writing this book and what kind of impact you hope it will have. >> i'm glad you didn't see the country as one of the other topics. the reason i wanted to write this book -- the reason i left the government in 2007i had no desire to read about north korea. i'd been dealing with the issue for three years involved in the negotiations seeing everything really close up and i just didn't have a desire to write it then but five years later, and given the situation that north korea was in it seemed like a good opportunity to write a little bit about my hid
experiences were were and that u.s. policy would in the more general audience because this is the sort of issue the educated reader doesn't know a lot about its history. they see headlines and tests about irrational leaders and all these sort of things and i just thought i would be good to write a book that people could look to as a sort of comprehensive assessment of the history, the family, the economics, politics, the human-rights situation, the nuclear problem they could look to every time they have a question mahmoud was going on with north korea, so i wouldn't call what a scholarly dhaka the wind does have footnotes and is written to a more general audience that might be interested in trying to learn something about this country on the far side of the planet.
>> host: the book also has a point of view i think is informed by your experience in the bush administration. how did you decide to infuse it with that plank of view which arguments about who north korea's future who that's different from a street history i would say? >> i think any history has an opinion in it and i think in this case particularly the part about the u.s. policy certainly they were not formed by my own experiences dealing with the north koreans and the bush administration but i also thought i tried to give it an objective of the in the overall view that every u.s. administration going back to ronald reagan has tried to deal with this problem. ronald reagan had his own
engagement, george h. w. bush did, clinton did, george w. bush and barack obama all of did what with, so while i think there are some of my own personal views on how i thought president bush handled the situation there is probably things their readers might disagree with there's also things in their their readers would be surprised about in terms of what president bush sought in diplomacy with north korea which isn't something we normally they would associate with president bush's views on north korea so that was a natural thing where i could add something on this that perhaps other authors of written on the topic wouldn't be able to. >> you don't necessarily take the perspective in your evaluation of the other administration but you do give the kind of review of the success and failure of other administrations in dealing with the issue will.
i guess the basic thesis is that north korea is the impossible state because no one inside is in power to overthrow with and no one on the outside cares enough to risk the cost of changing it and i want to ask about both of those with. in particular starting with no one is in power to overthrow why do you think that has been the case in especially from the comparative politics perspective this really makes north korea and now a lawyer compared to what we saw in the former soviet union. >> i think that observation is quite accurate. when we look at the regimes in the air and spurring all of which have had leaders in power longer than the former head recently deceased leader they will collapse and north korea continues to survive, so that alone is evidence that nobody in the system is in my power to
overthrow it. i think it's also just because as you know the very strict controls that exist in the country is a society in which roi to use the term strong state would be an understatement. this is about the strongest state in the control it has on the society and on political freedoms and even the way people think so for that reason it's very difficult to imagine that there could be a group within the society that could speak out and challenge the use that these things just don't happen in korea, so that's why it has lasted for this long i think because in spite of a lot of its problems, economic problems, human rights problems it has lasted this long and it's because no one within the system is capable of changing it.
>> but there are forces for change going on and if you talk about the market position, information flows. you know, it's maybe post until the terrie hanft but we are obviously not the place there is an organized opposition. how long do you think it is going to take to see the evolution of politics of north korea to the point is this possible? >> guest: it's a good question and as political scientist we're supposed to be able to determine when these sorts of things happen when you reach a critical tipping point, but i don't think we can. i don't think we can say with any degree of accuracy with the tipping point in terms of one society is ready to act operative and to simply be follow the rules of the current political system. in the case of mercury as you
say in the book i talk about the element that is new in this picture in the growing markets in the country starting from the famine of the 90's in which people basically had to sell the was the start of a market in a system that never had markets before and that has been going on now for 15 years so there is this element that wasn't there in the past that's created more of an independent mind by the people in north korea and not being solely reliant on handouts from the government, but when exactly that is when to reach a point where the system will tip it is hard to say. >> host: how do you think the state is adapting to some of the changes? >> guest: part of the way is trying to crack down certainly on the unofficial markets that have existed and some of the
officials markets. there have been efforts of reform what you might call the reform in north korea some of the economic cooperation projects with the affluent south korea but these have largely been aimed at bringing hard currency in to help the regime not so much to create real market reform in the country, and so i think what we are seeing now which we do see efforts that engage in the outside world the north korean leadership is doing this because not because they're seeking necessarily to create a better life for their people. >> host: in what ways do you think the protests could emerge ortiz think it is free to be a case where anything that happens is just going to be stamped out paxson do you see possibilities for the eletes tolerating certain forms of this?
