Thursday, March 1, 2012

You Can Trust the Capitalists ... to Be Capitalists

Today Democracy Now reported that North Korea has agreed to "suspend uranium enrichment and halt testing of nuclear and long-range missiles in exchange for food aid", and international nuclear inspectors will be allowed to return. This is good news, of course, but we all know how treacherous them Reds are.

Mindful of this, Secretary of State Clinton warned:
The United States, I will be quick to add, still has profound concerns. But on the occasion of Kim Jong-il’s death, I said that it is our hope that the new leadership will choose to guide their nation onto the path of peace by living up to its obligations. Today’s announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction. We, of course, will be watching closely and judging North Korea’s new leaders by their actions.
I especially appreciate that last sentence: we will be judging North Korea's new leaders by their actions, not by what they say. It's what Noam Chomsky has been saying about America's leaders for a long time, though we know that in his case he's just saying it, because he thinks that the United States is the source of all evil in the world. You can judge the United States, and especially President Obama, by his words, which express his ideals; his actions are just what the Republicans and the MICFiC make him do, and so they're of no consequence.

But then I began having this feeling of deja vu: surely I had heard this story (or one very much like it) before. Aha:
In 1994, the Clinton administration negotiated a deal by which Pyongyang suspended its nuclear weapons program in exchange for oil and the foreign-sponsored construction of two cool-water reactors. But the U.S. didn’t follow up on the agreement, and North Korea resumed its program. Having withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty last January, it now develops that program legally, arguing (sensibly) that it’s necessary for self-defense. As the U.S. once argued, followed by the USSR, Britain, France, China, Pakistan and India. Nuclear Israel would argue similarly if it talked about its program, which it doesn’t as a matter of policy. (The U.S. currently conveys the impression that any nuclear newcomer commits a fundamentally evil act in acquiring this technology. But putting things in perspective, one must observe that each new nuclear state merely follows in the footsteps of those who first developed nuclear weapons and used them, with unapologetic efficacy, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)
(Bold type added by me.) One detail that I'm sure is purely coincidental: 1994 was the year that Kim Jong-Il succeeded his late father as leader of North Korea. The new concession has been made at an analogous time, just after a change of leadership in the North, a difficult time for any country.

So, Secretary of State Clinton is worried that the North will not live up to its obligations? It seems to me that the real threat lies elsewhere, closer to home.

Bonus extra: According to the Guardian, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has demanded that President Obama "commit to military action if Iran sanctions fail." Well! I'm not such a fool as to believe that a US attack on Israel would be a cakewalk, but if Israel chooses to commit aggression again in the Middle East, there may be no other alternative. But it would pay for itself, and we'd certainly be welcomed as liberators.