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    Talk talk

    Oh, yeah. I guess I’m sort of duty-bound to to mention that the DPRK has announced that it will return to the 6-party nuclear kaffee klatsch. Whatever. Reuters quotes an AEI expert…

    But officials traveling with Rice in Asia said they have seen no concrete sign the communist state would surrender its nuclear capability — which U.S. intelligence estimates at more than eight weapons. Many experts doubt this will happen.

    “I don’t believe that talks will convince the North Koreans to abandon their program,” former Pentagon official Daniel Bluemthal, from the pro-Bush American Enterprise Institute, told Reuters by telephone from Washington, D.C.

    “Pyongyang’s nuclear aspirations go to the core of the regime’s raison d’etre — ensuring its own survival and forcefully unifying the peninsula under its control,” the Asia expert wrote in an analysis on the AEI Web site.

    …but you don’t have to believe that the contemporary DPRK is still motivated by the goals of the Kim Il-sung era in order to doubt that Kim Jong-il’s regime is unlikely to disarm. By this point, sheer hubris strikes me as motivation enough. North Korea is aware that its inability to feed its people is so well-known worldwide that it’s not even news anymore. The occasional puff piece hardly compensates. And the PRC, which has a growing economy and cannot afford to be as openly combative toward companies with large consumer markets such as the US and Japan, is less and less inclined to stand firm behind the DPRK when it gets adversarial.

    Even so, it remains a North Korean backer, which makes me wonder about this:

    A hardline Bush administration faction, including Vice President Dick Cheney, has been viewed as opposed to talks with Pyongyang and eager to shape U.S. policy to encourage the regime’s collapse.

    While we’re making all nicey-nicey with China? While economists in the ROK look at the potential problems with reunification and reach for their nitro-glycerine pills? (South Korea has just announced that it will send more rice as aid to the North, BTW.) We all want the DPRK regime to collapse, but I can’t imagine how the Cheney faction imagines we could seriously, openly pursue that as a policy goal.

    The talks do serve a purpose, though: they give the DPRK attention and make it feel like a world power. (Rice recognizes that that’s important–a few months ago she was chuckling that the DPRK was indignant because some press release of its hadn’t caused a general spaz.) However galling it may be, keeping North Korea from feeling like a cornered rat is a worthy goal.

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