>> guest: right now it's hard to imagine that and the question is to whether you can -- at what point we will see either toleration of dissent or the emergence of dissent. as the social scientists we can't predict that but what we can do is point to the sort of preconditions that exist that could lead to that and so i think certainly the market mentality is one of these things. but, you know, it's very hard to say. there's not a lot of evidence that this regime is tolerant of any sort of dissent. there's not a lot of evidence that they have tried to listen to the content of what of the protest has taken place and of course it goes without saying that this is a country that's very hard to get any information on what is happening inside of the country so when we talk
about protests we hear anecdotes and stories of things that might have happened in this country unit or that city, but we really don't know and it is such a sealed country yet i think when the day comes where it opens up or however it opens opposite collapses and you see unification like germany, i think we will learn a lot about what sort of political dissent existed within the country but it's very hard to find that today. >> host: do you see the regime has really rigid and therefore more likely to crack or do you think that it's flexible in the sense that it has rolled through now despite incredible global changes in the international environment? how should we evaluate the character of the regime to have a sense of what might come later on?
>> guest: i think it is more on the brutal end of the spectrum in the regime that will cracked rather than one that has been managed to muddle through. i think the reason it has been able to is because the second factor we talked about at the outset of the conversation. it's managed not because of anything internal in the system but because of what is happening outside of north korea and that is this dynamic where nobody really wants to put in the effort to change it or to solve the problem and there's one country in particular that wants to ensure that there are no changes or unstable occurrences within the country. >> host: that is the second part of north korea nobody cares enough to risk changing it and really i think there is quite
striking when we look at the history especially of how the human rights concerns have motivated desire for international intervention in many other parts of the world, think about rwanda, kosovo, you know, bosnia, and yet somehow north korea hasn't been subject to that same international activism despite the fact that arguably the human rights conditions are just as bad certainly for large portions of the population. how is it that this is the case? what makes north korea immune to that sort of focus of the international community? >> guest: when we see international community we have to be clear what we mean in the developed west and there's certain issues the developed west has taken up in terms of
human-rights. you mentioned some of them. very clearly they've taken of these causes. there are others, sudan, tibet, others that have been taken to a great extent by the international community but north korea isn't. for two reasons, first is successful efforts by the regime to ensure this remains a nameless and faceless policy issue and not a personal story of the personification of a story that the average american if you will somehow be influenced by or take up a cause for. many of the north koreans who defect the border with china are sent back by the chinese on buses with the curtains drawn so there's nobody that can secede a name or face with this terrible human rights situation in north
korea. by example, south korea during its military your duty military dictatorships have this person that eventually won the nobel peace prize and later became the president of south korea and became lionized as a voice, has a face for space activism and south korea. so you have these personalities that can be identified with a problem and the north koreans have been good and not allowing that to happen and the chinese have encompassed in that so that is one of the reasons why it hasn't been taken. the other is i think it just hasn't captured the imagination of some major personality in the west. i know this may sound a bit caddied but practically i think it is true when somebody like
richard deer takes up to that or mia farrow to accept chinese policies in darfur. this gives a resonance to the issue that you don't -- you wouldn't normally see. in the case of mercury we just haven't had that. we haven't had an individual does that. one of the things we are seeing more of and the stories have been in a book as well as americans are learning moral stories can of these defectors getting out of mercury. there's been several books written recently about the detractors that have left and managed to escapes telling their stories and i think that certainly helps but still, compared to other cases of human rights we just don't see the same sort of resonance with regards to the issue
>> host: another distinctive feature that could have an impact on the human-rights observations by the international community is the fact that north korea has been on the strive to become a nuclear weapons state and i think that is particularly interesting when we look at iraq you were in the bush administration for part of the time this issue was flying out and it turns out we decided to attack iraq and overthrow saddam hussein. he didn't have nuclear weapons, the north koreans are jubilee had but we decided not to pursue that course of action with. how do you see the difference between the two? >> guest: it's a tough question to answer without recounting the whole history of why the bush administration went into iraq.
that wasn't my area of responsibility so i'm not really capable of commenting on that but i think in the case of north korea there are two issues. the puzzle is why iraq -- notte why iraq instead of north korea, but if in iraq and why not also north korea? i think there's two answers. the first is that you have china china assets from the border with north korea. the last thing the united states or china wants is some sort of confrontation that would somehow cause them to butt heads as they did in 1953, so i think any time there is a serious thought given to some sort of military action this is constantly at the top, not even the top even halfway up the escalation ladder this is constantly the concern that i
think every u.s. president has had to think about seriously, so that is certainly one of the reasons, the china factor, and the other is that we, the united states went into iraq or afghanistan because it became the top foreign policy issue on which the head ministrations of a resolution. now, we can debate whether there was the right or wrong finger. many americans think it was the wrong thing. many americans think nothing was resolved and, you know, that's a completely different question. i think the plant for korea is i don't really think that the north korea issue has risen to that level of priority. it's been a crisis the you want to solve at least in the sense of preventing it from becoming a bigger crisis through diplomacy
but the united states hysterically when it sought to solve a problem it has been willing to use both force and diplomacy to try to solve the problem and i think in the case of north korea it is just not registered like that and that isn't specific to any administration. we have had crises in north korea and successes of the illustrations and a free ad lustration has made the same calculation. you reach a crisis with north korea are we willing to go all the way out to the end to solve this or do we want a solution that will at least part it momentarily and put on diplomatic tracks, free said and then move on to the other issues that most concern us whether it is the domestic economic situation or iraq or afghanistan or syria or the middle east peace process to read these sent to the casino to be the more important issues in the policy. >> host: the other issue that makes iraq different from north korea is the alliance what we
see the panics of the alliance play into our ability to address the top concerns that the u.s. has in the program? >> guest: i think undeniably when we look at the situation and the alliance with corrine is more important than any policy we have towards north korea. south triet is a key ally for the united states today and a major partner in a lot of international initiatives around the world. big trading partner. all these sorts of things make south korea extremely important in terms of the position in asia and there's always been the tension in the relationship when it comes to north korea because the different governments and the democracies of which tend to be more progressive to seek more engagement and others that tend
to be more conservative which follows a tough have with regard to the north so for the united states it's a question of sort of sinking up with whatever government is there a time as the deal with the latest mercury in crisis, for example when i was in government and the bush administration we had a progressive government in south korea the was quite engaging oriented and willing to count them as a good deal of behavior in order to fulfil its vision of trying to seek long-term reconciliation with the country in the north and the bush administration was not as enamored with that particular strategy. i think currently you have an obama administration and the conservative government right now that tend to be very much on the same page when it comes to north korea because both of them after having been burned by are
really of the mind to kind of hold tight and firm and require that they meet certain conditions before we have another round of diplomacy, so i've always said 75% of the policy is our softer yen policy in the sense we need to stay sync up with our allies and with japan also and our other major ally in russia whenever we are dealing with this problem. >> another aspect of the book to talk about this president bush's interest in the human rights situation in korea and you mentioned them as having been a major influence on president bush's thinking, and of course he had the author of the book in the white house and had other refugees in the white house in
the japanese obstructing so he took the kind of a bully pulpit approach but my impression was that the human-rights envoy that was appointed wasn't a major part of the picture in terms of the policy. now we have the obama administration we haven't seen that the refugees in the oval office but we have seen an envoy that actually went to north korea and talked with the north koreans and raised human-rights with them all the wood was a relatively short conversation. what do you see as the merits of those approaches? >> i think it's great that the administration has been able to make a trip to north korea, i
think that's great. the more we can open the dialogue with these issues with the north the better. i think part of what he was doing well was to try to negotiate a humanitarian assistance package in terms of food more than the human rights abuses but the fact that he was there i think was important. as you know the dialogue with the north koreans on human rights is kind of a ridiculous dialogue because you can tell them you need to improve your human rights situation and the response to you will be and we've had this conversation at the official level the response will be you the united states have human rights problems, too. that isn't a considerable discussion, so i think what president bush wanted to do was he wanted to make this an issue that people knew about, and as
