Quite a bit of attention is being paid to the latest collapse of North-Korea-nuclear-talks (Washington Post and Washington Times). Once again, the Stalinist regime in northern Korea has told us that after giving them nearly everything they want, they still want more.
North Korea's antics are becoming legendary (One Free Korea has the latest), yet even now, no one seriously talks about punishing them, even minimally (BBC and CNN). I'm guessing this is due to two unspoken reasons: uncertainty about the fate of the viceroy (OFK), and the fact that the Chinese Communist Party remains the regime's biggest benefactor and ally.
The cadres have been using their Korean colony brilliantly. It has badly distracted the Bush Administration (and may very well do the same to its replcaement) while extracting concessions from America and making her look pathetically weak. Despite all the talk about Zhongnanhai's stash of American Treasury notes, it is the Korean colony that has provided the cadres with the most leverage against the United States.
I humbly submit it is time to turn that around use create some leverage of our own.
OFK has some excellent ideas for how to respond. None of them would make the CCP happy, but that's just the point. Rather than let the Korean issue be used against us, we should be using it against them.
Consider the cadres' position right now. The economic slowdown is spreading (BBC, Epoch Times, and Market Watch), as are emabrrasing exposures of corruption (Epoch Times). The democratic world continues to criticize them (Agence France Presse via Yahoo and Epoch Times), however softly. Even the normally friendly Bush Administration is growing colder as it leaves (AFP via Yahoo).
Now, imagine, on top of all that, the cadres find out that the United States will make it much harder for them to prop up the Korean colony due to various trade sanctions and other actions. Might the cadres decide they don't need this bothering them right now?
Of course, the endgame must be the liberation of the Korean and Chinese peoples, but that will be years off unless Beijing feels more pressure - exactly the kind (albeit not the volume) of pressure the Administration can still inflict before it leaves next month. It would also be a cold splash of reality for a regime that can hide from its troubles by reveling in Chen Shui-bian's indictment (BBC and CNN) and France being, well, France (London Telegraph).
There is still time for the Bush Administration to take the tougher line and establish the pressure for incoming President Obama to use (if he chooses to do so). At the very least, it would show that, in its final hours, the Administration finally got something right in East Asia.