Friday, May 29, 2009

Kim's temper tantrum

North Korea's recent nuclear and missile tests, in my opinion, deserve little more than a collective shrug from the international community. This is simply Kim Jong Il's way of trying to get attention. However, I noticed what might be a rather significant development the other day in an opinion piece co-authored by Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institute and Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. After some criticism of the Obama Administration and lamenting over the dearth of military options they conclude with this:
If we decide to talk again, American diplomacy should expand beyond nuclear talks to begin preparing for the outcome it wants: a democratic, unified and eventually nonnuclear Korea. As Korea expert Andrei Lankov has suggested, America's new approach could include the opening of cultural, educational and economic exchanges with the North. Western experts should be encouraged to teach at North Korean universities; North Koreans should be allowed to study in the West; and the United States, Japan and South Korea should undertake cooperative economic projects in the North. The United States should also open more radio and television broadcasts from South Korea and the West. In short, Washington's diplomacy with North Korea should focus on measures that raise North Koreans' standard of living and exposure to the West.
This is exactly right, and I am pleasantly surprised to see two right-of-center, relatively hawkish members of the foreign policy community endorse such an approach. It's one that I have long called for. The way to bring down the communist regime is to raise up the North Korean people. Even if this approach fails, it still has the virtue of improving human lives rather than further punishing a deeply oppressed people.

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