Time to Get Tough With N. Korea

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2009 6:37 AM CDT
Bill Clinton listens to Laura Ling after she and Euna Lee returned to the United States following months of captivity in North Korea.    (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – Getting Laura Ling and Euna Lee out of North Korea was a cakewalk compared to the real diplomatic struggles between the Obama administration and the rogue nation, writes Nicolas Kristof. The New York Times columnist, who has visited North Korea five times, used to favor engagement with Kim Jong-Il's regime. But amid growing evidence that the North is offering nuclear weapons technology to Burma, "I've reluctantly concluded that we need more sticks."

Not long ago it seemed possible that diplomacy could lead the North to give up its nuke program, the columnist writes, but "these days that seems virtually hopeless." And the relentless propaganda machine inside "the most totalitarian state in history" has crushed any hope of a grass-roots revolution. If it wants to stop Kim, the US should work with allies for more sanctions—even China is "surprisingly cooperative"—and stop nuclear technology shipments, even by force.