Monday, April 8, 2013

North Korea dominates "Meet The Press"

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North Korea's brinkmanship was front and center on NBC's Meet The Press this Sunday, with Republican US Senator Lindsay Graham praising President Obama's handling of the crisis and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who has been point man for several administrations for dealing with Pyongyang, providing perspective on what's going on and what can be done about it.  

Quoting Senator Graham (transcript here):
I think what bothers me the most is that the tolerance in South Korea for this kind of provocation is greatly-- is-- you know, they’re-- they’re not going to put up with this anymore. If there were a South Korean naval vessel sunk this year, anytime soon, or a shelling of North-- South Korean Island by North Korea, I think the new president of South Korea would be compelled to act. I think the North Koreans are overplaying their hands. And this administration has acted responsibly. I’m glad we’re not doing the ballistic missile test. I’m glad we had the B-2s in the theater where they could see them. I’m glad we’re telling our allies South Korea and Japan, we literally have your back. And the North Koreans need to understand if they attack an American interest or an ally of this country, they’re going to pay a heavy price.
Quoting Governor Richardson:
I think Kim Jong-un is playing to three audiences, and this is why he’s doing these provocative acts. And by the way, Andrea was with me on one of the eight trips I did. First, he’s playing to the North Korean generals. They run the show, the military. He’s playing to the Korean workers party, the leadership there. Secondly, he’s playing to his own people. He got burned by that missile test that failed, and he feels he has the buttress his domestic standing. And I think the third thing that he’s doing is he’s testing the new South Korean president. Every years-- every five years or so when a new South Korean president comes in, North Korea does a provocative act so the issue is what do we do about it. I think what we’ve done in terms of the military posture, the stealth activity makes sense but I think eventually there’s going to have to be some diplomacy and the six-party talks I don’t think are working. I think China has to be the key. We have to really get them to lean on North Korea. But I think a new diplomatic track is needed. Some out of the box diplomacy involving the U.N., the World Bank, some special envoys outside of government, because I think we need to get to this new young leader who I don’t think is calling the show but nonetheless because it’s a (Unintelligible), because he is nominally in charge, is probably the key player there.
I'm not sure how that jives with "Plan B," but an effective mix of carrot and stick could work, as long as you remember the stick and have the guts to use it at the risk of pissing off Beijing, Pyongyang's benefactor.


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