May 25, 2009

Mission Failure

Cries of condemnation once again burst from world leaders competing to outdo each other. The halls of the UN fill with disgust, outrage, confusion. No one can understand this rogue, this scum of international society that’s playing with our minds.

Poor, incompetent, stubborn North Korea continues to defy the world - and it drives the world crazy.

“North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action,” President Obama said at the White House. “The United States and the international community must take action in response.”

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, one upped President Obama by telling CBS that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program “poses a grave threat to the United States.”

North Korea’s “reckless action” is certainly part of the problem, but President Obama’s statement conveniently left out an equal truth - the world has failed with North Korea. The UN, working through the IAEA, has discouraged many nuclear programs from developing, but if a state really wants nuclear weapons, chances are it will get them.

India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea have proved this and Iran may soon.

North Korea’s actions run deeper than nuclear weapons though, to the core of humanity. A certain pride is violated when North Korea defies the world, hubris that’s shattered when the controlled ignores the controller. Ego bubbles up and consumes the mind in self-righteousness.

Another type of pride is attacked by the failure of one’s ideas. No one enjoys when their ideas fail, especially when things go wrong despite the best intentions, and few sights hurt worse than your ideas, time, and labor crumbling before you. This feeling is welling up inside the UN and EU, in America and across Asia.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, declared in unison with President Obama, “These irresponsible acts by North Korea warrant a firm response by the international community. The European Union will be in contact with its partners to discuss appropriate measures.”

Solana left out that a “firm response” didn’t deter North Korea from testing a satellite disguised as a missile. American Ambassador Susan Rice said from the UN, “What we heard today was swift, clear, unequivocal condemnation and opposition to what occurred.” The same condemnation when North Korea, only a month ago, expelled IAEA observers and restarted its nuclear program.

The same condemnation that failed to prevent the first nuclear test.

No statement was as utopian, and hence none more pitiable, than Ban Ki-Moon’s. The UN secretary general said he was “deeply disturbed” by North Korea’s actions and lamented, “They should have come to the dialogue table and resolved all the issues through peaceful means.”

Ban makes two errors. First, nuclear weapons used as deterrent are peaceful means, a fact that seems lost on the UN and America. North Korea is developing nuclear weapons because of a perceived American threat. It believes America is as much a threat as Admiral Mullen thinks North Korea is and it’s trying to ensure that America doesn’t pull another Iraq.

But the ultimate failure of the UN is the word should. Yes, North Korea should have resolved the nuclear issue at the dialogue table, but it didn’t. The UN isn’t supposed to be a think tank spouting ideological wishes; it’s supposed to be a real organization dealing in real solutions. At least it should be.

The UN’s headline on its website is A stronger UN for a better world, but it displays weakness to North Korea.

Perhaps the UN is inherently weak; if so then add one more vote for UN reform. The UN must decide whether to grow strong because empty threats are only emboldening North Korea. Don’t go back to the drawing board because the board is broken. A completely new approach to North Korea is needed. The currant strategy has failed.

North Korea is taking on the appearance of a bored, spoiled girl seeking attention. It knows how to get under the world’s skin and its nuclear program has become a game which the UN and the world are eagerly playing. North Korea has, in its own twisted way, learned how to control its controllers.

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