Today’s headlines underscore the premise made in the monograph* released by Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard just yesterday.
Ironically, the monograph’s opening paragraph breathlessly proclaims that nowhere in the world is “the efficacy of economic inducements and sanctions more hotly contested than on the Korean peninsula.”
But the whole premise of this analysis is the opposite proposition.
That is, essentially what has emerged is today’s latest and most widespread consensus shared by interested parties outside of North Korea: we have moved from a selection of only bad options to a resignation that there are no options to be realistically played.
In retrospect, as depressing as it may have seemed in dealing the DPRK, we — including the worst of naysayers — were all unduly optimistic about North Korea.
The situation was – and remains – just that bad.
So when reading this morning’s newspapers about the DPRK thumbing its nose at South Korea in its current hour of need, one can only try to smile by recalling Yogi Berra’s observation about déjà vu.
The North Koreans, for all their brilliance in tactics, appear to be hitting the wall, given the lack of a sustainable long-term strategy. It’s so pathetic that no one seems willing to help them. And when there may be potential aid givers, the terms and conditions for providing assistance can be infuriating. To say that Pyongyang is willing to cut off its nose to spite its face, out of a warped sense of nationalism designed to shore up its threatened oligarchy, is an understatement.
The overall situation is now so pathetic that most observers are left just about emotionless. There is longer a sense of outrage, anger or even depression. North Korea seems hell bent to prove to the world that as bad as it can make of its situation, Pyongyang remains resourceful to take their cause to an unbelievably yet lower level.
Today there is little controversy about what to do about North Korea. And no one is trying to come up with a breakthrough solution. Even among the very cynical, words are beginning to fail.
* While going through all 90 pages may be a bit of an unreasonable slog for most KER subscribers, the three page executive summary is worth the scan. To get a free, 90-page PDF copy of the monograph, go to http://www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/pdfs/ps059.pdf
North Korea sinks any summit chance
KCNA says Seoul’s emissaries ‘begged’ for 3 meetings in secret China talks
北, “南 정상회담 제안…돈봉투 내밀며 천안함 등에 대한 유감표명이라도 해달라며 구걸”
By Christine Kim, Ser Myo-ja
Korea JoongAng Daily
June 02, 2011
click here to read article
(For an update, see North’s summit claims blindside Seoul, D.C. click here to read update )
Engaging North Korea: The Role of Economic Statecraft
by Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard
Peterson Institute for International Economics
June 1st, 2011
click here read monograph description