US at fault for North Korean nuke program?

A tiresome tendency of many observers of world politics is to blame US policy for, well, practically anything that happens in the world, especially if it’s a bad thing that happens. A recent example of this is efforts by the Chinese government and others to blame US policy for North Korea’s continuing bellicose language and obstinate insistent on continuing nuclear weapons development. This is the fault of the US? I think not, and I’m not the only one who’s skeptical. So is Gordon G. Chang of the World Affairs Journal:

Anyone reflecting on the troubled history between the US and the DPRK would realize that Beijing’s blaming Washington does not stand up to scrutiny. Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first leader and the current supremo’s grandfather, sought nuclear weapons beginning in the 1950s.

The US, in fact, had little contact with his regime after the Korean War. After signing the 1953 armistice, Washington restrained Seoul and urged limited reconciliation with Pyongyang. Moreover, America had been restrained, some would say to a fault, in dealing with serial provocations. North Korea’s acts of war—the seizing of the Navy’s Pueblo and its crew in 1968 and the downing of the EC-121 reconnaissance plane the following year, for instance—went unpunished.


Moreover, Kim Il Sung did not need nukes to keep Americans at bay. His odious regime was protected by the Soviet “nuclear umbrella” every minute of every day. Great Leader Kim had all the security he ever needed—and it was provided without cost. Soviet protection was in addition to North Korea’s conventional and chemical deterrent that was more than sufficient on its own.

In short, thoughout most of its history, even when it had no “need” of nukes to protect itself because it was under the nuclear umbrella of other Communist regimes, North Korea was working on nuclear weapons development anyway. The view that every bad thing in the world and all bad behavior by other regimes is the fault of American policy, and all good developments and good behavior happen almost despite US action is a kneejerk reaction that this observer is very weary of. But I encourage you to click here to read Gordon Chang’s entire piece.

There’s almost always something terrific appearing on World Affairs Journal, by the way.