North Korea has declined to make its oral agreements official, moving diplomatic negotiations to end its nuclear weapons program back to the starting line. So it is now not an official sponsor of terrorism, some of the sanctions against it have been lifted, and it faces an Obama administration that pledges “direct and aggressive diplomacy” but will likely be as conciliatory as the Clinton administration was—though probably not including a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.
Although Kim Jong-Il had a stroke, it still seems like this has been his year. The civilized world continues to treat him as just another world leader while his diplomatic service strings them along with laborious talks that go nowhere. He has been using his nuclear weapon aspirations as a lever to get ever-increasing concessions from the West.
But what should we be doing about North Korea? Diplomacy clearly doesn’t work with Kim Jong-Il as it’s been 14 years since the original effort. We are stretched too thin with Iraq and Afghanistan already to invade North Korea and get rid of his nuclear program completely. I think a targeted air strike like Israel’s back in 1981 would take care of their sole nuclear plant capable of manufacturing plutonium. Our foreign policy should properly address our enlightened self-interest, so to speak, and eliminating the weapons program would suffice to that end.
Longer term, it is clear that Kim Jong-Il and his regime of thugs is a menace to the free world. The United States, with or without United Nations support, should seek to topple the DPRK. We could arm the citizenry, providing air support as necessary, while encouraging South Korea to invade with an eye toward reunification. Technically, we are still at war with North Korea so we could provide troops without complication. Furthermore, this time around North Korea has no friends like China or the Soviet Union to lean on. Countries like France, Russia, and such will squawk but they won’t put up much in the way of opposition. This war is the one that we should have fought instead of the one in Iraq—the DPRK is much more of a threat than Saddam Hussein ever was.