By now, it’s fairly much a given that Kim Jong Il’s thugocracy has test detonated its first nuclear device. This is a significant and grave development for the region and for the world. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have spent today calling for bi-lateral talks between the United States and “North Korea”. This is a horrible idea and here’s why.
First, the United States does not, should not and must not recognize the state of “North Korea”. “North Korea” is not a state. It is a thugocracy. It is a thugocracy overseen by Kim Jong Il. He rules by terror and starvation. Integral to this thugocracy is a band of thugs incorrectly referred to as “armed forces”. Calling these thugs, terrorists and murderers members of “armed forces” is an affront to all persons of legitimate states who wear their country’s uniform and serve in true “armed forces”. Bilateral interaction between the U.S. and Kim’s thugocracy would imply a de facto recognition of Kim’s thugocracy as a legitimate state.
Second, bilateral negotiation implies something exchangeable to be traded for a mutual benefit. The north Korean region is gripped in some of the most pitiful, grinding poverty on the planet. We may never know how many people starved to death. Most likely it is a safe bet the number is high. “North Korea” produces nothing that our country wants or needs, thus negating the need for any negotiations since there is nothing that can be exchanged.
Third, even if “North Korea” could exchange something, Kim’s thugocracy has repeatedly demonstrated untrustworthiness. Just ask Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright. In fact, a good argument can be made that Clinton appeasement has brought us to this day. Quite simply, we cannot negotiate with parties of bad faith.
Fourth, Kim is a tyrant via the classical standard. History’s lesson is clear. One, we can deal with Kim now while his nuclear capability is still very limited. Two, we can deal with him when his nuclear arsenal has him armed to the teeth. We went through this with Hitler.
In closing, if there ever was a case for “staying the course” this is it. The United States should immediately withdraw from the Six Party Talks. Naturally, the Adminstration should adamantly refuse all requests for bilateral negotiations. Next, the Administration must move decisively to completely and totally economically isolate “North Korea”. It is true that Kim and his thugs care not for their people. However, with no incoming capital, Kim will be unable to pay his high level generals. These high level generals are accustomed to a rather extravagant standard of living. Once this standard of living is threatened it is very possible that the regime’s seeds of implosion will be planted. Such regime change is slow. It requires a stamina not easily maintained. But it is internal regime change. Despite limited historical analysis, internal regime change requires a country to pull itself by its bootstraps. Sometimes that bootstrap pull takes a very long time but with more substantial results.