Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 19, 2011
Reports from North Korea this weekend indicate that its long-term leader, Kim Jong Il died of December 17. Kim’s health had been in question since suffering a stroke in 2008. He had been dictator of North Korea since the death of his father in 1994, North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung. Early in his tenure included a power struggle for three years that caused chaos and crisis within the country.
It is reported that during 2010, Kim Jong Il let it be known that he is third son, Kim Jong Un, was his designated successor. Kim Jong Un has little experience running the country and more importantly no military experience, although he was given the title of Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers Party of Korea and was recently made a four-star general. This is an important point since the support of the military will be key in determining whether Kim Jong Un can ultimately gain and hold absolute power in North Korea.
Western experts can do little more than guess as to the ultimate outcome of the power shift in North Korea that is to come. This Communist country is one of the most secretive and repressive in the world. Its people are poor and there had been reports of starvation in North Korea in recent years.
North Korea is a failed state that in the past has been held together by its two totalitarian and god-like leaders. More recently it has extorted assets from Western countries as a result of war threats and its ability to use nuclear weapons. It also receives substantial help from China.
There are varied outcomes possible with the death of Kim Jong Il. The most obvious is that the status quo will continue for seven years in the future. Another possibility is a prolonged process possibly violent power struggle between Kim Jong Un and other Communist politicians and/or the military.
North Korea is an operating, but failed state. Without the support of China it could not survive. It is likely that some day in the future there will be unification on the Korean Peninsula. Hopefully it will come via a peaceful transition as we saw in Germany. However, the Chinese would like to see the status quo continue. It fears a stronger and westernized Korea against its southern border as that would be against its strategic interests.
Posted in North Korea | Tagged: China, Dead, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong-Il, Military, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers Party of Korea | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 1, 2010
When American presidents leave the Office they often leave behind a legacy that includes positive and negative attributes. Often, as time moves on, history becomes kinder to these retirees, focusing more on the positive attributes. One needs look no further than George W. Bush to observe this cleansing via history. Jimmy Carter, however, bucks the trend.
Many still believe that Jimmy Carter was America’s worst president of the past century. This perception has withstood the test of time in part because Carter continues to spew out anti-American and anti West rhetoric. He has done it once again, this time relating to North Korea.
Carter sees himself as a self-anointed world diplomat for trouble spots around the globe. This is delusional. While he has traveled to various hotspots from North Korea to the Middle East, not one these areas are less problematic after his visit. Just the opposite; it can be argued that when an ex-American president visits countries run by despots, he offers these dictators legitimacy.
North Korea is a pariah in the modern world, a country that Carter has visited in the past. This year they have sunk a South Korean warship killing 46, got caught building an illegal nuclear enrichment plant, and just killed some South Korean soldiers and civilians with an artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong island. So what does Progressive Carter have to say about this? He has called for bilateral talks with North Korea, which he then states requires the United States to show “respect”. Carter justifies this gibberish saying: “Leaders in Pyongyang consider South Korea’s armed forces to be controlled from Washington and maintain that South Korea was not party to the 1953 cease-fire.”
Jimmy Carter’s lame logic is to respond to North Korea’s atrocities and breach of international law by showing them “respect”. Remarkably naïve. No wonder the Iranians took the American embassy hostages when he was in office. If there was ever a case for impeachment-in-absentia (post retirement), Jimmy Carter has made it.
Posted in Jimmy Carter, North Korea | Tagged: Hostages, Iranians, Jimmy Carter, North Korea, president, South Korea | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 23, 2010
Our November 20 posting, Secret North Korean Nuclear Plant Goes Public, reviewed the strategic challenges the West faces with the rouge state of North Korea. It suggested using out-of-the-box pressure on China to end the North’s nuclear ambitions. That included the threat of assisting China’s regional foes in their nuclear programs should China not become a real partner in putting to an end the North Korean nuclear problem.
Today the Korean problem escalated further with the North’s shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeongdo in the Yellow Sea. South Korean solders were killed and others wounded. The South responded with return fire and scrambled jets.
It is not by accident that North Korea is challenging the West at this time. They, like many countries, see Barack Obama as a weak leader who does not fully comprehend strategic balances or the important role the United States and its power has played in controlling rouge nations over the decades. They likely view the recent midterm elections as further weakening Obama and limiting his options.
