Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Well, Well, Well...North Korea "Agrees" To Disarm

I've been avoiding blogging about the six party talks simply because North Korea usually comes into it with less than sincere objectives (and I've been too busy to really get into the topic). However, it seems that as a result of the many things like the North's underground nuclear detonation and lobbing missiles out to sea to China stepping stepping up to the plate and the United States clearly indicating "enough is enough" that the North has "agreed" to disarm.

Now I hate being cynical, but that's why I haven't been blogging the stages leading up to this story. It's just hard to believe anything regarding North Korea at its face value. They've shown over and over a true lack of sincerity in their negotiations and the bad habit of brinksmanship in their negotiations style.

Not that it hasn't been successful, if something works you keep doing it and it's been working. However, what it's also done is make looking at the North Korean issue hard to do without a heavy dose cynicism slipping into the analysis.

After scanning the headlines it seems that a turn just may have occurred. (...put a heavy emphasis on "may"...)

Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, is going on about how there is more leverage over the North through the six party talks and the UN's sanctions. I think it's the other way around. The North is a nuclear power now, and the other six parties are keen to mitigate that, so they're willing to bend where they wouldn't have a year ago. Plus, while there is an agreement, it still has be approved by the legislature. This is a case of two-level games, as they say in game theory. We've got an "agreement," but the folks back home have to agree too.

Here is an interesting snippet from the Washington Post:

The agreement also seemed likely to face opposition in Washington by conservatives who remain unconvinced that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, ever intends to relinquish his nuclear weapons. Similarly, the Bush administration faced criticism from Democrats who charge the administration that broke away from the Agreed Framework in 2002 ended up five years later with a roughly similar accord.

In a sample of the criticism likely to come, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said he was "disturbed" by the deal, which he said appeared to reward Kim for flouting earlier agreements.
It just seems that with so many steps and stages still left it's a bit early to say that North Korea has agreed to unequivocally do anything except accept aid. However, I'll keep following it as will the world. I will cross my fingers that this will hold through all of the steps and stages to come.

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