Monday, May 25, 2009

North Korean nuclear blast is test for Obama and diplomacy

North Korea test detonated a nuclear weapon on May 25, 2009. According to McClatchy News, this latest North Korean provocation would be a good test for the Obama administration and its diplomacy. It is ironic that McClatchy referred to this provocation as a test for the Obama administration. At about the same time that this story was published, an American think tank (I believe it was the Brookings Institute), held a panel in which the North Korean issue was discussed. One of the participants of the panel was a Japanese official. He also referred to the North Korean provocations as a test for the Obama administration.

I think Japan often arranges “tests” for America and for others. Japan uses these “tests” to determine the true intentions of others. In Japan, people often keep their true feelings hidden. In Japanese, a person’s true feelings are referred to as “honne” (本音) while their “tatemae” (建前) is their “façade” – the way they act in public, which may be different from their true feelings. Deciphering a person’s true intentions in Japan, therefore, can be quite difficult when people say and act in a way that could be the opposite of one’s true feelings. Consequently, “testing” other people (or other countries) might be a good way to determine their true intentions.

In the case of the North Korean provocations, Japan wanted to find out how the Obama administration would handle North Korea. Towards the end of the Bush administration, the relationship between Japan and America had been damaged when the Bush administration took North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Now that a new administration had taken over, Japan was anxious to see how it would respond to North Korea.

To deal with the threat posed by North Korea, in the McClatchy article, one U.N. diplomat spoke of the “need for (new) diplomacy,” what he referred to as a fresh diplomatic approach that involved thinking outside the box. The diplomat noted that South Korea and Japan had their own issues with North Korea and that might complicate things.

As always, the New Diplomacy involved having people like me divulge information on the Internet in an attempt to get other nations to bend to our will.

Did I mention that this is a really stupid idea? After all, a close examination of the facts show that they do not run in our favor.

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