How do you solve a problem like North Korea?

The international community’s impotent rage over Kim Jong-un’s increasingly provocative actions underlines diplomacy’s bankruptcy

The chronic failure of diplomacy to resolve the long-running North Korea problem, dramatised by Tuesday’s tit-for-tat “hostage taking” by Malaysia and Kim Jong-un’s outlawed regime, is accelerating the militarisation of a conflict that threatens to suck in the US, China and other east Asian countries.

North Korea’s decision to prevent Malaysian diplomats and citizens leaving the country was condemned by Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister. “This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms,” he said.

Najib announced a retaliatory travel ban on North Korean nationals in Malaysia and warned Pyongyang against further escalation. But the row, sparked by the assassination in Kuala Lumpur of Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly by North Korean agents, is emblematic of a bigger problem.

Since 2000, when Madeleine Albright, then US secretary of state, visited North Korea at Bill Clinton’s behest, Britain and other western countries have worked on the assumption that a mix of quiet diplomacy, limited sanctions, containment and incentives would eventually bring North Korea into line.

But that comfortable assumption has proved false, especially after Kim Jong-il died in 2011 and was replaced by his unpredictable, paranoid son, Kim Jong-un. Kim has aggressively expanded North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes in defiance of the UN and global opinion.

The international community’s impotent rage this week over Kim’s provocative launch of four missiles into the Sea of Japan underlined diplomacy’s bankruptcy.

Barack Obama told Donald Trump before he left office that North Korea was probably the gravest security risk he would face as president. The normally voluble Trump has remained largely silent on the subject. But the US is increasingly leaning on military solutions.

Read More

Source By https://www.theguardian.com

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •