The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Friday night’s Fox News All-Stars:

On what to do about North Korea:

What’s really revealing here is the Chinese response. I think there’s finally a realization here that our strategic interests do not coincide. We have pretended for a decade and a half that we and the Chinese have a common interest here. We are on the Six-Party talks.

The Chinese have not condemned the shelling. This is the first attack on civilians since the armistice 57 years ago. This is a major escalation. The Chinese have not issued a word of condemnation. Their only warning was not to Pyongyang. It was to us — over these exercises in the Yellow Sea.

Now, they had warned about similar exercises when the South Korean ship was sunk and they said they did not want us in the Yellow Sea. We knuckled under and held the exercises on the other side of the peninsula in the Sea of Japan.

But this time we’re not knuckling under and we are going to conduct the exercises on the Chinese side, meaning in the Yellow Sea, which I think is good.

But our only influence here is not on Pyongyang. We have zero. It’s only on China. And I don’t think we’re going to change the Chinese policy unless we threaten them with something a lot worse, namely a nuclear Japan or a nuclear South Korea.

But short of that, which we are not going to do right now, all that we can do is defy China, hold the exercises, support the South Koreans, and make it clear that any further escalation is going to meet a serious response, particularly from the South Korean military.

On the U.S. response to the North Korean attack:

It started out badly when our ambassador, our special negotiator, with North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, in China said the day of the shelling that we should return to talks.

The good news is that he hasn’t been heard or seen since, [he’s] probably in the Witness Protection Program. And the … White House has not called for a return to talks, which would be the worst possible response. It would be a reward for an act of aggression.

On some Tea Party leaders calling for social issues to be brought into the mix:

It would be a fatal error if they expanded away from or distracted from their emphasis on the size of government. It’s the size of government, it’s debt, it’s spending that galvanized the movement and attracted all the independents that resulted in the election results in November. It would be a terrible mistake if they strayed from the original principles.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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