Playing Nice with North Korea by Selig Harrison

Playing Nice with North Korea
by Selig Harrison, director of CIP’s Asia Program
source: The National Interest
April 15, 2011

North Korea can make concessions to a visiting ex-president without losing face. This was dramatically illustrated when Jimmy Carter persuaded Kim Il Sung to freeze his nuclear weapons program—in June 1994, setting the stage for the formal nuclear-freeze agreement known as the Agreed Framework in October. Now Carter is revisiting Pyongyang for the first time to explore a compromise leading to the resumption of US-North Korean denuclearization negotiations and to seek the release of a captured American.

The White House has adopted a rigid stance, insisting that Pyongyang take denuclearization steps as a precondition for dialogue, and more importantly, resisting bilateral negotiations prior to the resumption of the six-party denuclearization discussions conducted by the Bush administration.

The Obama administration is missing a perfect opportunity. The present rigid US policy undermines the moderates in the Pyongyang leadership who were moved into key positions by Kim Jung Il at the recent Workers Party Congress. Not only his sister, Kim Hyong Hui, his brother-in-law, Chang Sung Taek, and his favorite son, Kim Jung Un, but more important, Kang Sok Ju, long the leading advocate of improved relations with the United States, who was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister. When I proposed the concept of a nuclear freeze to the late Kim Il Sung in a meeting with him on June 9, 1994, it was Kang Sok Ju, then Deputy Foreign Minister, who persuaded Kim in my presence to accept the proposal. Continue reading

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% by Joesph Stiglitz

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

From Vanity Fair, May, 2011
(Read the rest of the article here)

Joesph Stiglitz’s article addresses the economic imbalance across the upper 1% of Americans and the middle and lower class—you can’t fight facts about the economic inequality across our nation.  The upper 1% of Americans makes nearly 25% of the nation’s income per year and control 40% of the nation’s wealth.  On the flip side, the middle class has seen a fall in income and wealth over the past decade, and men with no college degree have seen a 12% fall in income over the past quarter century.  Stiglitz argues that an economy like America’s—one in which the wealth divide progressively worsens each year—will not do well in the long haul because of shrinking opportunity, undermining efficiency and under-investment in infrastructure, research and education.  The issue caused by a divided society is the reluctance of the wealthy to spend money on infrastructure and common goods such as public education and parks, which they could readily buy for themselves.  Stiglitz points out that the wealthy worry about a strong government attempting to balance the inequality and raise taxes on the wealthy.Explanations for the growing inequality include many aspects from globalization and the rise of cheap overseas workers, to social changes, such as the decline of unions.  Stiglitz also gives insight into the foreign policy views and actions of the wealthy, which centers round paying for wars with borrowed money, disregarding our nation’s notion of balance and restraint between national interests and national resources.  This imbalance in society and system for no opportunities is what gave rise to the unrest throughout the Middle East.  The inequality we see today, with 1% of Americans living a life of luxury while the middle and lower class fight over job opportunities and national resources, is not beneficial for a functioning society.

Carter’s Press Conference in Havana by Wayne Smith

Carter’s Press Conference In Havana
(from CIP’s Cuba page)
By Wayne Smith, senior fellow at CIP
April 2011

One might have expected the Carter trip to bring forth strong calls for change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, a policy we have suffered with, unproductively, for decades now.  His trip certainly provided the background for such a change and pointed up some of the directions in which we should move, such as removing Cuba from the terrorist list, easing travel controls even further, and, yes, even freeing the Cuban Five.  We should also be moving to ease the embargo to the extent possible.

Nuclear Weapons and the Libyan Intervention by Selig Harrison

Nuclear Weapons and the Libyan Intervention
by Selig Harrison, director of CIP’s Asia program
Published in the National Interest on April 11, 2011

As he faces the US-NATO onslaught in the weeks ahead, will Muammar Qaddafi conclude that he made a disastrous mistake when he gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003 in return for Bush administration promises of aid and improved relations?

An official from North Korea says he clearly did, and “it is now being fully exposed before the world that Libya’s ‘nuclear dismantlement,’ much touted by the U.S. in the past, turned out to be a mode of aggression, a way of coaxing the victim with sweet words to disarm itself and then to swallow it up by force.”

Qaddafi is not likely to agree with the North Koreans because he knows that, in reality, his nuclear program was not as far advanced as he had pretended, and he had lost confidence that it would ever succeed. As Mohammed ElBaradei, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, observed, Libya’s nuclear effort was “in the very initial stages of development when it was discontinued” and was, in fact, beset by major technical difficulties. To be sure, Qaddafi tried to avoid these issues by buying parts for a uranium enrichment plant through the smuggling network operated by Pakistan’s nuclear czar A.Q. Khan, but Khan proved able to supply only 15 percent of the required parts. As David Albright has shown in definitive detail, Libya did not have the technology needed to make the rest of the parts itself. Continue reading

America’s Costliest War by Bill Hartung

America’s Costliest War
by Bill Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy
Published in the Huffington Post on April 5, 2011

Congress, the media, and the public are rightly asking whether America should be spending $1 billion or more on the intervention in Libya at a time of fiscal austerity. One member of Congress has even proposed that the mission be offset dollar for dollar by cuts in domestic programs (leaving the Pentagon and related security programs off limits).

While this newfound attention to the costs of U.S. global military operations is welcome, focusing on Libya alone misses the mark. The $1 billion in projected spending on Libya is just one tenth of one percent of the over $1 trillion the United States has spent so far on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Looked at another way, the likely costs of the Libyan mission are the equivalent of less than four days of spending on the war in Afghanistan.

And that’s the point. Those genuinely concerned about war costs need to go where the money is — Afghanistan. The Pentagon has asked for $113 billion to fight the war there for this year, roughly two and one-half times what has been requested to support the United States’ dwindling commitment in Iraq. That gap will only increase as troop numbers in Iraq continue to fall. To put this in some perspective, the entire Gross Domestic Product of Afghanistan is about $29 billion per year, which means that annual U.S. expenditures on the war are nearly four times the value of the entire Afghan economy. That number would obviously change if the drug economy were taken into account, but it is stunning nonetheless. Continue reading

Obama’s Address to the Nation on the Situation in Libya


THE PRESIDENT:  Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya –- what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism.  They have moved with incredible speed and strength.  Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.

Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe.  As Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.

Continue reading

NYT Article 3/25/11: NATO Set to Take Full Command of Libyan Campaign

NATO Set to Take Full Command of Libyan Campaign

Rebel fighters near Ajdabiya, on Thursday. “We are trying to lead them to peace,” one rebel officer said of negotiations with a government military unit. More Photos »

BRUSSELS — Overcoming internal squabbles, NATO prepared on Friday to assume leadership from the United States of the military campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, senior NATO officials said, while the allied effort won a rare military commitment in the Arab world when the United Arab Emirates said it would send warplanes to join patrols with Western allies.

Meeting late Thursday night, NATO agreed that it would not only take over command and control of the no-fly zone, but also of the effort to protect civilians through aggressive coalition airstrikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s troops on the ground, the officials said. Details of the second part of the operation will be worked out in a formal military planning document over the next couple of days, the officials said, but all NATO countries took the political decision that the alliance would command and coordinate the entire military campaign. Continue reading