Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea: Blackmailing the World

Blackmailing the World
North Korea on the Loose!

Ali Asghar Kazemi
October 9, 2006

Finally the North Korean junta surrendered to the foolish obsession of becoming a nuclear power by detonating its first nuke amidst global denunciation. This was done despite all the appeals made at different levels by world leaders, organizations and institutions. Indeed, North Korea has deceived the entire international community by crossing the red-line and jumping beyond the threshold of world tolerance. Few countries have praised and justified the North Korean undertaking as legitimate act on the ground that it was threatened by foreign powers.

We don’t intend to delve into the legal aspect of this venture here but we want to make a few comments on the rationale of such a perception that by possessing a few nuclear bombs an authoritarian rule can continue to survive and subjugate its people.

The Nuclear Obsession

There is no doubt that the North Korean leaders have a good knowledge and feeling about what is going on in the world and in their neighboring states, especially South Korea and Japan. But apparently they prefer to close their eyes to the bitter facts about the somber and deplorable conditions of their people. God knows how much money and national resources have been devoted to the nuclear project; while the poor North Koreans are in dire need to acquire their daily subsistence.

I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with North Korean diplomats in several occasions at the United Nations. They were really behaving like a robot with limited intelligence and initiative. We were among the very few delegates they would approach and talk through an interpret. They were always erring in complete confusion around the UN hallways looking for the conference room they wanted to attend. They were always silent at the sessions and their main preoccupation was to watch closely South Korean smart diplomats and delegates. They are indeed the typical product of a closed society whose rulers are still blindly attached to the obsolete ideology of communism.

Assuming that now North Korea has the nuclear capability, including a dozen warheads and the necessary vehicles or long range missiles to carry them to the North American continent, then so what? Is this going to solve any problem of the poor North Korean People? Is this really the true manifestation of national sovereignty and political independence? Or would their arrogant leaders use this leverage to blackmail the others to give them assistance to continue their dictatorship?

The Limits to Nuclear Power

Realistically looking at the matter, acquiring a handful of nuclear weapons has no operational or deterrent values. On the contrary, such a venture would turn a nation’s friends into foes and increase its vulnerability vis-à-vis its potential adversaries. The truth that the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons NPT of July 1, 1968, is not necessarily for the sake of saving mankind from the danger of devastation and annihilation but merely to preserve the monopoly of a handful powers to nuclear technology, does not make any change in our argument.

To be sure, the old Soviet Union had the capacity to destroy the whole world thousand times, but we witnessed how the “Evil Empire” collapsed by the wind of change and democratic awareness like a rotten tree. World public opinion is well aware of the nature and intentions of the remaining totalitarian rules around the world. Those who wish to follow the suit of North Korean tyrants should wake up from their sweet dream that they can continue to deceive the world by hiding behind the subjugated peoples who have no mean to make their voice heard or rise against the dictators.

The main objective of nuclear weapons during the cold war has been their deterrent power as leverage in political and strategic dealings. India and Pakistan crossed the red-line without much reprimand and political consequences but, after September 11, the situation has changed drastically. The new configuration of the world does not leave any room to compromise on the risk of nuclear proliferation. Now there is a global consensus against a nuclear capability in the hands of undemocratic and irresponsible regimes.

How to Deal with the Curse?

The world, and the United States in particular, main strategic dilemma now is how to deal with countries such as North Korea and those who potentially want to follow its path. The idea “axis of evil” which came into political jargon, including Iran along with North Korea and Iraq, was to deter any intention of acquiring a nuclear capability. But, there seem to be some loopholes in this strategy. Indeed, the desire to eradicate terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, despotism, poverty and disease, and thereby makes the world a safer place to live, is commendable and wonderful ideals. But all these could run against the belief that they can be fulfilled by military means.

Military power alone does not enhance national security and national interests. It may even lead to insecurity and provoke fear. It has become more and more clear that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can be safely entrusted with the responsibility of bringing about peaceful change or interpreting and making international security. Thus, unilateral assumption of shaping world order by a single state is likely to jeopardize international peace and security.

The ways and means that statesmen and generals in Washington are using to promote American security against terror and intolerance do more on the whole to promote world disorder and insecurity. Therefore, national security and national interests need to be rigorously redefined and reexamined in current world affairs. This is especially true for regimes such as North Korea which feel insecure and vulnerable in the new world strategic environment.

The “Domino Effect”

Now that North Korea has detonated its first nuke, the global attempt would be to contain the action to go on the loose in a “domino effect.” Perhaps the very immediate repercussion will show up in the current debate of 5+1 powers about Iran’s nuclear case. Despite varying speculations on the matter, it is expected that the United States and EU will harden their position vis-à-vis Iran in the coming days and weeks. This would eventually be manifested in the Security Council where Iran’s nuclear dossier is being handled for application of sanctions under article 41 of the UN Charter.

Apparently, thus far preventive diplomacy did not bring its intended results because Iran’s intransigence. Let’s hope that the neo-conservative hawks will not embark on pre-emptive strike on the foolish ground of self-defense or any other justification of this kind; since such an action is susceptible to put the whole Middle East region on fire.

We shall discuss on this important topic in the coming days.

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