Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Problem With Diplomacy

One of the knocks on John Bolton is that he's too combative to make an effective diplomat, or so it is alleged. Beans, I say - if two or more parties have a mutually advantageous negotiation to undertake, a way will be found to reach agreement. Contrast that with North Korea (or Iraq during Saddam's reign), where the limits of diplomacy become painfully apparent.

Compromise is inherent in negotiation; there's nothing to be gained from dealing with a party that (a) presents demands rather than trade-offs, and (b) has no intent to honor any agreements made to begin with. Despite my brief optimism that North Korea had returned to the six-party talks, it is now almost certain that we have nothing to say to this totalitarian regime. I see only two good resolutions to the North Korean impasse:

(1) the death of Kim Jong-Il, provided he is replaced by someone of more moderation, or
(2) a definitive crackdown by China, the only power with any real negotiating power in this situation.

The possible bad resolutions? I shudder to contemplate...

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