Monday, 9 April 2007

US lets N Korea violate sanctions

Another nation's supposed fight against 'terrorism' trumps N Korea restrictions over nukes in Bush administration's priorities
The New York Times reports:

Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country’s nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.

The United States allowed the arms delivery to go through in January in part because Ethiopia was in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militias inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the American policy of combating religious extremists in the Horn of Africa.

American officials said that they were still encouraging Ethiopia to wean itself from its longstanding reliance on North Korea for cheap Soviet-era military equipment to supply its armed forces and that Ethiopian officials appeared receptive. But the arms deal is an example of the compromises that result from the clash of two foreign policy absolutes: the Bush administration’s commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism and its effort to starve the North Korean government of money it could use to build up its nuclear weapons program.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, as the administration has made counterterrorism its top foreign policy concern, the White House has sometimes shown a willingness to tolerate misconduct by allies that it might otherwise criticize, like human rights violations in Central Asia and antidemocratic crackdowns in a number of Arab nations.

It is also not the first time that the Bush administration has made an exception for allies in their dealings with North Korea.

How can the Bush administration expect any nation, including the sanctioned party, to observe and comply with international UN sanctions if itself does not do so? What's worse is this is a case in which they help one 'enemy' fight the other 'enemy'.
This is bad precedent.

All this done in the name of fighting a war that is basically political (the "war on terrorism"). There is no proof that North Korea's weapons sold to Ethiopia for its fight against the Islamic extremists in Somalia will even help fight terrorism, it might just make it worse or perhaps it had no effect. Or maybe North Korea's weapons sales have helped Ethiopia's fight, but what damage has it done to the insofar followed sanctions on N Korea? Isn't it proof for the despotic regime that there will always be ways around international restrictions?

This is nothing compared to what Pelosi did: visit a country the Bush administration does not like, although they aren't sanctioned internationally, they are no North Korea, and other members of Congress did the same thing as Speaker Pelosi. This incident is much worse and will certainly not help diplomatic relations between any countries.

This latest hypocritical action made by an administration whose head seems to have a Manichean paranoia of sorts is one that should receive more attention. Bush and domestic politics asice, any government that makes these kinds of actions is not exercising the right policy decisions. I don't care if Barak Obama was president, these kinds of actions are far from acceptable, indeed so considering the circumstances.

Help an authoritarians regime with a history of taking military action in the turmoil-ridden Somalia against groups using tactics that might (see the fire paradox) increase public support and power of such groups. Extremists love a way to get the public and others to convert to their cause, and an occupier and perceived enemy is a perfect 'enemy' to do just that. We've seem the same happen in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The administration already showed the world what it thought of the United Nations, and international community as a whole, with other unilateral (or nearly unilateral) moves in the 'war on terror'.

Want a surprise? Our [least] favorite former ambassador had some good things to say...
John R. Bolton, who helped to push the resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea through the Security Council in October, before stepping down as United Nations ambassador, said that the Ethiopians had long known that Washington was concerned about their arms purchases from North Korea and that the Bush administration should not have tolerated the January shipment.

But, naturally, put the blame all on the State Department. (Bolton was one of the necons, like Rumsfeld, who despised State — not least its diplomacy.)

It is not State caving in to N Korea and Ethiopia, its the administration at its core. It seems it will do anything to fight the undefined 'terrorist' and Islamic extremist enemy. Proof that many tactics are unlawful or counterintuitive won't hinder the 'war on terror'.

Restrictions against a country with proven nukes/nuclear program versus unproven fight against terrorism. Hmm...

The experts have already agreed: North Korea is a huge threat. Who knows whether Ethiopia's fight against extremists in Somalia helps or hurts the broader, true front against terrorism, but considering the Ethiopia-Somalia history and the counterterror precedent, it probably just helps the terrorists, and the North Koreans.

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