1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve given up wondering how a paleocon grownup like Lugar can even sit in the same room with Bolton and keep his gag reflex under control.

    What I’m more curious about is how the differences in the Administration over what to do about North Korea shape up behind closed doors.

    If North Korea has eight or ten nukes in addition to its plethora of conventionally armed rockets pointed at Seoul, then any military option the U.S. takes will at best lead to hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of casualties on both sides. Even uberhawk Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney thinks – sans nukes – that the casualties on the U.S. side would top 100,000, doable and acceptable in his eyes. That number seems way low to me.

    There’s little doubt the U.S. would defeat Kim’s armed forces, ultimately, but a Pyrrhic victory seems almost inevitable. Any attack on the North would not guarantee nailing all those nukes, and while the People’s Army, Air Force and Navy might be wrapped up in 30 days, the destruction they could wreak in that month would be the worst warfare the U.S. has seen since World War II. Besides his unknown number of nukes at unknown locations, it seems likely that Kim has chemical and biological agents at the ready. Huge tunnels pierce the DMZ capable of moving tens of thousands of troops in a hurry.

    So, facing the prospect of thousands of dead Americans in â€transfer tubes†being flown secretly into some West Coast Air Force base,†exactly how does one sell the military option? Shout Hooooorah! and tell Dubya how cool he looks in his flight suit?

    The diplomatic option is equally problematic, if not so immediately sanguinary. The six-sided talks have failed in large part because Pyongyang wants bilateral talks between itself and the U.S. that Washington rejects out of hand. Stalemate. Presumably there is nobody in the White House even suggesting that bilateral talks can’t hurt and could possibly break the impasse.

    Each passing day the situation worsens as North Korea increases its ability to fatten its nuclear arsenal. At some point it will have enough warheads for its own uses and will graduate to sales. Who to? Anybody’s guess, but Osama might be on the short list.

    Contemplating that scenario, the hard-headed realist that Lugar claims to be should not only be eager to vote against Bolton but also to lead the fight against him.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well said, MB. Really well said.

    I’d only add that I really wonder whether the US fully understands China’s role in this. Sure, they realized before that China could make N Korea talk really easily (by shutting down their pipeline, among other ways). They probably realize that, for reasons of their own, China isn’t pushing as hard as they might be (the article noted that China pulled out of bilateral negotiations WITH THEM when it was leaked that we were having such negotiations–any bet a hawk like Bolton did the leaking, there? it fits the MO). But I don’t see ANYONE in the Administration who seems to understand how China works, their approach of engagement, and how ambivalently they’d perceive nukes in NK. I was in China when Condi was, and boy did she flop spectacularly. And she’s supposed to be the diplomat here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    To support my contention the Administration just doesn’t have a clue why China wouldn’t want to support our efforts in N. Korea, the current NYT writeup on the N Korea hearing includes this:

    In separate comments, Mr. Hill appeared to express more frustration than other administration officials have in the past over China’s refusal to exert more economic leverage on North Korea. Pressed by the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, to talk about China’s role, Mr. Hill said, â€Mr. Chairman, I agree with you that China has been reluctant to use the full range of leverage that we believe China has.â€

    He noted that China’s trade and investment with North Korea had actually gone up in recent years, in part because North Korea’s trade with Japan had gone down. South Korea has also increased its trade and investment.

    Well, you don’t suppose China might have some very good reasons it doesn’t want to pressure N Korea?