Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea Nuclear Threat : China the beneficiary?

I have been contemplating the whole North Korea nuclear threat for years. I am especially interested in how this threat may fundamentally alter the world power-scheme among major nations, particularly with regards to China.

Now that North Korea has apparently followed through on its threat to test a nuclear weapon, the inevitable "world response" will emerge. Having completely lost all faith in the UN's ability to accomplish anything, I am convinced any such response is a complete waste of time. So many "warnings" and "urgings" and so forth have been issued to North Korea (who, as expected, simply ignores these discussions) and Iran (who also snubs such communications) in regards to their nuclear ambitions; isn't it obvious to the rest of the world that talk isn't going to accomplish anything? Countries like this have learned how easy it is to just ignore the "international community", since they have figured out this community is all talk and no action.

Much of this all-talk, no-action persona of the UN has to do with the fact that, even though the organization's name implies unity, there is anything but singularity of conviction or action among this group, especially the UN Security council. The Security Council members do everything in their power to push their own agenda (the USA included in this) instead of unite in a cause -- and, the world at large has learned how this works and takes full advantage of it. It's almost always predictable how the members will vote: if the USA wants to pursue a particular direction, you can be assured that the Soviet Union and China will oppose it; and, the reverse is true if China wants something we do not; the UK usually buddies with the USA and vice-versa; and then there is France - the "swing vote" in many situations; etc.

In this particular situation, China has incredible leverage for reasons of geographical proximity to the aggressor (North Korea), and its status as a nuclear super-power. And, simply put: nothing is getting done with regards to NK unless China wants it done. Although China is our largest trading partner, and a supposed ally, it can not be forgotten that China is a Communist country acting to protect its own interests throughout the region. China has been escalating their own military buildup, their manufacturing capabilities (much of it with the assistance our consumer feeding-frenzy on Chinese goods), and their deals with commodity sources (like Iran and Venezuela) - perhaps the NK crisis can be used as an excuse for some of this now?

China seems poised to gain additional world power and influence from this NK situation. Since, as the way I see it, only China can tip the balance against NK, they have positioned themselves to now become a larger player on the world political stage. Having the power to defuse a potential nuclear crisis surely increases their relevance. I will not be at all surprised to see China realize this and exploit the situation to maximize their power throughout the world and world organizations (like the impotent UN). But, would we or any other UN member country do any differently? -- perhaps/probably not.

As certain as the UN's inability to unite is the global quest to gain or retain power. Many nations of the world promise to ignore all sense of reason or regard for humanity's best interest in pursuit of power and relevance. And, today's power-tool of choice is the nuclear weapon -- you get one, and you suddenly have percieved power; consequences be damned (as humanity ultimately will be).

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