Monday, April 12, 2010

Stating (And Missing) The Obvious

In an unsigned editorial, Fred Hiatt and his crew share this insight about North Korea:
There's debate over whether [inducements from China] would be useful in restarting diplomacy or unhelpful in easing the pressure that alone might someday spur a deal [on denuclearization of North Korea]. What's most likely is that it doesn't matter: that the North Korean regime will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has nothing else -- no legitimacy at home or abroad. As in Iran, the problem is the regime more than the weapons. That's not an argument against engagement with Kim Jong Il any more than with the mullahs. It is an argument for clear-eyed engagement, though -- with a recognition that in the long run only a change in the nature of North Korea's government is likely to solve this problem.
And thus we create a circle - absent regime change, nations like North Korea and Iran will continue their nuclear weapons programs... because the possession of nuclear weapons pretty much ensures that they won't be invaded by the nations seeking to effect regime change. It's easy to cheer for regime change when you are speaking of one of the worst governments on the planet, but its not realistic to expect that sabre rattling will inspire North Korea to give up its nuclear program (or its chemical weapons, or its fortified conventional arsenal that's positioned to devastate Seoul in the event of a western attack).

But what if we achieve regime change? As Dan Larison frequently points out in relation to Iran, there's no reason to take on faith that a new regime will be any less interested in pursuing a nuclear weapons program, and there are plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with being "evil" that might impel a successor regime to continue its program.

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