State’s Radioactive Legacy

State’s North Korean team proves diplomats make useless negotiators, probably because good negotiators can make a lot of money outside diplomacy. This defect will likely kill a lot of people.

Consider (again) State’s deal with the North Korean dictator:

In its report on the Macau bank released last month, Treasury cited the “routine use” of couriers to ferry huge sums of currency in and out of the bank, to the tune of $50 million by a single depositor in 2002. It said individuals and entities with ties to North Korea have been linked to “trade in counterfeit U.S. currency, counterfeit cigarettes, and narcotics.”

That includes companies suspected of laundering “hundreds of millions of dollars in cash” through Banco Delta Asia.Not surprisingly, North Korea immediately declared that it would refuse any further negotiation until the U.S. turned over the entire $25 million.

Also not surprisingly, the State Department argued that the U.S. should do so lest the nuclear talks fall apart. President Bush agreed with State, and Macau lifted its hold on the money this week…

The Bush Administration is selling this dirty-money deal as a requirement of diplomatic realism and a price that must be paid for the larger strategic goal of getting North Korea to cooperate.

But it’s also true that the U.S. is allowing Kim to get away with his ill-gotten gains. Only weeks after the Treasury laid out a detailed rap sheet, the U.S. says never mind…

Meanwhile, life for the 23 million North Koreans is, if anything, grimmer than ever. There were reports of famine this winter. The authorities are cracking down harder on Koreans who flee to China seeking food or work and are caught and repatriated, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

The South Korean press reports that Pyongyang has ordered its diplomats stationed abroad to send their children home, apparently to help prevent defections. The return of the $25 million will only help Kim reinforce his control.

Appeasement of such monsters can be be justified to buy time – as the unfairly maligned Chamberlains did with the Munich agreement. That bought a precious year for the Brits to rearm.

But appeasing a threatening tyrant who you don’t plan on fighting makes no sense, since you just make him stronger.

North Korea poses an existential threat to the Mideast, Europe, and the US, because it proliferates ballistic missiles to Iran. It’s testing an ICBM family with ranges of over 6,000 miles. That’s enough to lob small nukes from Tehran to Washington DC and NYC, and at shorter ranges it can throw a heavier warhead at any EU target it chooses.

Now Kim can make money so easily off the US, he’s free to concentrate on this export business.

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