (Below threshold)
kim:

Oh, and I agree. A coalition of the functioning democracies, led by us, will fund the rehabilitation of the North, and it will be worth it if the Chinese, who will remain their masters, stay peaceful.
===========================

I have to agree that I don'... (Below threshold)
epador:

I have to agree that I don't trust "diplomatic" efforts. Somehow I think Asians tend to consider "re-unification" more along the lines of Vietnam rather than Germany. That being said, since I live in the NW, directly downwind of a Korean fallout pattern, I'd prefer something other than a nuclear solution.

Hugh, I used 'atomic' previ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Hugh, I used 'atomic' previously instead of 'nukular' to emphasize how primitive the scary weaponry of Kim is. I think it is toy stuff, capable of polluting, and symbolism.
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So the South Koreans are go... (Below threshold)
Oclarki:

So the South Koreans are going to wreck their economy to absorb 20 million emaciated, economically illiterate, backwards citizens in the name of reunification. The South Koreans talk a good game about reunification, but those in power know what a disaster it would be.

Sure, O, but worth it if th... (Below threshold)
kim:

Sure, O, but worth it if their masters remain peaceful. If they turn the NoKos loose it will have to be done, anyway. The free world's wealth is held hostage to the plight of the Koreans. If they wanted to help them, don't you think the Chinese would have done so already?
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Actually, when I was there,... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Actually, when I was there, there were some factories just north of the 38th parallel where North Koreans manufactured goods for South Korean corporations. Roh Moon Hyun (his name is actually pronounced "Noh") is a failed politician keen on making a legacy for himself and rubbing it in the eye of his opposition; the cost of reintegrating however many North Koreans there are (you going to believe their own census data?) will be downloaded onto his successor, which is a straight-up dick move that would be totally in character for the jerk.

The interesting thing about the Korean peninsula is that the ideological separation notwithstanding, Koreans see themselves as one people in a far deeper sense than the Germans or Vietnamese ever did. Capitalism in the ROK has always been a vehicle for race-based (actually "blood"-based) nationalism, and in the DPRK, totalitarianism is in part rationalized in terms of the greater Korean good. (North Koreans are taught that it's only a matter of time before their poor brothers and sisters in the South join their glorious Republic.) It's not a matter of individual liberty vs. the collective good, as it ostensibly was during the Cold War; it's two groups of the same people with the same objective. In fact, South Koreans have a lingering sense of guilt at having opened their society to Western influence whereas their kin to the north can at least say they maintained purity of blood regardless of how many of them starved to death in the process. (Purity of blood is as important to them as it is to the Japanese.) Reunification is what nearly every Korean wants, and the wealthy southerners in Seoul and Busan would be far more amenable to bearing the economic burden of it than one might expect.

As for China? They couldn't give a shit about North Korea so long as they keep their geopolitical dick-waving to a minimum and don't send 5 million refugees across their border.

This is what I learned from a year working in Korea. While we might think the ROK is our ally first and foremost, because of economic philosophy, they actually have a far greater affinity with the DPRK, despite their loathing of L'il Kim. Americans really shouldn't trust the ROK to act in their best interests, not that Koreans should hold American interests about their own.

last sentence: *above* thei... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

last sentence: *above* their own, not *about*

Thanks, that is helpful.<br... (Below threshold)
kim:

Thanks, that is helpful.
======================

Jim I don't understand what... (Below threshold)
SB Ahn:

Jim I don't understand what you mean by: "Of course, such a resolution will not be greeted warmly by the American Left, since it would mean Bush had accomplished what Clinton, Bush the Elder, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Truman had failed to do. While people being forced to eat tree bark and grass to survive doesn't comport with the Left's advertised vision, it represents the inevitable result of the implementation of their policies."

Jim, any progress with NK is proof of the utter failure of the Bush so-called Neocon foreign policy. Bush said that he would never negotiate directly with the member of the "axis of evil" and "sit by and watch them develop a nuclear arsenal." Then Kim detonated his nuclear device and Bush was forced to send his Korean handler Christopher Hill to talk directly with his NK counterpart, one-on-one, to get them to come back to the 6-Party talks. Now Kim has an unknown arsenal of nuclear weapons and a very nice stash of fissile materials somewhere in NK mountain caves. None of these are mentioned in the new agreement. The nuclear facilities that Kim has agreed to close are no longer important to him because he has gotten what he needs from them. This man, whom Bush once called a pygmy, is a genius. He's secured everything he wanted from his nuclear gambit...cowboy Bush is clearly out of his league. Hell, if Kim were leading the so-called "global war on terror," Osama would be calling him "My Dear Leader" and eating Kimchi with his hummus!

So Jim, explain to me what Bush has accomplished?

Bush et al didn't accomplis... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Bush et al didn't accomplish anything as far as Korea goes. Every Korean understands that. The North isn't afraid of Americans at all, and doesn't take Bush Administration threats seriously, because several hundred thousand artillery tubes loaded with chemical and biological weapons pointed at the 22 million residents of metropolitan Seoul will forever deter any intervening power from striking within the DPRK. Any progress in the region has nothing to do with American posturing, because while L'il Kim might not have much regard for human life, he knows that even Cheney couldn't live with the repercussions of a tactical strike against DPRK nuclear facilities. L'il Kim's gonna milk this until he's dead. Hopefully if his son assumes power he'll promptly turn over the deed to the ROK or China or whomever so that he can get back to the blackjack tables in Macau. That guy has demonstrated no interest in continuing his father's and grandfather's legacy.

Here's a good example of how ballsy the DPRK has been. One can't question Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il's cajones, whatever their moral failings may be.

I gotta admit, I'm in the "... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

I gotta admit, I'm in the "Nothing was accomplished" crew.
Non-aggression pacts from stalinists have a bad history.




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