Monday, May 24, 2010

Credit where credit is due

President Obama deserves a bit of praise for his latest message to North Korea.  Rather than using his typically weak diplomacy of backing down and abandoning our allies he stepped up and backed South Korea in the recent escalation of tensions:

The U.S. and South Korea are planning two major military exercises off the Korean Peninsula in a display of force intended to deter North Korean acts like the March torpedo attack on a South Korean warship.

President Barack Obama ordered his military commanders to coordinate closely with their South Korea counterparts "to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression" by North Korea, the White House said.

The attack against the ROKS Cheonan occurred in South Korean waters, claimed 46 lives, and sunk the corvette.  In the typical narcissistic fashion Kim Jong-il has risked a war he cannot win and humanitarian aid he can't afford to lose for the sake of establishing his son's position as heir apparent.  Sanity has never really been his strong suit, but I suppose its brilliant in it's own insane way.

Both South Korea and America have responded well:

“If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are militarily violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense,” Lee said in an address to the nation, televised live Monday morning.

“From this moment, no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control, which has been allowed by the Inter-Korean Agreement on Maritime Transportation,” Lee said. “The sea routes meant for inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation must never again be used for armed provocations.”

“In close consultations with the nations concerned, the government will refer this matter to the UN Security Council, so that the international community can join us in holding the North accountable,” Lee said. “Many countries around the world have expressed their full support for our position.”

“Trade and exchanges between the Republic of Korea and North Korea will also be suspended,” Lee said.

“However, we will continue to provide assistance for infants and children,” he said. “Matters pertaining to the Kaesong Industrial Complex will be duly considered, taking its unique characteristics into consideration.”

America followed South Korea's lead by rattling the saber a bit and ordering our troops to prepare in case things go bad.  I'm not quite sure if Obama would actually carry through in a war with North Korea, but the point is that Obama actually used a diplomatic strategy that makes sense.  North Korea has never shown a willingness to listen to reason if there's not a gun pointed at them, and that seems to be the way all regimes like North Korea operate.  They're not particularly interested in compromise or being anything short of murderously insane, and from their standpoint that makes sense.  Their goals directly conflict with ours, so compromise would gain them nothing they want.

His actions also send a promising message to all of our allies and enemies.  Though more work will be required to undo the extensive damage he's wrought by abandoning our Eastern European allies, taking a soft stance on Iran, and treating Great Britain poorly; it's a good start.  Allies who believe you're reliable are much more likely to cooperate and back you, and enemies who think you'll strike them are much less likely to cause problems.

Obama needs to remember all of this and carry on this momentum in the diplomatic actions to come.  When we push for UN sanctions we need to make a big deal of it and force China into thinking it has to back us.  We're still the world's most powerful nation, and we still have enough influence to get the rest of the world to punish some backwards, belligerent, communist dictatorship.  We really can't afford not to.

No comments:

Post a Comment