Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Stopping North Korea's and Iran's nuclear games

For the first time in a long time, Tom Friedman, at the New York Times gets it right:

North Korea's nuclear program could be stopped tomorrow by the country that provides roughly half of North Korea's energy and one-third of its food supplies - and that is China. All China has to say to Kim Jong Il is: 'You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors under international inspection, or we will turn off your lights, cut off your heat and put your whole country on a diet. Have we made ourselves clear?' One thing we know about China - it knows how to play hardball when it wants to, and if China played hardball that way with North Korea, the proliferation threat from Pyongyang would be over. Ditto Europe vis-�-vis Iran. If the European Union said to the Iranians: 'You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors and related facilities under international inspection or you will face a total economic boycott from Europe. Which part of this sentence don't you understand?' Trust me, that is the kind of explicit threat that would get Tehran's attention. Short of that, the Iranians will dicker over their nuclear carpets forever.
In fact, aside from the obligatory aspersion cast on Bush, which he buries in a sentence near the bottom, Friedman is very clear that he believes, as Bush does, that the Chinese and Europeans are shirking their responsibilities, secure in the knowledge that they can always scapegoat America should the worst occur:
At the end of the day, the Chinese would rather live with a nuclear North Korea than risk a collapsed nonnuclear North Korea, and the Europeans would rather live with a nuclear Iran - that Europe can make all kinds of money off of - rather than risk losing Iran's business to prevent it from going nuclear. The Chinese and the Europeans "each assume that in the end, the U.S. will deter both the North Koreans and the Iranians anyway, so why worry," Mr. Mandelbaum said. Are the Europeans and Chinese behaving cynically? Of course, these are the very countries constantly complaining about U.S. "hegemony," and calling for a "multipolar world." Yet the only thing they are really interested in being a pole for is to oppose the U.S. - not to actually do something hard themselves to stabilize the global system.
Just as an aside, this is not the first time I've noticed Friedman agreeing with the President -- yet in each column, he always throws in the obligatory Bush insult. Perhaps that's in his contract with the Times -- all columns published in the times must include at least one sentence that, directly or indirectly, insults President Bush. Whatever. This time, Friedman's right.