Thursday, August 24, 2006
Following a visit from a Bush administration Treasury Department official, Vietnam has closed its banking system to North Korea. This is the latest victory in a patient campaign to strangle North Korea's finances. According to the linked story, after the closing of Pyongyang's access to a bank in Macao last year, only Vietnam and Russia remained overtly willing to bank North Korean financial assets. Now there is only Russia.
The purpose of the strategy is to interdict North Korea's ability to transact without our knowledge. The official line is that we are cracking down on North Korea's drug trafficking and counterfeiting, but (speculation alert) we have to think that it will also be harder for rogue states and other actors to buy weapons and technology out of sight of the NSA. The North Koreans are obviously feeling the pain; they walked from the last six-nation talks over the interdiction of the Macao banking connection last September. Whatever the value of "talks," Pyongyang's reaction had the benefit of telling us that squeezing the financial system hurts. We poked, and the Norks said "ow!" Good. Poke 'em again.
By the way, it's Bush's fault. None of this would have happened if he had pursued the unilateral strategy advocated by John Kerry. Instead he worked with our traditional enemies.
I suspect that Vietnam may also be seriously annoyed at the North Korean Dictator's use of Vietnam as a convenient laundromat for Billions and Billions of dollars in counterfeited US one hundred dollar bills he's printing in ton lots.
Funny how little the United States alleged news media have commented on the splodging great wodges of US hundred dollar bills Hizb'allah is handing out in Southern Lebanon to buy the gratitude of peole whose homes were destroyed in the violence CAUSED BY HIZB'ALLAH's attack on Israel...