I had a post ready to go up this morning on North Korea and it's nuclear program. Unfortunately, it was based on the premise that NK hadn't conducted a test, as it had previously said it would do. (So, needless to say, it's been scrapped.)
Now, all indications are pointing to the fact that they have conducted a test, despite all of the warnings from all of the concerned parties, to include the UN. In the end, nothing mattered to the North Korean government, except its strong committment to make an openly defiant gesture to its neighbors, and the world.
Pundits will be having a busy news day, today. We will no doubt be saturated with this story on all of the news channels and will most likely lead all of the major network newscasts, this evening. But all of the Monday morning quarterbacking will not prove to be successful in averting a crisis, nor will is change what appears to have happened.
Many of the pundits that are already critical of the Bush administration will do what they do best, that is, blame Bush. But, this crisis was not the direct result of any failure in the administration's current policy towards NK, rather it was the failure of NK's neighbors to dissuade it, from opening this fresh can of worms.
China, who clearly has had the most influence over its bellicose neighbor in the past decade or so, has been the most negligent. Their laissez-faire approach to this mess has yielded nothing in the way of meaningful solutions. They have the ability to settle NK down, yet they have chosen to largely ignore the situation, until very recently (and even then they did vitually nothing except issue a few strongly worded statements)
Russia has been negligent, in that, it hasn't pressured China enough to use their influence to head off this moment. Russia helped create this state. In the 1950s, they (as the Soviet Union) strongly supported NK's communist government and used them as a tool to spread communism.
Their hope was to spread their faulty ideology, presenting it as a panacea of utopian principles that the Russians themselves, would abandon much later down the line. But even with the rejection of communism (because of its overt failure to meet the needs its citizenry) in Russia, North Korea (along with Cuba) has maintained Marxism works. This they have done, despite the fact that many people live in the harshest of conditions and in deep poverty.
South Korea has been less negligent than the other two, but one cannot completely dismiss their blindness, in this situation. They have been more concerned with making peace with the North Korean state, but without the insistence that NK give up its nuclear program, at least until recently.
Leftists have demonstrated in Seoul, off and on for the past several years, and have done what leftists do best, blame the U.S. for the ills of the world. All the while, they have overlooked the fact that NK has made no efforts and no strides whatsoever to ease any tensions, not have they made any attempt to help the North Korean people by ridding itself of political oppression and economic suppression.
What happens now, will be difficult to predict. But if past reactions are any indication, we can all get ready for a lot of words of condemnation, but little else. The UN will certainly take up the idea of sanctions, but the big question will be, will China approve them?
It's not likely. But one cannot say it's a complete impossibility, they will reject that kind of response. But if I were a betting man, I wouldn't recommend anyone putting a lot of money on it, unless the money is severely troubling them.
With veto power in the UNSC, China may be the big roadblock in all of this. And if this turns out to be the case, we will all be able to see once again, how utterly useless the UN has become. All of the diplomacy, all of the threats have not produced a desired result in the recent past, so it will not pay to be overly optimistic about this case.
But even if China is cooperative, and goes along with implementing severe economic sanctions, I would not hold my breath. The "Oil For Food Scandal" is still too fresh in my mind, to have cause for optimism. And if the UN fails to agree on harsh sanctions, there will be at least one option that can and should be considered, that would be a bold move and could prove effective.
Japan should be allowed to re-arm itself, free from post-WWII restrictions. Today, it is a modern, peace loving democracy, dedicated to free enterpise. It has no human rights issues and has treated their neighbors with respect. Although China and SK still refuse to completely forgive them for hostile actions in WWII, this is a new generation of Japanese society. The Shoguns are gone, the Samarai are gone, and the military establishment has been virtually dormant for years. Those that committed the acts of the past are either dead or too old to have much influence on today's Japan.
We can go the UN route, if the world needs confirmation that the UN is worthless. But if and when it fails, do not be surprised to see the dawning of a new era, in Japanese foreign policy. Do not be surprised to see a nuclear Japan to counter-balance the rogue state of North Korea.