he put it, he wanted to do something. he wanted his presidency by the time he left the office he wanted to do something that could help to measurably improve the lives of the north korean people so there were two things in particular. the first was that he helped create the first resettlement program for the north korean refugees in the united states. none had existed prior to this request as a big program that assisted and the would be to extend expected but from another country and outside of south korea and for a country like the united states to say we are going to take a north korean defectors that want to settle in the united states was a big step. the administration didn't try to to to the horn publicly look at us we are doing this big thing but it was a very big and important step that sort of set an example out there and put a
marker in the ground saying the united states isn't just talking about the human rights improvements and north korea is trying to do something. the second thing as you mentioned is he brought attention to the issue by bringing in defective, people whose books he has read, stories he has known, intimate details that he's known very well about all of these folks and talk about the situation and then made a press statement saying he met with these people and wanted to see the human rights situation and proven north korea. again, giving names and faces to this sort of problem helps to give it a broad reference and so in the book i go through some of the experiences of when they came into the oval office, walking them into the oval office, watching the respond, watching president bush respond and they were truly memorable experiences and so in the end
these things didn't solve the problem of mercury and they are not opening up the camps. they are not allowing the commissioner for refugees into the country. all these sort of things are not happening, but when you are limited in terms of what you can do everybody respects sovereignty so you are not granted a crashing into the country. these were very tangible concrete steps that tried to put this on the screen and create more international attention because creating that sort of knowledge base is the first step to try to address a problem like this. >> host: the book also i guess goes through it illustrates some of the wrong decisions they made in trying to build their own economy and this is quite
striking because as you note in the book north korea was the more powerful economic part of the peninsula compared to south korea for a long time until the 70's and then you also talk about north korea's illicit activities, and this will also an area of focus in the bush administration that we don't hear that much about these days so i'm wondering to you think these activities are continuing? are we succeeding in terms of customers for some of its military equipment and missile sales? to ec activity in terms of trying to counterfeit cigarettes or u.s. money? where do you think that stands at this point? >> this is sort of a fascinating story. the notion that here is a country that's basically one-third of its economy is based on illicit activity as you
mentioned, counterfeiting drugs, counterfeiting cigarettes, counterfeiting the u.s. currency. the north koreans counterfeit the 100-dollar bill. it is known in the profession a few well as the super node because they managed somehow to acquire a printing press, the eink and the paper that is used for the production of hundred dollar bills. the difference is the printing plates they manage to require our brand awareness the ones the u.s. treasury uses are surely old and so the imperfections the you see in a treasury note you don't see any north korean note. that's why it is called a super nova and so this is a part of their economy, and so during the bush administration, efforts were taken to try to stop this through a series of sanctions
the were aimed at trying to target the account of companies there were known to be involved in illicit activities, and i think the reason we don't hear more about it today is because these activities have been fairly successful in that the north koreans probably do not feel that they can do the same sort of things that the use to do for many years when it came to making money through this. >> host: so it's actually that the international community and the u.s. are getting better at eliminating those markets for north korea for those kind of activities? >> guest: i think so. i think that's why we are not hearing much about it today, apply also think that more of the financial institutions become much more wary of handling the north korean accounts and mercury in money so
that has also caused them to think about whether they want to be seen as being this financially liable asset that every bank regulator and bank president doesn't want to see in the institution. >> host: one of the other cases that's related to that you have a direct experience with was the bank of delta asia where the u.s. treasury issued an advisory about that bank and the possibility that was engaging in money laundering or handling some of these counterfeit notes. how do you see -- that occurred at the point in time it looked like there was went be some progress and negotiations and then everything stalled out. do you think it was the case that stalled the diplomacy?
