04 March 2005

How do you solve a problem like Korea?

North Korea isn't a country. It's a family owned and operated business that masquerades as a Communist dictatorship. Moreover, the family appears dysfunctional, and its business acumen appears to be zero.

Let me illustrate. Take a look at NASA's Night Lights of the World. Scroll over to the Korean Peninsula (just above Japan). South Korea looks like an island! Between China and South Korea there are virtually no lights, despite the presence of several nuclear reactors that North Korea used to claim were for generating electricity. What you are looking at is a picture of bad government -- so bad that it can be seen from space.

I think that the US needs to tell North Korea that the Cold War is over, and that it is time to go beyond the current truce and make formal and actual peace between North Korea and South Korea. A process needs to be put in place (with South Koreans leading it) that begins with cultural exchanges and food aid, and grows to include ever more frequent contact between North Koreans and South Koreans. Then South Korea should start building businesses in North Korea and employing North Koreans, with the goal of developing North Korean businesspeople who can create North Korean businesses for which South Korea provides investment capital. Someday the DMZ should be make into a Wildlife Sanctuary (and lucrative Tourist Destination), and lanes cleared through the minefields for some North-South roads to enable more social contact and commerce.

You get the drift. And to get Kim Jong Il and company to go along, South Korea should buy them out. Give the dysfunctional family and friends huge stipends and homes on the French Riviera for life, provided they never come back to Korea.

In other words, we need to try to stimulate the kind of reunification that East and West Germany experienced, with the people leading and the governments following. It may take a long time, but its probably the the most constructive way to deal with the North Korean nuclear weapons. A united, democratic Korea would dismantle them because they are cost too much to keep.

And what of the US? Our troop levels should decrease as the North Korean troop levels decrease. Call it constructive disengagement.

Or do I just hope for too much?

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