What To Do About North Korea?

Bird Dog, writing on Tactitus’ blog has an interesting post about what should be done with North Korea. His suggestions:

1. Start a PR campaign on the atrocities. Compile the stories. Demand access.
2. Play hardball at the negotiating table. No agreements without complete verification. Don’t appease.
3. Get word to the North Korean people. Start a groundswell, foment a revolution. Airdrop millions of pamphlets and solar-powered, wind-up radios.
4. Give refuge to escapees, and encourage South Korea, Japan and China to do the same. Like with Cuba, if they set foot on American soil, they’re automatically in.
5. Open travel to North Korea (we should do that with Cuba, too).
6. Give food aid, but only directly.
7. If Kim doesn’t play ball and starts getting belligerent, give a few nukes to South Korea and Japan, as well as the means of delivering them. Yes, mutually assured destruction. Kim will then know that if he tries something, South Korea will change from a peninsula to an island.
8. Although they also have problems with democracy, encourage China to turn the screws on Kim.
9. As Woolsey and McTierney suggested, no options should be taken off the table.

I agree with pretty much every one of these solutions, with the exceptions of numbers 5 and 6. Food aid sounds valuable from a humanitarian perspective, but as the UN oil-for-food program demonstrated if there is no significant oversight that food aid ends up going to those who would support the regime rather than those truly need it.

Tourism operates under similar principles. Castro has been using Potemkin Villages for European tourists to convince them that the human right abuses of his regime are little more than trumped up charges by the US (a lie that is far too easily swallowed by far too many). Instead of alleviating the situation, it could very well empower the Kim Jung Il regime – the last thing that the world needs.

As undesirable as the idea of MAD sounds, it is the best way of reducing tensions in the region. The threat of a nuclear-enabled Japan and South Korea would not only put pressure on North Korea, but also on China. China has every interest in avoiding such a scenario, and it is likely that the Bush Administration may have already dangled this threat over Beijing in order for them to encourage the North Koreans to be more conciliatory.

The goal of these steps is to simultaneously empower the North Koreans while putting pressure on the totalitarian regime in Pyongyang. With the Chinese People’s Liberation Army already deployed along the Yalu River between China and North Korea, the DPRK knows that it if they push too hard, they risk complete anihilation. No doubt Kim Jung Il have seen what has already happened to one member of the "Axis of Evil" and is starting to read the writing on the wall.

The only thing I would add to this list is the deployment of theatre-level anti-ballistic missile defenses to Japan and South Korea. Kim Jung Il is undoubtedly insane, and there is always the chance that even the knowledge that any nuclear strike will lead to immediate and total destruction will not be enough to deter him. In such a case it is absolutely necessary to have some way of preventing nuclear catastrophe. Even if it means selling advanced Aegis cruisers with boost-phase interception systems to Japan or South Korea (a move that will be sure to anger China) it is necessary to protect Seoul and Tokyo from nuclear attack. By defanging the tiger and working to isolate Kim Jung Il’s murderous regime, there may be hope that the incredible and dire human rights situation in North Korea can be fixed.

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