and as we look today at more satellite launches, if third nuclear test by north korea, it seems like a lot of people are calling for re-examination of the financial area as replicable so basically, you know, did it work from your perspective and is it applicable to today? >> the first thing i would point out is the irony of the description that you gave which is that on the one hand when the u.s. government pursued the financial sanction in 2005, 2006 it was widely criticized of something to was both an effective and hurting the diplomacy and yet today as you said there are people that are clamoring for it as a way to sanction north korea because
they see it as a powerful tool trying to influence north korean behavior, but in 2005 it's this particular action as you said it was a treasury department advisory the u.s. financial institutions to be aware of doing business in a particular bank because the accounts related to north korea were believed to be involved in money-laundering. this in the end was a law enforcement action, something i think the u.s. government had to do. it's a country is counterfeiting your currency that is technically an act of war and so they were obligated to take action with regard to the protection of the u.s. financial institution. as many people that follow this note the fact that is that it had a ripple effect. this was against a very small bank in china that then caused every other bank regulator and
bank president and financial institution of the world to say wait a second if the u.s. isn't dealing with this bank because they are concerned about the accounts maybe we should look at the accounts and our bank said you had a major impact on track think it had a very big impact. did this mean an action to submarine that a policy that was taking place? i really don't think so. like i said it was a law enforcement action, something had to leave to something happening on a truck with the diplomacy. all of us were participating in the diplomacy were also participating in the decision making process on this particular action suit in the end was something that had to be done and it did cause a delay in the negotiations but as we saw
leader the negotiations eventually came back on line and lead to two very important agreements one of which free throws the program and a second agreement which naturally led to the dismantling of important pieces of the program and it's pretty safe to say that the plutonium program, the based nuclear program is no longer functional and i think that was one of the accomplishments the united states made in terms of diplomacy and it can to stop in north korea's nuclear program. now we have a whole new as you know a whole new program or programs that there was concern about not just the plutonium program but the iranian program in terms of the accomplishments for made through the sanctions
at a time these new sanctions i think were quite effective at getting north korea to give up pieces of their program. >> host: do you think that is today or has that time passed? >> guest: that is a hard question to answer. again i'm obviously not as close with it as i have been in the past, so i don't know for example if the north koreans have adjusted. i presume they have to what the scene in the action in 2005. i think on the one hand they are probably adjusting and trying to find a work around so that they are not subject the same sort of sanctions. on the other hand, when the united states pursued this it was an advisory to the u.s. financial institution. it wasn't something that was supported by the u.n. security council resolution. on the other hand, today after the first nuclear test against
the obama administration in may of 2009 and a security council resolutions the gift authority for pursuing these sort of financial sanctions, so i think of the one hand the north koreans probably try hard to find worker rounds so they could avoid being subject to the same sort of sanctions but on the other hand of the united states now has the international authority to pursue these things in a way that they did not under the bush administration. >> host: one other question on this you talked about a resumption of the diplomacy of course as a part of that we gave back the money was being held under the law enforcement action that had occurred. i am sure the north koreans probably looked at that as exoneration for what they had done. how do you view the fact that the north koreans put their
money back? >> guest: i think the main lesson they learned in the gannet is evident in the fact that we don't hear much about these sort of activities that they were undertaking the main lesson they learned from that whole episode is that they can't continue to do business this way, they can't continue to try to counterfeit other countries' currencies or to sell fake drugs or fake cigarettes, they just can't do that anymore so was the main lesson that they learned and the fact that they came back to the diplomacy and the negotiations in earnest to freeze their programs and to dismantle them to me was a function of the sort of course of diplomacy. i think it was the concern about the financial reputation and everything that came with it that brought them back to the table and led them to make these agreements. they certainly got things in
return. the got energy assistance, new sets of political discussions with the united states come a variety of assistance from south korea, they got things in return for this but that's the nature of diplomacy. i think the driving force behind -- i know there are some who would disagree with this driving force behind that what were these sanctions that really put a bite on that? >> host: they are driving even despite the apparent agreements that had been made that were designed actually to deal with the plutonium part of the program. but let me go back and ask about the north korean prospect of reform they are still cash hungry. maybe we don't see any immediate evidence that it's committed to reform the of course the chinese
