Flat White

Chinese whispers overs North Korea

12 August 2017

3:44 PM

12 August 2017

3:44 PM

Australia could – and should – play a vital if silent role in the (literally) frightful face off between the exotically coiffed brawlers in Washington and Pyongyang. Only an ally such as Australia, with its pretty clean nose and benign agenda, could whisper in Donald Trump’s ear with even a vague chance of being heard.

Here’s the message Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should personally deliver, I humbly suggest with respect and all that. “Look, Mr President, or Don, as we would say in Wagga Wagga or Oodnadatta, you have to stop shoving the Chinese to the front, prodding them to take on the young Kim from hell. Here’s the thing (sorry Ms Bishop, I know you’d be uncomfortable with the Aussie informality but the world’s at stake): while ever you Mr President Don (OK?) are publicly shoving China in the back to go slap down Nuclear Korea, the NK gang are seeing that China is nodding but doing nil. You are exposing China’s weakness banging on with this.”

Weakness? “Yes. Look, Xie is more afraid of China losing face than of anything else, even a bad war on its border. You must know that face, or respect, is exactly what is propelling young Kim, too. Rather, the lack of respect and the potential loss of face. We can call it pride. It’s a genetic part of the human condition, a gene that is especially strong in our Asian brothers and sisters. It is also the driver of China’s behaviour.”

So you may want to say to the Don, “Lay off the Chinese, for gorsakes, your Splendid Hairness, they won’t risk being ignored or rebuffed on this, privately or, seven heavens forbid, publicly.”

Australia has far more soft power than we seem to imagine, Minister, power residing in our national common sense and the good will built up as a fabulous new nation (before some bastards came and started stuffing it up). So use it.

The full strategy, if I may be so bold, would unfold as Australia makes the obvious point that it is another human trait driving Kim Jong-un to madness: fear. Rather than threaten his regime with bigger American willies, the UN would be well placed (were it not for being in the grip of self serving heavies of the world) to offer North Korea ‘Protected Status’ which includes a guarantee of safety from unprovoked attack by any member, gradual and conditional lifting of actions, food and medicines for its people in return for an agreed timetable to de-nuke itself, starting immediately (In UN speak that is months). Kim can sell it as a great deal he has made. So can the Artful Dealmaker.

This about face can be explained to even the most half-brained media and the general publics as a genuine strategy for peace. To avoid war not only in the short term, but the longer term, and to provide some humanitarian aid to the long suffering North Korean people.

Former CIA analyst on China and North Korea, Dr Sue Mi Terry (not a name that lends itself to a career in law) also believes fear is the key. She told Fox News last week that, no, Kim would not launch a first strike. He may be unpredictable but self-preservation and regime safety are his priorities.

Having nukes makes him feel more secure, safe from being bullied – and making him appear strong to his own people. That feeds his self-preservation agenda.

It takes vast amounts of political and intellectual courage to reverse such a visible and vital policy as now reigns, not to mention profound belief in its efficacy. But it must be done.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments