Thursday, June 29, 2006

North Korean Missile Crisis

North Korea is suspected to launch Taepodong Ⅱ missile, which poses serious threat to Far Eastern nations. This missile test will undermine the Six-Party peace negotiations, and China and Russia express their concerns. Unlike previous missiles, this brand new arsenal can reach American mainland, as shown in the above map.

Since the Clinton era, Kim Jong Il missile has been using nuclear crises to call an attention from the United States, and have bilateral negotiations. Currently, the economy of North Korea is terrible. Since the collapse of COMECON, North Korea has been isolated from the world economy. In order to sustain the current regime, North Korean leaders badly need economic help from the West. This is one of the reasons why Kim Jong Il hopes to talk with the United States.

According to the Korea Times, North Korea is launching Taepodong Ⅱ because “In an analysis, AFP quoted security experts as saying that the North's preparation may be an attempt to grab the attention of a U.S. government distracted by its nuclear row with Iran.” Furthermore, the writer says “the test-fire of a Taepodong-2 type long-range missile that can allegedly reach as far as Alaska. But its range and accuracy are in doubt” (North Korean Missile Test not Imminent, June 13).

However, Kim Jong Il misjudged the consequence of missile test diplomacy. Things are completely different now. The Bush administration learned lessons from the Clinton administration’s North Korea policy. North Korean is good at cheating and deceiving as witnessed in the last missile test. They acquired nuclear fuel while violating non-proliferation agreement. Current US administration is firmly inclined to the six-party talk, instead of bilateral negotiations with North Korea. In Washington Post, Henry A. Kissinger explains this policy as follows:

What Pyongyang is attempting to achieve -- and what the Bush administration has rightly resisted -- is a separate negotiation with Washington outside the six-party framework, which would prevent other parties in the Beijing process from undertaking joint responsibilities. If bilateral talks replaced the six-party forum, some of America's present partners might choose to place the onus for breaking every deadlock on Washington, in effect isolating the United States. (A Nuclear Test for Diplomacy, May 16)

This missile can reach US mainland, which poses much more serious threat to than previous time. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, currently a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says “America’s actions must be decisive. We are faced with a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship about which we know little. It is acting in defiance of all of its own international commitments. The time for talk is over. Either they dismantle the missile or we the United States should dismantle it.”

Former Secretary of State under the Clinton administration William J. Perry and his Assistant Secretary Ashton B. Carter argue even more hardliner.
But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature. A successful Taepodong launch, unopposed by the United States, its intended victim, would only embolden North Korea even further. The result would be more nuclear warheads atop more and more missiles. (“If Necessary, Strike and Destroy” Washington Post, June 22).

In order to deal with increasing threat of North Korea, the US-Japanese partnership is getting more and more closer. The missile interceptor test was successful, and the US-Japanese alliance can impose psychological pressure on North Korea. Though former Secretary of Defense William Perry insists on preemptive attack against North Korea, the Bush administration is willing to continue the six-party efforts. The interceptor test will be a great advantage for current diplomatic negotiations.

South Korea’s position is still ambiguous. This country has been pursuing the “Sunshine Policy” to North Korea. However, the public opinion is turning hostile to the North. Even North Korea’s close allies, China and Russia, raise serious concern over this missile test.
(Seoul, Beijing Seek Dissuade NK from Missile Test, The Korea Times, June 27)

The North Korean dictator must understand the risk of missile test diplomacy. This is not as effective as it was in the past. The US-Japanese alliance is more steadfast against a rogue proliferator. South Koreans gradually understand who the real threat is. Pyongyang must act honestly, or defeated in the end.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Democrats Divided on Iraq

In a previous post, “Liberals Rolling Back?: Center for American Progress”, I have evaluated whether Democrats can govern the United States or not. At this stage, liberals have not shown feasible alternatives on Iraq. The media have been critical to the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. However, this is not an advantage for Democrats, because they are divided on troop withdrawal.

Senator John F. Kerry insists that US troop withdraw from Iraq in 12 month. Majority of Democrats are puzzled with his proposal, because they need to strike a delicate policy balance (See “Kerry upsets his party with Iraq pullout plan” and “Kerry's Iraq plan troubles his party” on June 12, New York Times/International Herald Tribune). According to “For Democrats, a Delicate Balance on Iraq” in Washington Post on June 20, Democrats should be “not too hot on withdrawing U.S. troops quickly, but not so cold as to alienate large numbers of Democratic voters furious about the war and eager to bring the Americans home.”

For this purpose, Senator Jack Reed and Senator Carl M. Levin proposed an amendment to support self-sufficiency of the Iraqi government and police. But liberals and antiwar activists support Kerry’s plan. On the other hand, Republicans are unified with Bush.

People tend to speak of the Iraq “quagmire” without careful consideration. However, this is a double-edged sword for Democrats. Unlike widely believed, Democrats are not in a good position when they attack current Iraq policy. In face of intra-party split, Senator Harry M. Reid said, "One thing Democrats agree on is this war has taken too long, it's too expensive and costs too many lives and too many soldiers injured." Also, Senator Joseph Biden insisted that the United States send Baghdad a strong signal to purge sectarian killers from its security forces and bring more Sunnis into the circles of power ("Democrats Divided on Withdrawal Of Troops", June 21, Washington Post).

