Saturday, August 26, 2006

Annals of Bush multilateralism: China nudges the oil tap 

On Thursday we passed along the news that U.S. Treasury officials had persuaded Vietnam to deny banking services to North Korea. The stated reason was to cut off North Korean counterfeiting and money laundering, but (speculation alert) the real reason was to make it very difficult for North Korea to get paid for anything -- including particularly technology transfers -- without the United States knowing about it.

Today we read that China has been cutting back on the oil that it delivers to North Korea:

China, the communist North's closest ally and key provider of oil, has agreed with South Korea to cooperate to prevent a possible North Korean nuclear test.

China also has reduced "a significant amount" of its oil supplies to Pyongyang since the July 5 missile launches, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said.

The report cited unnamed officials at an oil storage terminal near the Chinese border city of Dandong.

The problem with the Kerry strategy of unilateral engagement with North Korea is that we actually have far fewer cards to play than either China or South Korea. Any solution that those countries do not "own" is doomed to fail, just as the much-heralded Clinton administration agreement failed. We should not do either country the favor of making North Korea first and foremost an American problem, both because that is what Kim wants us to do (which ought to be reason enough to deny it) and because it lets China and South Korea get away without fashioning their own solution.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Aug 26, 07:02:00 PM:

And yet the same mutliculturalisst approach has been largely ineffective vis-a-vis Iran.  

By Blogger Final Historian, at Sat Aug 26, 09:13:00 PM:

Thats because there is no perfect solution to every problem. Treat them differently, because, you know, they are different.  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Sat Aug 26, 10:00:00 PM:

And yet the same mutliculturalisst approach has been largely ineffective vis-a-vis Iran.

Of course -- because Iran isn't looking to extort anyone for anything significant. They have oil to pay their bills. They're just religio-nuts.

DPRK on the other hand is obviously looking to extort a huge aid package from the rest of the world. The more extortees you have the better chance you have of getting some of them to actually pay off.  

By Blogger luc, at Sun Aug 27, 12:44:00 AM:

When I look at a country like NoKo, which has nothing except some missile and possibly in the near future nukes, and then think of Kerry's suggestion that we should have unilateral engagement, I cannot help but ask for what reason? Do we want to but missiles or nukes from them? As the answer is certainly negative, the only other alternative to getting into this type of commerce with them is negotiations on paying them for protection, just like with the Mafia. It is astounding, if you think, that someone aspiring to to be president of the only remaining superpower advocates paying protection. If anyone wonders if Kerry would accept dhimmitude he has already given the answer!  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sun Aug 27, 07:37:00 PM:

I have to wonder, in similar vein to luc, if I were China, which Korea would I rather have for an ally, North or South? The advantage the Chinese get from having NoKo as a mad dog on a leash is not small in terms of policy uses, but the balance can be tipped.  

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