Fiddling as the N Korean missile crisis burns

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2006, 12:00am

The pressing, dangerous and unresolved Korean peninsula issue has been locked in stalemate by global leaders guided more by political expediency than true concern for the world ('China needs to bring N Korea back to the table', July 6). If the fire was to be stoked, the effect would be a thousand times worse than the situation in Iraq. The threats are fuelled by memories of the Korean war, missile tests and the increasing hi-tech US weaponry stationed in South Korea and Japan. They are tempered by a strong desire for reunification among many South Koreans and, probably, most of their northern neighbours. But the issue remains locked in a time warp of tiny steps forward and big steps backwards, with no new thinking to solve the impasse.

I believe this impasse stems from the fact North Korean leader Kim Jong-il fears for his future, and that of his family and followers, should he ever relinquish power. Therefore, a real strategy for future peace should include negotiating a safe exit strategy for Mr Kim: granting him and his people exile in neighbouring China. Such a strategy would guarantee them safety and a dignified exit, and give the ordinary people of North Korea the chance to open up to the world and avoid regional destruction. The alternative is continued dangerous brinkmanship with potentially horrendous consequences conducted by an ailing dictator and global leaders who have lost sight of the truth.


US President George W. Bush obviously (and perhaps intentionally) does not see the irony of denouncing Iran's supposed nuclear capability without also censuring Pyongyang, which has just shown us it does indeed have dangerous nuclear capabilities (if not actual nuclear bombs).

Only a handful of experts and journalists have highlighted the folly of America's fixation on Iran at the expense of North Korea. And so Washington's inept policies and misplaced priorities - like its notorious 'war on terror' - have placed the world at greater risk.

The tragic fact remains that the leader of the world's most powerful nation, who concentrated more on carousing than on history at Yale, has not provided the strong and intelligent leadership sorely needed these days.