While Obama’s now owns this Korean problem, he did not create it. For decades the world has allowed North Korea to act illegally and immorally, turning a blind eye to ever increasing infractions of international law. As a result, the danger has grown as the North acquired weapons of mass destruction. If there was ever an argument justifying preemptive action, the North Korean saga is it. The world’s unwillingness to confront the North Korean’s years ago is directly responsible for a larger crisis toady, one that might include the use of nuclear weapons.
Posted in North Korea, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: China, Island, North Korea, Obama, South Korea, UNited States, Yellow Sea, Yeonpyeongdo | 2 Comments »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 20, 2010
The New York Times just broke a story with serious implications for President Obama’s foreign policy and the world’s safety. American scientist, Siegfried S. Hecker of Stanford University, visited North Korea and was shown a huge facility built in secret and designed to enrich uranium, a key ingredient in atomic bombs. This facility will give the North Korea the ability to build more and larger bombs. Hecker stated that he was “stunned” by the plant’s sophistication.
George W. Bush called North Korea part of the Axis of Evil. Barack Obama believes that by singing Kumbaya with thugs like the North Koreans that we can negotiate our way towards living peacefully together. Since becoming President, Obama’s olive branch has resulted in the North Koreans setting off another atomic bomb, their sinking of a South Korean vessel, and now the acknowledgement of this new huge facility that can only be used for bad intent. It is clear that Obama’s approach was naïve and at best no better than the more belligerent approach used by Bush. North Koreans have become even more belligerent with Obama’s appeasement approach.
North Korea will ultimately have to be dealt with by the free-world. Unfortunately, given their procession of nuclear weapons and thousands of artillery pieces pointed at Seoul in close proximity, America’s options are limited.
The only country with leverage on the North Koreans is China who supplies this failed state with food and other necessities. The Chinese, however, will not pressure North Korea until it is in their best interest. This reality is where America must focus its efforts. Here’s an out of the box solution. Let’s stop the sanctions and threats that haven’t worked in the past and will not work going forward. In private acknowledge to the Chinese that America can take no direct action against the North Koreans, a fact the Chinese already know. However, we should also inform them that if they do not disarm the North Koreans of the nuclear weapons within a defined period of time, we will then assist our allies in the region in obtaining these same WMD’s. A nuclear Japan would get China’s attention.
Nuclear non-proliferation is a noble idea. However, only countries that wouldn’t use them would sign up for no nukes. Rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea see nukes as their only option for survival in the long-term. Stopping less belligerent countries like Japan and Jordan from having nukes only makes it more likely that Iran and North Korea want to obtain them. Without their regional adversaries having nukes, MAD (Mutually Assure Destruction) that made nukes worthless to the United States and Russia, would not exist for these rogue regimes. It’s time to rethink the Nuclear non-proliferation idea given its failure with the world’s most dangerous regimes.
Posted in North Korea, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: Atomic Bomb, China, Japan, MAD, Mutually Assure Destruction, North Korea, Nuclear Plant, Obama, Siegfried S. Hecker, WMDs | 1 Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 22, 2010
Stratfor ( www.stratfor.com ) is a well-respected source of information on American foreign policy and international relations. They recently posted a video report (link provided below) on strains between the United States and South Korea that deserves attention.
On May 26 2010, this Blog included a posting titled: “North Korea Sinks South Korean Ship”. That week North Korea torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel in international waters killing 46 of its sailors. It was clear by this provocative act that the North was testing President Obama’s “backbone”. His response has not been promising.
Initially the United States indicated that it would send a naval armada to the Yellow Sea for a joint military exercise with South Korean as a display of power and warning to North Korea. After the Chinese protested, America blinked, delaying the exercise and moving it to the East Sea. Now the South Koreans are nervous about America’s commitment to them.
Of more concern is how the North Koreans (and Chinese) will view Obama’s indecisive response. History demonstrates that indecisiveness often leads one side to miscalculate the other’s resolve and this has led to even more dangerous confrontations.
The Obama Administration has shown a strange tendency in its relations with our strongest allies. Relations have been strained with our strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel, as well as our strongest ally in Europe, England. Now South Korea has its concerns. This is not a pattern that instills confidence in America’s foreign policy.
Stratfor Video – South Korea and the United States
Posted in Foreign Policy, North Korea, South Korea | Tagged: America, Chinese, East Sea, England, Israel, Naval, North Korea, Obama, South Korea, Torpedo, Yellow Sea | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 26, 2010
We have received a thought-provoking response to yesterday’s posting related to North Korea’s torpedoing a South Korean naval vessel killing over 30 sailors (North Korea Sinks South Korean Ship). A reader took umbrage to this Blog’s criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy and blaming his policies for the belligerent actions of North Korea and Iran.
