17 June 2009

Return of the Axis of Evil?

Yup, this will stop 'em in their tracks:

'The leaders of South Korea and the United States told North Korea to drop its atomic ambitions and stop threatening the region while media reports on Wednesday said Pyongyang was moving ahead with plans to launch a long-range missile. After a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said a nuclear-armed North Korea would pose a "grave threat" to the world. He vowed new U.N. sanctions imposed for North Korea's May 25 nuclear test would be strictly enforced.'

The only sanctions we can strictly enforce are our own.  We can do force other nations to abide by the sanctions, much less enforce them.  And there has been ample evidence that North Korea has and will continue to trade nuclear material, including to Iran and Syria. 

'"A U.S. spy satellite spotted a special ICBM transport train moving from the manufacturing plant (near Pyongyang) to the Musudan-ri test site and staying there for a few days before returning," it quoted a government source as saying.'

Sounds familiar, no?  Meanwhile, Secretary Gates has vowed that the US '..."will not accept" a nuclear-armed North Korea as new intelligence data showed that the secretive state was preparing a fresh missile launch, which could take place in two weeks' time. ... In his speech in Singapore, Gates warned that America would hold Pyongyang "fully accountable" for the proliferation of any nuclear material or technology. "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the US and our allies. And we would hold North Korea fully accountable," Gates said. However, co-ordinating an effective international diplomatic response to North Korea has not been easy. Russia and China have stymied efforts to isolate the country at the UN, preventing a united front to condemn the country's nuclear ambitions.'

Apparently, we will 'not accept' North Korea's belligerence, but neither the EU nor we will do anything but 'dialogue' with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.  This is not to advocate direct action in Iran, but given the Iran has purchased material from North Korea (and has had invited observers at, and received data from, nuclear and missile tests in North Korea), and seems increasingly willing to defy all agreements on the use of that material, 'dialogue' seems a rather anemic response.  In January 2007, the Telegraph noted:

'North Korea and Iran are both countries driven by the bizarre regional ambitions of their rogue leaders, whose global isolation propels them into what appears to be absurd posturing and gratuitous confrontation. But however nihilistic and ultimately futile their actions may appear to Western interests, they represent a strategic confederation of malcontents whose tactics will have to be addressed with resolution of purpose.'

Meanwhile, Iran is dealing with major heartburn over continued protests of its election, about which our president has strangely been struck mute.  We don't yet know if these protests speak against President Obama's desire for peace through diplomacy rather than the promotion of democracy.  Right now Iran has neither peace nor democracy and conciliation hasn't worked to date, despite claims to the contrary.

Whether Ahmadinejad retains his hold on the presidency, neither the EU nor we have much influence in Iran, and we will still have the problem of dealing with the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran.  It's possible that despite all the [somewhat justified] mockery of the term, we are indeed facing the return of the 'axis of evil.'

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