are always there suggesting they should follow their path. what is the way to cultivate an environment where north korean can move in a reformed direction quickset despite its obvious they are looking for cash. but is there a way of drawing them into a positive rather than pursuing the the negative activities we've been talking about? >> the positive stuff that's been on the table really i think for a successive administrations and i know there's always discussions about the extent of the current administration from the bush administration different from the obama administration and how they dealt with north korea but in the book i go through the history of these and in the end the packaging may have been different but there is a positive half as you know well
which is in return for giving up the nuclear program, the united states community would provide security guarantees, provide economic assistance, it would provide energy assistance, it would provide political normalization, it would provide money, it would provide a regional security environment in which they could feel safe and secure. all these sort of things in return for nuclear weapons but that has not worked. has failed. it has failed for every administration bring back to george w. bush, and i think with the obama administration we have reached the end of the road in terms of this because i think many would argue that the obama administration at least in terms of its intention was probably the most forward leaning u.s. administration to come into office when it came to the north korean problem. again now it is in a position in distinguishable from the harder
line that the bush administration took even the clinton administration took during their two terms. so that is the half and they don't seem to want to take at. what can be done in the interim? i think the most important thing that can be done is to try to get more information into north korea. more information in terms of what is going on in the outside world in terms of market position and the internet and cell phones. i think this is the only way to make inroads into seeing any change in the country but from the perspective of the leadership of economic reform is a double-edged sword because of the one hand, they need the economic reform as you said they need money, the need food, the need the sort of things. on the other hand, when their regimes like this open up its
releases all sorts of political forces that inevitably lead to a loss of political control, even possibly the collapse of the regime and that is not a bargain the leadership particularly the new leadership that is an experienced and has just come into power and prices political control that's the last thing they want to consider at this moment so i'm not very optimistic on the process for reform at this time. >> host: the way you frame it is very much a u.s. way of framing basically a deal by which the nuclear issue is resolved in exchange for the foreign power. the chinese i think may have a different idea about what would be necessary that is not of the quid pro quo perhaps. it's about the question of essentially you follow us and you can find a sustainable path. i think that is basically the
argument. the question on what we've seen in china, north korea hasn't necessarily seemed to be willing to dip its toe in the water but what would a north korean don't shop looks like? how would we know if we began to see a north korean leadership the was moving in that direction and could a north korean shop them succeed? >> well you know, i had many friends when i talk to those friends they are always optimistic about the prospects for north korea, and i never understood why. when you ask them they say it's very clear why because they have to study china and they have seen china come from where it came in the cultural revolution and the great leap forward to be in the country does today and a big country like china as complex and as complicated as it
is can do that, then certainly north korea can do that. but again i think there are two big differences here. the first is that china had gone shopping and as you say, he was a charismatic leader and a larger than life figure. he is not in north korea. it's an inexperienced 29-year-old running the country now it's that is the first problem. the second problem is the chinese said to get rich and glorious and making money was okay even if it meant giving up a degree of political control, and for the current leadership at least for the foreseeable future there is nothing more important right now than political control and that looks to be the case for the last leadership and it looks to be the case of the current
leadership. i think there are hopes that this young fellow and the new leader of north korea would spend part of his life in switzerland and secondary school but that he was hopeful that he might be, but again, given the recent crisis and the missile test and the field a deal that the obama administration tried to reach i don't think there is a lot of hope right now that he shows signs of being. maybe there's a military general somewhere in north korea that is unhappy with the current situation that is unhappy with a young leadership that is making our decisions that has a different view on things. maybe there is azoff kurri and in the north korean but we don't know, so right now the prospects don't look very good for that sort of a reform or that sort of charismatic leadership.
