is a mist-enshrouded, secret land, protected by a fortified wall that
disappears from sight on one side, raging waters on the other three
sides. For most of the last
century, its emperors – the latest known strangely as “the Dear Leader” –
and their loyal followers kept the secrets of Upper Coryo well hidden from the rest of the
world. And so, storytellers in Upper Coryo’s neighboring kingdoms, and also in the far off land
of the Bush dynasty, have created their own strange myths about this
strange and secret land.
of the Given-Away Sword. The
entire discussion today revolves around the premise that North Korea can in
fact be persuaded to give up its long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. But is this a realistic
expectation? On October 20,
Peter Maass wrote in the New York Times: “It does
not require Kissingerian smarts to calculate that
a member of the axis of evil would be death-wish foolish to relinquish the
weapons of mass destruction that may be the only thing, by virtue of the
horrible implications of their use, that stands in the way of an American
attack.” The ability to
incinerate Los Angeles
is quite logically Kim, Jong-il’s only credible
regime survival insurance policy.
This is precisely what protected Mao Zedong from U.S. hawks
forty years ago, and he knows it.
It is unlikely Kim, Jong-il
will give up his nuclear weapons now or at any time in the future. Just ask yourself a simple question:
if your worst enemy called you and two others “evil,” then promptly kicked
one of the others out of his house and tried to kill him, would you hand
over all your weapons to that enemy?
of the Great Betrayal. The U.S. accuses North Korea of violating the
Agreed Framework of 1994. But
no one seems to mention that the U.S.
itself has abrogated many terms of the Agreed Framework, both under the Clinton and under the
Bush administrations. That’s
what’s behind North
Korea recent refusal to return the
construction equipment. We
reneged the deal, so they are keeping all the
hardware hostage. North Korea has violated many deal terms,
too, but there has never been much in U.S.
behavior to build any trust on North Korea’s part. It may be unrealistic to expect (as
do many commentators) that straightforward negotiations are even
possible. Face it, the six-way talks
have been a complete waste of time so far, preceded by John Bolton
taunting, followed by North Korean taunting. I really doubt “the dwarf” that Bush
“loathes” is about to sit down and work out a deal with him anytime soon.
of the Everlasting Treaty. The U.S. also accuses North Korea of violating the
Non-Proliferation Treaty. But
the Non-Proliferation Treaty is not some kind of lifetime irrevocable
oath. Like India, Pakistan
and Israel, which never
went for the NPT in the first place, North Korea simply developed a distaste for the treaty over time. They pulled out in a
straightforward, by-the-books way.
Believe it or not, NPT signers are entitled to pull out. The U.S.
pulled out of the ABM treaty it signed with the USSR. Whoever said weapons treaties lasted
forever and ever?
of the Invisible Cannons. North Korea remains at the ready to turn Seoul into a “sea of
fire” any time. It has 11,000
artillery tubes pointing at Seoul,
plus hundreds of Scud missiles.
It has an army more than twice the size of South Korea’s. North
Korea could kill one million residents of Seoul in twenty-four
hours, without even one of its soldiers charging across, or tunnelling under, the DMZ. However, South Koreans, inebriated
by their “Korea Is One” spirits, lusting after those nubile Northern
cheerleaders, don’t think about, let alone worry about, the 11,000 cannons
pointing at them. Korean
taxpayers, through the ever-cooperative Hyundai chaebol,
have poured trillions and trillions of won into the Mount Keumkang tourist trap,
and will soon pour trillions more into the Gaesong
economic zone, with a Neville-Chamberlain like disregard for the 11,000
cannons. Simply put, this is
of Elysium. Bush and Bolton
have decried most vehemently the lack of freedom in North Korea. In fact, U.S. government officials have
used the word “freedom” millions of times over the last two years. The U.S. Congress even voted to
rename “French Fries” “Freedom Fries” on its cafeteria menu. However, did you ever notice America’s total memory loss regarding
Tiananmen Square, repression in Tibet,
and the relentless pace of firing squad executions, in mainland China? Note how Bush is giving the loudest
possible “quiet” signals to “freedom loving” Taiwan, that it
should just surrender to Beijing, and
obediently become a Special Autonomous Region like Hong
Bush or Bolton denounces repression in North
Korea, Kim, Jong-il thinks
hypocritical China/Taiwan policy – not to mention Camp X-Ray
– and simply turns a deaf ear.
of the Invincible Hunter. The
most ridiculous U.S.
government mantra in all of this is “verifiable, complete, and irreversible
elimination of the North Korean nuclear program.” Inspections had no effect on America’s march to conquer Iraq. Kim, Jong-il
would have to be a idiot to think inspections will
protect him from Bush. Recent
hard evidence in Iraq
demostrates vividly the opposite will take
place. In Iraq,
letting the inspectors in was followed immediately by Regime Change. So, I wouldn’t expect to see
inspectors back in North
Korea anytime soon.
of the Great Hunger. Many
believe that “effective U.S.
sanctions would bite deeply” and cause North Korea to submit to
disarm. This belief ascribes
far too much power to the U.S. In the final analysis, the U.S. doesn’t have much unilateral
non-military leverage over North
Korea. No one knows exactly how much fuel
oil China donates to North Korea,
but it is an enormous amount.
