Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Send in the Clown

"Isn't it rich?" asks the song.

The former head of the Asia Division of the CIA's Clandestine Service--the black arm of the world's most sprawling and powerful intelligence service -- cries now to the unblinking heavens that the Administration's removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terror hangs the Japanese government out to dry.

Not only will our taking North Korea off the state-sponsored terrorist list strengthen the regime and reward those minimal responses, it is a direct blow to our strongest ally in the region, Japan, which believes it had at least 13 (and possibly dozens more) citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and '80s.

Resolving this abductee issue goes to the fundamental integrity of the Japanese government. If the situation were reversed, and Americans were grabbed off a dark Florida beach by a Cuban patrol boat, we would go to war to bring them home.

But America has pledged to protect Japan in return for the Japanese forgoing offensive arms. Taking the Japanese abductees off the negotiating table while leaving North Korea with its existing weapons may cause Tokyo to question the utility of that pledge. North Korea’s missiles can’t hit us, but Japan is well within the kill zone.

No one should imply that North Korea is an easy nut to crack. Smart folks on both sides of the domestic political aisle have struggled with this challenge. North Korea has shown no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons, and we are unfortunately not in a position to either force or entice it to do so. Despite all the spin out of the talks among the six concerned parties — China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States — there is no reason to honestly assume North Korea will ever give up its nuclear capability.

But things are not made any better by pretending that we are making progress, as Washington seems to have decided to do, or by ignoring the real concerns of our allies. Our approach to North Korea calls for a lot more honesty and, in the eyes of those with more at risk, a greater dose of sincerity. There is more at stake here than just North Korean bombs.
One would have thought that telling the Bush Administration in no uncertain terms that wrapping up North Korea inside a package called the Axis of Evil, then having the U.S. military overthrow the government of one member of the Axis, would make it impossible to stop North Korea (and Iran too) from embarking on accelerated nuclear weapons development path.

One would have thought that shutting down A. Q. Khan's clandestine sales network of uranium enrichment technology, part of which purportedly sent a series of care packages to the DPRK, before February 2004 would have been a fantastic thing to do.

Either of those two actions (oh, action...why are you so hard to do?) would have significantly contributed to an increase in Japan's current security.

But I suppose that Mr. Brown had other priorities.

"Resolving this abductee issue goes to the fundamental integrity of the Japanese government."

Give me a break, please.

Resolving the abductee issue goes to the fundamental legitimacy of a certain subdivision within the Japanese political elite, one which is strangely and quite transparently attracted to the purchase and deployment of weapons systems as a means of bringing order and security to East Asia solving Japan's security dilemmas.

Excuse me, Mr. Brown...but what were U.S. taxpayers paying you to do during the 25 years you spent inside the CIA? Oh, I am sure Mr. Brown did his duty.

But since he was one of the principals in the development and implementation of a totally failed set of policies, why can he not maintain a decent silence as his successors try to salvage something from the havoc wreaked?


Hattip to NP for pointing out this New York Times op-ed to me.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if it isn't a good idea for Japan to start more responsibility for its own security considering that the U.S. seems politically unwilling to live up to its promises.

Anonymous said...

What has Japan done to deal with North Korea?

Hasn't Japan consistently hung it's own kidnapped citizens out to dry (and die)?

What did Japan do in response to Kimilsunkimjongilguk's blatant acts of aggression?

Perhaps Japan and the ROK need to be reminded that DPRK is their neighbor, not America's.

If South Koreans and Japanese are so insistent on getting US forces out of their countries, I say give them what they want and let's hope they don't choke on it.

MTC said...

brianakira -

Interesting questions. Perhaps you can answer them on your blog.

Pax vobiscum.