Fire of Liberty
During the past three days the commentariat has been putting forth various arguments on the very limited options that the US and other regional powers in Asia have in dealing with North Korea and its quest for nukes. While I'm in total agreement that a military solution is a non-starter at this time(I still think such a option should remain on the side of the table for safety's sake), I have to beg to differ with the folks who say sanctions won't work because North Korea and its citizens have little or nothing to sanction that will slow down or stop their activities. Now it's true that the everyday people of North Korea are starving and are forced to eat tree bark and leaves of grass but in all instances these sanctions would be applied to the upper echelon in Pyongyang who are the one's who run the show and have the most to lose from strict sanctions. Thankfully Richard Lloyd Perry provides a good overview in The Times(England) of how the higher ups within the politburo and Kim Jong Il clan use the proceeds from missile proliferation, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, skin trade, and various other black market enterprises to continue their wicked reign over the poor folks of North Korea as well as the quest for the bomb and its delivery system. Though we'll be hard pressed to fully clamp down on a lot of this illegal activity(Missile proliferation can be slowed by the Proliferation Security Initiative) we can still make it pretty darn hard on the regime by turning off their cash flow by shutting down various bank accounts, preventing them from holding or creating new accounts, as well as limiting the DPRK from all other sources of money within Asia. One only has to look at various news reports throughout the Asian/Pacific region(See here, here, here, here, here, and here.) that note how US, China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia and others have already placed a substantial strain on the Hermit Kingdom by freezing their various bank accounts.
Now while the DPRKs puffing up like a Blow Fish and blustering rhetoric have to be taken seriously( especially with their most recent nuclear test) I think we've got to continue to dry up North Korea's financial resources and let the regime fall into financial despair. While sanctions are just a fraction of what will be required to take down the regime(see my earlier post) I think this will provide us more bang for the buck and allow the regime to suffer much like the people have under their boot of totalitarianism. If the powers in Asia and the US keep the heat turned up on the regime we could see the end of this regime in the near future.