Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who's the bigger Jerk?

The USA is endangering East Asia and wasting huge resources jerking around with North Korea. Why?

The US agreed many months ago to return $24 million in frozen North Korean funds they'd demanded confiscated in September 2005 due to what the USA considers irregularities.

North Korea is fundamentally irregular. They wish to be irregular (examine juche ideology to somewhat understand). They're part of the "Axis of Evil" according to President Bush.

But returning those funds was a clear condition for dismantling North Korea's nuclear program. Weeks and months have passed; numerous news reports have cited progress; but the North Koreans still don't have their money.

Now US$24 million may seem like a lot of money to you or me, but to nations it ain't much at all. The South Koreans are forced to remain on alert with 650,000 troops: the North keeps 1,000,000 troops, while US deployment in South Korea is 30,000 troops. How much does that cost? Let's be silly and make a very conservative estimate: for a US soldier, $100 each day: for South Korean soldiers (most under mandatory conscription) $10 per day; and let's say a soldier's maintenance in North Korea costs $1 each day. Thus pure costs are (3,000,000 + 6,500,000 + 1,000,000) well upward of US$10 million each day. How much damage will a nuclear accident do to East Asia? How much would military intervention cost? The USA now spends $195 million every day on the Iraq conflict. And how much are the lives of soldiers and civilians worth? The agreements were reached in so-called "Six Party Talks" requiring great coordination. A one-off $24 million is clearly cheap. But some plump jerks in Washington are stringing this along, and angering close allies in the process.

C'mon USA - you said you'd return North Korea's money. It's clearly more a matter of principle than the funds themselves. Fix it. Cough up. Don't endanger us all with dumbass brinkmanship.

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