NORTH KOREAN ENDGAME
: Much is being made about Kim Jong Il's nuclear brinksmanship by people who, if they had their druthers, would love to see American forces pinned down in large numbers babysitting two erratic dictators without resolving either situation. The Bush administration is actually handling things exceptionally well because strategically there are only four possible outcomes. First the United States could cave in the manner of the Clinton administration and pay a hefty bribe in return for a quieter style of North Korean WMD proliferation. This will not happen. Secondly, Kim Jong Il could attack South Korea in some way and risk a highly probable limited nuclear response by the United States to eliminate his WMD facilities and destroy his regime. Third the Bush administration, once it has settled accounts with Saddam could preemptively launch a significant but conventional strike against DPRK weapons sites and deter North Korea from responding with an overt nuclear threat. Seoul would not tolerate this option unless North Korea first put South Korea's back to the wall. Or fourth, the Bush administration could quietly threaten North Korea with extreme measures while giving the regime a face-saving excuse to back down in public. I expect that the last possibility is the likeliest scenario. North Korea is not acting up just for laughs; their severe energy shortage and ruined " Juche " economy is apparently at a point of poverty where the regime's mechanisms of control are in jeopardy. I also expect as part of the package that the Bush administration will insist on a restoration of IAEA inspections and food aid being distributed by a UN agency instead of the North Korean government. If you think this is a stretch, pause and recall that having any dealings with the U.S. was once ideological anathema to Pyongyang; they are in such dire straits as to be provoking a conflict for the sole purpose of engaging the United States diplomatically.