Posted below is this Blog’s response and criticism received. The exchange shows one difference between those that see America as the problem and those that see it as the solution.
OK, you asked a question that I assume wasn’t meant to be rhetorical so I’ll answer it.
“What do you suggest President Obama does to handle Iran and North Korea?” First Obama needs to start treating our friends like allies and enemies like adversaries. His Kumbaya approach to foreign policy has failed. The bad guys are more belligerent since the election and that is in response to his policies. They are testing a president that they see as weak and that has increased the likelihood of conflict, not decreased it. Wars occur when one side misjudges the other side. That is occurring with North Korea and Iran.
As for your comment: “Starting a war with either country (especially Iran) is not a viable option given the current state of our military and the lack of public support for another war”, is the reasoning England and France used in 1937 when confronted with and aggressive Nazi Germany. Had the western powers started the war against Hitler in 1937, tens of millions would have been spared. Thus the appeasers have culpability in what came.
Finally, it’s time to stop making excuses for Obama’s failures such as: “What did G.W. Bush do to crack down on Iran and North Korea that Obama has backed off on?” Obama should not be judged by his predecessors’ failures. He ran on a platform for foreign policy that promised a safer world with his diplomatic approach. Obama has not met that promise and needs to be held accountable. He got plenty of passes on his poor judgment before the election. It’s time to stop the whining. He is the president and the buck stops with him.
Readers Criticism of Enduringsense’s Posting
What do you suggest President Obama does to handle Iran and North Korea? Starting a war with either country (especially Iran) is not a viable option given the current state of our military and the lack of public support for another war. China and Russia have denied harsher sanctions from the UN for both countries as well. Obama’s options seem limited at this point.
What did G.W. Bush do to crack down on Iran and North Korea that Obama has backed off on? North Korea and Iran have been building nuclear weapons for years, not just since Obama came into office. I think the problem is that both countries have us between a rock and a hard place and they know it. They can afford to make demands and engage in the saber-rattling that they are so fond of.
Posted in Diplomacy, North Korea, President Obama | Tagged: G. W. Bush, Germany, Hitler, Iran, Navy, Nazi, North Korea, Obama, South Korean, Soviet Union, Torpedo, UN, Vessel, Wars | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 24, 2010
A few years ago President George Bush named three countries in the “Axis of Evil” including Iraq, Iran and North Korea. While an awkward president, Bush did understand evil, something our current President doesn’t. Candidate and later President Obama promised that if we would talk nice to our foes and understand their positions that diplomatic resolution to international problems would result. They have not.
While the war Bush started in Iraq was ill-advised, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was evil, butchering its own people and starting bloody wars with neighbors. It will be up to history to determine whether the Iraqi people and the world are better for Bush’s adventure.
Iran run by the radical Islamic mullahs is also evil. For decades this country has been a state supporter of terrorism, brutally repressed its citizens and is a danger to the greater Middle East. The greatest threat to world peace in this decade would be Iran that goes nuclear.
The final country in Bush’s triumvirate is North Korea. It has broken international treaties to become a nuclear power. Its population is brutally repressed and many have starved to keep the tyrant Kim Jong-Il in power.
With the exception of Iraq, whose character was changed by the invasion, the two remaining countries in the Axis of Evil have become even more belligerent since the election of Barack Obama. Iran continues down the path of acquiring nuclear weapons and has violently put down domestic protest in its country. They have rejected Obama’s Kumbaya overtures.
Korea has gone even further in the past year, setting of an additional nuclear bomb in response to Obama’s diplomatic outreach. More recently they torpedoed a South Korean ship killing 46 sailors. The Financial Times reported that investigators have concluded that the ship was torpedoed on March 26 by North Korean.
It is evident that North Korea is questioning President Obama’s and South Korea’s backbone. Should they not be up to this challenge, we should expect even more significant and dangerous conformations with North Korea, as well as other thugs around the world.
Bullies have one thing in common. If they get their way from bullying they become even more emboldened. The choice is not whether or not to confront bullies, but who will choose the time and the place for the confrontation. Since Obama has proven naïve in international relations it is likely that the United States will have to absorb additional punishment before reacting appropriately.
Posted in North Korea, Politics | Tagged: Axis of Evil, Bomb, Bullies, Gearge W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Kim Jong-Il, Middle East, Mullahs, North Korea, Nuclear, Obama, Saddam Hussein, Ship, South Korean, Torpedo | 5 Comments »