In any case, the result of the mid-term election is unpredictable. A mere criticism to the Bush administration’s policy does not help Democrats. They must show feasible alternatives, and be firmly unified. Otherwise, they will not be successful in forthcoming mid-term and presidential elections.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bush Administration Official’s Lecture on US-India Relations

R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State, gave a lecture on US-India relations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was a key negotiator when President Bush and Secretary of State Rice visited India this March. As I mentioned earlier, nuclear issue is the most critical hurdle for new strategic partnership between the United States and India. George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment, points out policy gaps between non-proliferation specialists and grand strategists. Specialists worry that the US-India nuclear deal would undermine current non-proliferation regime. On the other hand, strategists see this agreement a good opportunity for the United States to have India to contain the Sino-Russian axis.

In the lecture, Nicholas Burns presents clues to these questions. (See the video on Windows Media Player and Real Player.) He mentioned that the strategic partnership has been explored since the Clinton era, because the United States needed realignment for post Cold War threats. Burns argued that policymakers should have a grand strategy view on India, instead of speculating nuclear bargains. He says that the United States and India share common interests in the following areas: security, economy, democracy promotion, and pandemic prevention like AIDS.

In security, Burns argues that America and India need each other. The United States pursues global leadership, and India for regional leadership. India exerted positive influences to bring peace and stability in South Asia. India persuaded the king of Nepal to give up power in order to soothe democracy movements. In Sri Lanka, India sponsored the peace talk between the government and the Tamil Tigers, along with the European Union and Japan.

The economy is no less important than security. As Burns says in the lecture, India is one of the fastest growing markets. According to “India outsmarts China” in Foreign Policy, January/February 2006, Indian economy is more prospective than Chinese economy, because it is more brain-intensive than labor-intensive China. India has become the most attractive market for the United States. US high tech companies invest India. Boeing sells their planes. Bilateral relations expand in every sector, from the government, business, to civil society.

Burns says that the Indo-American nuclear agreement must be understood in this context as well as non-proliferation perspectives. A rapidly growing economy, India needs more electricity, and it must diversify energy supply. This country had been isolated for 30 years from the global economy because it was out of non-proliferation regime. However, he says, India has never proliferated while North Korea and Iran violated non-proliferation rules. Considering this gap in the NRT system, he advocates the United States offer technological assistance to peaceful nuclear use in India. The United States can export nuclear equipments. Also, this is helpful to reduce carbon dioxide emission, he says.

On the other hand, he is so careful that he avoided provocative comments. As Henry Kissinger argues, Burns says it is not American interest to use India a counterbalance to China. His viewpoints are different from those of neocons’ who regard India a trustworthy democracy to contain China. As to Iran, he says India can keep relations with this country, as Europe and Japan do. In addition, he stressed new US-Indian strategic partnership would not undermine US-Pakistani relations.

Mostly, Burns is right. The most critical issue is the nuclear deal. Ashley G. Tellis, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment, testifies that this agreement should not be changed through congressional debates, because it is practical. India does not trust NPT, but it is necessary to impose non-proliferation duties on this country. To make it successful, the United States must offer something in return. Also, he insists that the congress not require burdens for the US and Indian governments to change this agreement.

The negotiation is still in progress, as the Times of India reports. The key to pass the debate at the Hill is how far the verification will be carried out under the agreement. For the United States, India has much potential as a market and a strategic partner. However, the bilateral deal must not damage current non-proliferation regime.

See also the Real Truth.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More Input, Please Wait

I have not posted articles these days, because I have lots of unread e-mail alerts. I need more information input.

I will write new posts soon. Please wait. Thank you.

Shah Alex

PS: Albion, the co-writer of this blog, has come back to the US now. He will be writing interesting posts.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

NATO Defense Ministers Meeting and Agendas for the Future

NATO defense ministers meeting will be held on June 8 in Brussels. In the post-Cold War era, NATO forces act outside Europe. The agenda in this meeting will be the key to US strategy and its relations with allies.

Julian Lindley-French, Senior Scholar at the Center for Applied Policy, University of Munich, has contributed an article “For the Crucial Alliance, a Day of Decision” to the International Herald Tribune on May 30.

He says this meeting is important to set the agenda for the summit meeting in Riga this November. In face of increasingly authoritarian and assertive China, and erratic and untrustworthy Russia, NATO must transform itself into a global security alliance. For this objective, he suggests four points to be discussed.

1. Structural interventions:
Be clear about the reason for intervention. The alliance intervenes when democratic security is threatened. A new concept of structural intervention is required to re-energize NATO objectives.

2. Smart organization:
If NATO were to act globally, its forces must be more professional and smaller. It is necessary to strike a balance between rapid reaction and enduring operation to accomplish the mission for stability and reconstruction.

3. Smart transformation:
In face of new threats, like Russia, China, and other smaller autocratic states, NATO must develop a collective military capability. Also, NATO forces must be agile and multinational to adjust themselves to diversified missions.

4. Smart partnerships:
NATO can work with democracies in the Asia Pacific, the Greater Middle East, and Latin America. The June 8 meeting should be the first step toward a big NATO.

The above four points are crucial for American allies outside NATO as well. Japan, Australia, and New Zealand will act with NATO from Suez to the Pearl Harbor. Currently, US forces in Japan are under transformation, and this is a vital issue in Japanese national security. What happens in the Atlantic and the Pacific is strongly interrelated. Also, some like India, aspiring for a strategic partnership with the United States, needs to pay attention to issues discussed at the ministers meeting.

They are agendas for American global strategy, not only for the transatlantic alliance.