Sunday, May 31, 2009

SecDef Gates on North Korea

From International Institute for Strategic Studies As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Singapore, Saturday, May 30, 2009
And then there’s North Korea. Dependent on the charity of the international community to alleviate the hunger and suffering of its people, North Korea’s leadership has chosen to focus the North’s limited energy and resources on a reckless and ultimately self-destructive quest for nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. These programs have isolated North Korea globally and, quite literally, starved its people.

The policy of the United States has not changed: Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. North Korea’s nuclear program and actions constitute a threat to regional peace and security. We unequivocally reaffirm our commitment to the defense of our allies in the region. The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies. And we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.

President Obama has offered an open hand to tyrannies that unclench their fists. He is hopeful, but he is not naïve. Likewise, the United States and our allies are open to dialogue, but we will not bend to pressure or provocation. And on this count, North Korea’s latest reply to our overtures isn’t exactly something we would characterize as helpful or constructive. We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region – or on us.

At the end of the day, the choice to continue as a destitute, international pariah, or chart a new course, is North Korea’s alone to make. The world is waiting.

There are no easy solutions to the challenges I have outlined this morning. And that brings me to my final point: the type of leadership you can expect from President Obama and the United States in coming years.

When Secretary Clinton visited the region, she said that this administration is committed to listening to the views of friends and partners across the globe. For example, we are now beginning to negotiate accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation – which demonstrates our willingness to take regional norms into account as we consider our relationships across the globe.

The President, similarly, has spoken of a more collaborative and consultative foreign policy – one committed to forging common solutions to common problems. Do not get me wrong: The United States will continue to be assertive on the international stage. We will protect our allies and our interests. We are, as a former secretary of state said, an indispensable power – but we are also one that is aware of our own limitations, aware that the world and nearly all the challenges we face are simply too complex to go it alone.

Let me close with a final thought. Throughout more than two centuries, the United States has been a beacon of freedom. In our efforts to protect our own freedom – and that of others – we have from time to time made mistakes, including at times being arrogant in dealing with others. But we always correct our course, and our willingness to do so is one of our most enduring strengths. In the end we know that our own democracy’s strength ultimately depends on adhering to our nation’s values and ideals – and on the strength and independence of other democracies and partners around the world. Those remain the guiding principles of our foreign policy today.
For all the talk about partners, it's going to be a lonely wait for the indespensible power to hear North Korea's decision to continue as a destitute, international pariah, or chart a new course.. Letting the madman Kim decide the future a frighting option.

Update: More Gates in Singapore,

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