Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Fallout from the Rice Trip
But, let’s be honest, that is what it is. As the editorial continues:
“The five countries [China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States] have been unanimously adamant in objecting to North Korea’s nuclear test and its possession of nuclear weapons. However, their inability to implement forceful and specific actions against Pyongyang means they have failed to send a strong message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.”
Of course, the Japanese paper is a bit optimistic when it says, "We believe the five nations should implement necessary sanctions ... as swiftly as possible. This should be complemented by an effort to establish cooperative relations among them." (Perhaps shades of the "North East Asia Regional Forum" proposal?)
In seeking Russian cooperation on priority American interests, Russia should be treated in the same way the United States engages other less-than-democratic regimes--for example, China or Saudi Arabia. As these cases suggest, there are significant limits to what any other sovereign power is prepared to do, even when it is eager to please Washington. Russia's willingness to support a military attack against Iran that may expose it to Muslim extremist backlash, particularly in the North Caucasus, will be no greater than China's readiness to support an attack that could destabilize North Korea. Senator McCain is right to suggest that Iran and North Korea should be defining issues in our relations with Moscow and Beijing, respectively. But getting what the United States needs from each will require not only penalties but incentives. So far the American establishment, in both parties, has not been prepared to accept the notion of quid pro quo.
If the United States continues to demand a transformational outcome in Iraq and to give priority to regime change in its approach to Iran and North Korea, it will have neither the energy nor the international support required to pursue a realistic strategy to prevent North Korea and Iran from becoming nuclear weapons states and nuclear weapons making their way into the hands of the Osama bin Ladens of the world. As Churchill observed in the dark days of World War II, when confronting mortal danger, "It is not enough to do one's best. What is required is that one does what is necessary for success."
Since the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs cannot be undone, US must immediately call for one-to-one and un-conditional talks with both North Korea and Iran – to the exclusion of EU, Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea.