Thursday, December 9, 2010


First, everyone establishes their position of record.

North Korea: We will keep doing what we are doing.

South Korea: The next provocation will be met with significant reprisals (airstrikes).

The P.R.C. (round one) as reported in South Korea:
China is taking a vague attitude on North Korea's provocations, including its artillery attack on a South Korean island, with a top Chinese official skipping any mention of the shelling when he visited Seoul last month, a senior Seoul official said Thursday.
The U.S.A.:
"I actually believe that because these provocations continue, and seemingly at a more frequent interval, that the danger is going up and that steps must be taken to ensure that they stop," said (U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike) Mullen at a news conference in Tokyo.

"Much of that volatility is owed to the reckless behaviour of the North Korean regime, enabled by their friends in China," he said.

"There is too much at stake for this sort of myopia."
The P.R.C. (round two):
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference that she questioned what Adm Mullen had done for "peace and stability in the region".

She called his remarks on China's support for North Korea an "accusation".
Okay then... so much for the formalities.

Now that everyone has staked out a public position, it is time to get things done.

Today, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (the "top Chinese official" that visited South Korea earlier) has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. This is reported as:
"the two sides reached consensus on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula after candid and in-depth talks," Xinhua news agency said.
Next, a high-level U.S. delegation, led by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, plans to visit Beijing next week.

But wait... what could possibly go wrong?:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations who for years has served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter, will visit North Korea next week in a trip that was announced hours before the North's Kim Jong-il met in Pyongyang with Chinese State Councilor Dai Binggou.


Richardson said in a statement that he is worried about the North's actions.

"If I can contribute to the easing of tension on the peninsula, the trip will be well worth it," he said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Richardson will not carry any message from the U.S. government. However, Richardson will likely be briefed before he goes and then report back to the State Department after returning, and the visit could help ease tensions.

Forgive me.

Given all the preliminaries, I thought there was some hope for meaningful action.

I can not think of a move more likely to undermine our allies and put off any resolution to things short of the Obama administration organizing a "beer summit".

I will say that several State Department folks *should* be outraged with their bosses. I doubt that they would publicly air said outrage, but still...

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