Sunday, April 5, 2009

We Should Speak in One Loud Voice, Not Several Quiet Voices

As promised, North Korea fired a long-range missile several hours ago, which flew over Japan and into the Pacific. No debris landed in Japan, and the missile failed to make orbit. Source.

At a speech in Prague this morning, Obama declared, “This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon at the Security Council but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.” The President continued, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

As I argued in this post, Obama is striking the right tone. But, I have mounting concerns that America is missing a unique opportunity by mishandling this crisis. We should use this launch to speak in one, world-wide voice against N. Korea, and we should use this unification to convince Russia to join the opposition.

The world has roundly condemned North Korea for this launch. Japan has been on full-alert and quite critical, for obvious reasons. South Korea has been outspoken on the matter, too. Britain and France and the EU presidency have all rebuked the North's actions. And, of course, America has actively spoken out against the launch. Source.

There is simply no doubt that Japan, Russia, China, and South Korea are most affected by this launch. China is a major N. Korea ally, so we should not expect China to lash out. But, where is Russia's voice of opposition? Russia is not squarely in the North's corner, yet it is seemingly silent.

Thus, the opportunity presents itself. The North's launch has galvanized the world. Instead of each country condemning the launch in separate voices, America should implement an organized effort to join all of these countries together into a single voice of opposition. The UN Security Council is one such opportunity, but it is not enough. We need to more sustained task force, and we can use this launch as the springboard. If Obama organizes a more unified front against N. Korea, we could simultaneously put world-wide pressure on Russia to condemn N. Korea. Such pressure would be useful, because it is likely that China and Russia will attempt to veto Security Council action against North Korea.

The time is now. The world has set its sights on North Korea. Instead of firing several slingshots, we should fire one cannon. And we should use the unity to convince Russia to follow suit.

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