At long last, the inexhaustible patience exerted by the five member states
of the six-party framework to beg North Korea to implement the first steps
promised on the "epochal" accord reached in Beijing on February
13 looks to be paying off. Today (June 28) International Atomic Energy
Agency Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen and his inspection crew are going
to visit, on a guided tour, one of the key nuclear facilities in Yongbyon to have a look - a look at whatever Kim Jong Il wants to show them.
Now every party thinks all the effort made by Christopher Hill, chief U.S.
negotiator, and his boss Condoleezza Rice, has led to a major breakthrough.
Congratulations to all of these gentlemen and the lady for the job well done. But I cannot but add: "You have succeeded. But so what?".
The bottomline of all this is the undeniable fact that North Korea, along
with its ardent patron China, has finally won the game. From now on, any
tyrant whose regime is as shaky as the DPRK's, and whose people are as destitute
as the North Koreans, will automatically resort to the same tactic to get
by. That's for sure.
As for Japan, the standoff over North Korean nuclear/missile programs as well as "abductions" has not really affected its trajectory because its diplomacy had almost collapsed long before the six-party talks were inaugurated in August 2003. These days Japanese reporters who flock around Hill around the clock have never failed to ask him this question: "We all know you are an ardent Red Sox fan. How do you evaluate Dice-K?". Dice-K is the nickname given to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the pitcher the ballclub imported from Japan late last year at $52 million for a 6-year contract. "Oh, Dice-K. I think he's just great," Hill would answer untiringly.
This way the "unwavering alliance" between the U.S. and Japan is confirmed, over and over. But in fact, Japan is looking more and more like Madame Butterfly who jumps at the slightest sign that Lieutenant Pinkerton is still in love with her. But the fact remains that Pinkerton has long gone and will never come back "when the robins nest again." I even suspect the robins will never nest again, in the first place. Like Madame Butterfly, Japan is doomed to commit hara-kiri, suicide by disembowelment, sooner rather than later. Madame Butterfly's suicide attempt somehow fails. But for the rest of her life, she remains a living dead. In short it hasn't made, and won't make, any difference to this helpless situation whether or not Kim Jong Il finally keeps his word about steps one and two specified in the February 13 accord.
Aside from Japan, however, the implication of Hill's ostensible success in accommodating North Korea is profound. In the worst case scenario, the first half of this century will see the rogue nations such as the DPRK and the quasi-rogue nations such as the People's Republic of China looking more and more like legitimate members of the international community.