U.S. will ‘learn to co-exist’ with a nuclear North Korea, says New Yorker reporter

Middle East
on 6 Comments

North Korea wants nuclear weapons so that it can be a player in the global community; and in the end the United States will accept North Korea’s nuclear status.  Like Pakistan.

“[M]ost of the people you talk to who specialize in this subject agree that we’re probably going to end up in a situation where North Korea has nuclear weapons. It is a nuclear state, and we learn to co-exist with it.”

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker said that yesterday on National Public Radio.

And of course the obvious comparison is to Iran, which is nothing like North Korea on the lunacy scale; but which our politicians say must never acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, the whole point of the Iran deal was that it would not acquire nuclear weapons.

Osnos went to Pyongyang for four days last month and yesterday Terry Gross interviewed him on Fresh Air about North Korea’s desire to be a normal country.

GROSS: So if North Korea wants to play in the global community of nations and they want diplomatic relations with the U.S., but they don’t want to give up their nuclear program, what if – what if the U.S. said, OK, we’re going to open up relations with you. And we’re going to try to avoid a nuclear confrontation by having diplomatic relations. And we understand that North Korea is not going to give up their nuclear weapons. Is that a conceivable angle that might be played. And if so, what would the world look like if that happened?

OSNOS: That is a conceivable angle. In fact, I think that’s a very likely destination. It’s hard for the U.S. government to say that now because they certainly don’t want to give up the possibility of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. But most of the people you talk to who specialize in this subject agree that we’re probably going to end up in a situation where North Korea has nuclear weapons. It is a nuclear state, and we learn to co-exist with it. And there are various ways that can look. You know, North Korea wants us to treat it like Pakistan, which is, after all, a member of the international community. It’s got nuclear weapons. The U.S. never acknowledged it, never celebrated it but learned to live with it and doesn’t treat it as a hostile threat.

I think another version that you hear promoted these days is the possibility that we may eventually treat North Korea a bit like the way we treated Cuba, even when we had a hostile relationship, which is that we had an interest section in Havana. And the possibility might be that even if we don’t have full diplomatic relations with North Korea, that we open up some kind of channel so that we know what’s going on and that we’re able to protect our people on the ground.

But at this stage, the reality is that it’s too hostile to imagine us opening formal diplomatic relations. The most logical and conceivable first step is that we get to the negotiating table at all and begin to try to come up with a framework that would de-escalate the tensions, which means, in practice, trying to get the North Koreans to slow down or freeze the level of development that they’re doing on their weapons programs. And in return, the U.S. might freeze, as it’s known, the level of joint-military exercises that it conducts with South Korea. These are the kinds of things that might be in play. But at this point, we’re a long way from formal diplomatic recognition. The first step is really getting to the table at all.

Back to the Iran non-parallel. Why has Iran always been treated differently in US policy and discourse than North Korea? Why is the idea of containment, which Columbia’s Kenneth Waltz was considered a heretic for saying was possible with Iran, off the table for Iran, but on the table for North Korea? Why did the Obama administration spend every last bit of its political capital to bring off a historic global deal with Iran, and all so as to fend off the alternative, attacking Iran? Why do our politicians threaten to “obliterate” Iran, a country with trade relationships across Europe; and meantime pariah North Korea takes far more belligerent actions toward its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, and there’s a watchful-waiting policy? Because of the Israel lobby, because of the centrality of Israel to our politics and our foreign policy.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

6 Responses

  1. RoHa
    September 15, 2017, 5:26 am

    If the US government has any sense, that is. Not something I am too sure about.

    Of course, NK isn’t actually attacking anyone. Not SK, not Japan. Lots of belligerent rhetoric, but not a lot of action. (I know of another country that indulges in belligerent rhetoric. Presidential candidates sing “Bomb bomb Iran”.)

    It isn’t NK that has bombed Afghanistan and Iraq into rubble. It isn’t NK that destabilised Libya*, and organized a neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine that led to a civil war. It isn’t NK that supports and assists Saudi Arabia in its murderous war against Yemen, or cheers on the Israelis when they go on their murderous rampages. It wasn’t NK that accidentally dropped weapons in ISIS controlled areas.
    Often.
    It wasn’t NK that supported, trained, and armed ISIS-Lite groups who drove the Syrian Civil War.

    NK is a brutal dictatorship. But not crazy. Not likely to start a war with SK and the USA.

    The Americans are making this fuss to distract from their failure in Syria.

    (But those wicked North Koreans are testing missiles!
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/world/asia/united-states-tests-unarmed-intercontinental-ballistic-missile.html)

    (*Yes, at first I thought that was a good thing.)

    • Keith
      September 15, 2017, 4:20 pm

      ROHA- “Of course, NK isn’t actually attacking anyone.”

      Correct. Furthermore, North Korea has been the victim of savage warfare from the US. Following World War II, the US established a puppet regime in the South of Korea using primarily Japanese collaborators. Massacres occurred in the South prior to the Korean War. The Russians pulled out of the North in 1948, however, the US still has bases in South Korea. The US has opposed Korean unification and even cooperation between North and South. There is no peace treaty ending the Korean War. During that war, the US dropped more bombs on Korea than in the entire Pacific during World War II, detroying vitually everthing in the North, including the damns, a major war crime. The US also considered using Atomic bombs on North Korea but refrained due to the lack of appropriate targets. A brief quote from a recommended article.

      “It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long ‘hot’ war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerence of another.” http://www.globalresearch.ca/north-korea-an-aggressor-a-reality-check/5605534

  2. Terry Weber
    September 15, 2017, 8:22 am

    “Why do our politicians threaten to “obliterate” Iran, a country with trade relationships across Europe; and meantime pariah North Korea takes far more belligerent actions toward its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, and there’s a watchful-waiting policy? Because of the Israel lobby, because of the centrality of Israel to our politics and our foreign policy.” MAybe it has something to do with Saudi Arabia because their oil is better than Iranian oil.

  3. hophmi
    September 16, 2017, 4:12 pm

    This is such amateurish garbage. Our deal with Iran was very strongly opposed by our Gulf allies. It is not just Israel. Our historic hard line in Iran is a function of the geostrategic threat they pose to our interests in the Middle East, including oil and friendly Arab allies (which at one time included Saddam). When Winston Churchill urged exactly the same type of hard line on Iran before Congress in 1953, it wasn’t because of Israel either. It was for substantially the same reasons as today.

    • Mooser
      September 16, 2017, 7:37 pm

      “Hophmi”, i would be pretty upset, too, if my chance for military glory was stolen from me by a war which didn’t happen. We can still call you Lord Hophmi of Tehran, if you like.

    • JosephA
      September 16, 2017, 8:29 pm

      Amazing that in 2017 somebody might imply that the “hard line” on Iran in 1953 was justified. Overthrowing a democratically elected government is not so good. Your oil interests are less important than Iranian lives. I’d call justification of imperialism amateurish garbage, but then I might be stooping to your level. There are very few parallels between the relationship between Iran and the U.S.A. back then and today.

Leave a Reply