Schelling on North Korea

I talked about Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling's game theory in an earlier post. Today's WSJ has an interview with Professor Schelling. He offered his great insight on how to deal with North Korea, and also Iran's nuclear problem .

These are very simple and straightforward analyses, total cost vs total benefits. Professor Schelling said,
  • "Iran and North Korea will think of [the nukes] as deterrant weapons...We really ought to give NK some kind of non-aggression assurance...We should volunteer it, on the grounds that the primary motivation for NK to get a nuclear weapon is to make sure the US can never attack." - Qadaffi was scared, there is no reason these two accused as the "axis of evil" is not
  • "US would have a good sense and the cleverness and the ability to enter the black market and engage is what we used to call preclusive purchase...if NK thinks it can sell a nuclear weapon for $1bn, we ought to be in there offering $5bn" - Schelling quoted the outbidding of natural resources in WWII, I would add the successful control of balck market in ex-USSR states, and that it is cheaper to buy out North Korea today than tomorrow
  • He also believes and argued convincingly that bargaining with NK and Iran will not lead to moral hazard, because "it is not a good game to get into" [unless you are labelled an axies of evil?]. I should add that Bush's complacency toward India and Pakistan served as encouragement for NK and Iran.
  • The whole interview provides more insights and discussions, a temporary link is here. It is on Nov 7 WSJ, page A2.
Unfortunately solving the nuke problems are only the second priority for the Bush regime. Their first priority is to turn them into Iraq, and they need the nukes as an excuse. Otherwise, why was common sense never been able to prevail?


Sam Crane said...

Thanks for this post. It is really helpful. I have thought that buying NK out is the best way to go, but Schelling, of course, adds much greater analytic weight to this point of view. Too bad you are right that none of this will matter to Bush Admin. hawks (who must be terrbily frustrated since their wings seem to be clipped for now).

Sun Bin said...

Another problem for Bush is that the current tactic will not be successful in bringing down the NK regime. China survived even worse famine in 1959-62, NK survived its in late 1990s.

Even shutting down its power won't work, as it would just lead to burning trees for heat, and hence ecological diaster.

SK adds to Bush's frustration. They are not willing to see their compatriot suffer to achieve the aim. They are not even worried about the nukes because they seem to be pretty confident that nukes won't be used against them.
Therefore, an invasion is definitely ruled out (apart from the fact that there is no oil, and hence no Halliburton interests to lobby for an invasion)

Red A said...

Yeah, sure, you can buy North Korea out.

It worked for Jimmy Carter in 1994 no?

Sun Bin said...

Some said US were also responsible for the fall-out in the 1990s.