If China (or South Korea, for that matter) ever disagreed
strenuously with U.S.
sanctions, they would just boost fuel oil, food aid, and financial support,
replacing any shortfall stemming from U.S. sanctions. Bush’s only unilateral alternative
is Pentagon Operations Plan 5030, or some other act of outright violence he
can perpetrate without consulting China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, the
U.N., or anybody he might deem “unwilling.”
of the Unshakable Alliance. Embarrassed by France, Germany
and Russia’s disapproval
of his conquest of Iraq,
Bush spent time and money trying to build an occupying “army of the willing”
– offering Turkey $30
billion, making Berlusconi an offer he couldn’t refuse, and arm-twisting Korea. President Roh,
to prove his “strong alliance” with America,
is sending 3,000 “combat troops” to Iraq. However, a few weeks ago, he ordered
the troops already there to avoid combat, and stay indoors -- a pretty good
signal of South Korea’s
overall ambivalence about being in Iraq. It would be a mistake to interpret
these reluctantly-dispatched soldiers as demonstrating South Korea’s geopolitical alliance with the
regarding North Korea. Cops beating up Dr. Norbert Vollerstein must also be seen as part of South Korea’s North Korea policy.
of the Immortal Warriors. The
37,000 US troops now
stationed in Korea
are entirely symbolic. This
tiny contingent would be essentially powerless against any North Korean “sea
of fire” barrage or Million Man March.
Parading them around in military exercises serves no purpose. In any case, wars are fought very
differently today. In the
unlikely event of serious North Korean hostilities, within a few weeks, the
US would counterattack
with a devastating aerial bombardment, turning Pyongyang into a fine dust. During this bombardment, it would
assemble a large invasion force in the hundreds of thousands. As with Kuwait
in 1991, whether the US
has zero soldiers or 37,000 soldiers stationed in Korea, this counterattack
strategy is guaranteed and will always be the
same. The 37,000 US troops now stationed in Korea would
be irrelevant if war really broke out.
of the Trapper’s Lure. Another
myth is the “Trip Wire” theory, which suggests that if any American
soldiers are harmed in a North Korean attack on South
will spring to the defense of South Korea. This is silly. There could be American flags
burning on every street corner is Seoul, and
not a single American soldier there, and the U.S.
would still defend South Korea
against North Korea. South
Korea is not Rwanda. At a critical nexus between China, Japan,
and Russia, Korea is just too big and too important
geopolitically for America
to abandon. America
needs Samsung Electronics.
of the Silver Bullet.
Regime-changing hawks in the U.S. whisper conspiratorially
about “effective strikes against the nuclear installations.” This is an utter fantasy. If the U.S.
hasn’t found Saddam’s anthrax stockpile in a desert, how are they going to
find Kim, Jong-il’s suitcase nukes in North Korea’s
rugged terrain, with its thousands of hidden caves? Likewise, “rules that tightly
constrain North's nuclear production capacity” are a pipe dream. Any nukes the North may already have
can and will remain very well hidden for decades to come.
of War and Peace. Most
discussions of North
Korea debate the likelihood of
successful negotiations versus military action. However, nobody’s talking much about
the Third Way,
a good old-fashioned coup d’etat. Grenada, Haiti,
and Iraq may represent
the current military Regime Change style, but other approaches worked fine
in the past, such as Iran
1953 and Chile
1973. Everybody knows Kim Jong-il demanded and received a $500 million bribe for
the 2000 summit, and that he had to give his 200 top generals 200 top-end
Mercedes sedans during the famine.
Thus, the U.S. has hard recent empirical evidence supporting the
possibility that it could pay Kim Jong-il to go
into exile or pay his greedy generals to stage an “Et tu,
Brute” finale. Furthermore, a
coup in Pyongyang would leave Seoul unscathed,
unlike a military attack. It’s
a lot cleaner rather than a pointless bombing run on Yongbyon,
and could be a lot more effective than wasting time arguing whether two-way
talks are better than six-way talks.
debunking the above myths, my goal is not to criticize the U.S.
government, the Korean government, or goals of disarmament or
reunification. Quite the
contrary. I am hugely in
support of disarmament and human rights, on a worldwide basis. My only point is that supporters of
these goals should apply them in a consistent manner.
M. Seggerman is President of International
Investment Advisers, which has provided strategic advice regarding Korea to
Korean, American and European clients over the last eleven years....
< copyright ⓒ 매일경제. 무단전재 및 재배포 금지 >