Friday, June 12, 2009

North Korean Bingo

When I was in college, I took a class named the Art of Diplomacy. Taught by a gentleman who had been with the State Department for many years, and still worked with them from time to time, it was certainly an engaging class. Our major project for the semester was a mock diplomatic negotiation where the students formed delegations from various countries and we were expected to negotiate with other nations regarding a specific issue, keeping our nations interest in mind (part of this was determining what our national interest would be.) Where am I going with this personal history lesson, especially with a title like North Korean Bingo? My class's negotiations were regarding North Korean nuclear proliferation. Our North Korean team did a wonderfully theatrical job of negotiating; they threatened, cajoled, whined, and postured during all of the negotiations, the performance culminated in the team storming out of the negotiations on the last day of the project.

What do we have in the news over the past months? North Korea has imprisoned American journalists, launched ballistic missile tests, stated the willingness to use nuclear weapons, tested such weapons. BINGO! If you're using a game board with the free space in the center. Why do I find all of this interesting? I'm intrigued by how closely our mock negotiations five years ago reflect current events. This tells me one of two things. Either North Korea's unpredictability in juxtaposing diplomacy with brinkmanship is more predictable than I had thought, or my class was bad enough at what we were doing to create an incredible coincidence.

I would prefer to think that we just have a coincidence on our hands, since the result we had in class would be disastrous if it is played out in the real world. As a friend of mine once said, "Jimmy Carter's smile-and-apologize-and-give-out-hugs idea of diplomacy got us a North Korea with nuclear technology, we'll have to deal with that eventually." It looks like that "eventually" may be coming closer and I am of the sincere opinion that apologies and appeasement will only make things worse after (maybe) making them better momentarily.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, I'd have to say their juxtaposing diplomacy with brinkmanship is pretty predictable. When I first read your comment that it ended with the students playing the NK delegation storming out of the negotiating room, my first thought was, "Didn't I hear about that happening in real life? When the negotiations were at the North Korean's own embassy and they stormed out of it anyway?"