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Thursday, January 31, 2002

Eye's a-callin' you out, Kim. You shure look yeller- Mr. Slotman at the IRB is debating what to do with North Korea, whether it is better to help them, avoiding a cornered-animal response, or to let them stew in their own natural juices until the Dear Leader is shown the door. This Asian Times piece that Justin cites mentions a below-the-radar item: large refugee movements from North Korea into China. I did hear that story on NPR a few months back (their international coverage makes the [expletive-deleted] domestic coverage bearable). The Cold Warrior in me says to crank that crock-pot up to high and keep the lid on. In addition, the realpolitik side says that rewarding people for saber rattling only encourages goonishness; paying them to not develop nukes and nuke-bearing ICBMs sounds more like blackmail than foreign aid. Unlike Cuba, whose global influence went down the tubes when their Soviet sugar daddy went bye-bye, North Korea is still a player. We need to err on the side of containing North Korea. It is hard to see famine and not do something. The Cold Warrior in me cringed when I saw Assemblies of God aid workers sending food over there, indirectly helping out one of the most thuggish regimes on the planet. The compassionate side approved, but that realpolitik side wondered if the greater good, for North Korea and the rest of the planet, was to keep the screws on Pyongyang. Sanctions on Cuba were done so that the Russians had to give more help to prop up Castro, thus giving the USSR less money to do mischief elsewhere. We can afford to take a second look at Cuba and ask, "What is in the best interest of Cubans?” since Castro's days as a global player are all-but-over. However, North Korea, despite their poverty, is still a player, and the poor citizens of the PDRK will have to take it in the neck because of it. As a teenager, I remember wanting a foreign policy that had the peacemaker's heart of Jimmy Carter coupled with the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger. Those two are having at it in my mind over North Korea, and Hank's winning for now.

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