>> host: some people would point to his uncle as one possible former research certainly he's had some international experience. it's hard to judge necessarily with he moves in the direction of reform but let's say that somebody emerged to play this role but within the same system. how do you think the u.s. government would be able to respond to that circumstance? >> i think they would certainly welcome somebody like that but, you know, the obvious problem, first i think they would welcome someone like that, someone like a senior figure interested in the reforms and interested in taking on north korea to a better place. if there were someone like the
generals that we see today in north korea that are looking to make a big turn in terms of their own system i think the united states would welcome that but the 800-pound gorilla in the room even if that were the scenario it still remains the nuclear issue and this is where i think when it comes down to its core and the chinese and the u.s. really differ because for the chinese i think they certainly want reform and to promote reform as you say, but they are also willing to say in order to promote reform, we should do things like give them a peace treaty and normalize relations as presets if you will to promote reform. i think the problem with the united states is that is just not possible and every administration and going back to george h. w. bush has made
pretty clear that the number one priority is the nuclear program welcomes reform in north korea but must come with the denuclearization. we have alliances in the region hour position rests on these alliances and i don't think any of our allies let alone the united states where people to count minimizing their relations with a country that remains a nuclear weapon state completely outside of the regime. it would basically destroy the non-proliferation treaty regime and would have a dramatic effect on our alliances in the region, so you know, this is very difficult to match up and has been the basic problem every time we talk about it getting a big deal with north korea. >> host: let me go back and ask about that because in the book to talk about the issues in
the denuclearization and a lot of people fought if north korea conducted that would constitute a paradigm shift in the region and of course you were there when they conducted its first nuclear test. was their something about the reaction in particular that surprised you? how did you see the response to that playing out, and he counted the response that you were involved with in the bush administration -- what should we draw from that in the context of a possible additional nuclear test coming? >> guest: removed to fit international unity in terms of publishing the north.
in which china and russia signed on to these and unanimously condemned north korea sanctions for their interactions so in the short term that is a game changer and since then the north koreans have done something egregious for the most part chinese and the russians had gone along when it comes to nuclear tests. but in the longer-term retrospect that is about the only real change. it didn't create the service can change in mentality in the way the chinese dealt with north korea. i think there's a lot of debate and china as to whether they should simply drop this ally, a drop this legacy of the cold war and really ended this regime that doesn't happen if anything
the chinese have drawn closer to north korea over the past few years in both economically and in terms of publicly supported the leadership's it doesn't create a major change that people thought it would. part of it is the fact the status quo by is if you will. it's not to try to solve the problem and that is a political choice that the administrations in washington and seoul korea and tokyo and beijing and moscow these are traces that they make the calls in the end at least for now we stability eclipse to peace and prosperity and the status quo equates to the peace and prosperity of the most economically vibrant region of the world. do people want that or do they want to go down this very
violent path with north korea potentially very violent where we try to solve the problem? it is very clear with every government wants to do. they want to maintain the status quo. >> host: that really brings us to the question of creating the unification where it seems there's a big gap between the u.s. vision and chinese fishing and with the south koreans want in the future as the bullish prospects for achieving unification and you also dealt to some degree with some of the challenges that would emerge to achieve the unification and how do you see that process playing out in terms of that is how they
continue to survive. >> guest: i think the question is right i don't think the united states and south three on the one hand and china on the letter and is the same view of the unification in the past two presidents with a south korean counterparts and desperation is in the single torian unit for peace and the international relations in this world to unify the korean peninsula the chinese don't want to see the unification they just don't it's become clearer and clearer in the past couple of years and there is a conflict just between the two sides when it comes to that. in terms of the future and unification it's impossible to say how it would happen just like no one could predict how the conditions under which
german unification would have been. but i think what we can't focus on is the question of whether countries in the region are ready and willing to take on the task of unification. ten years ago the general consensus was unifications are difficult, much harder than german, too dangerous and should be something that should be pushed off as far as you can into the future, two or three generations if you will. basically not my problem. as i talked about in the book of the attitude on that is slowly estranging now in part because the situation is getting worse and worse. i think while no one wants to try to push for free over the edge there is a growing feeling that it is coming and we must be
prepared and to even see places like japan or the north korean threat is the biggest existential threat to japan today. while the one hand the japanese are always concerned about reunified resurgent nationalism in korea they see the current situation as being quite dangerous, potentially very unstable, and i think their attitudes are changing on this, too. so, that is in the book we look and talk about both of the things we need to watch. no one can say when it's going to happen. the question is are you prepared for it and that is the operative question i think for the societies and the governments in the region where a thank you no one wanted to talk about it at all there is much more openness and willing to talk about this
now. >> host: i want to ask you just to close after kim jong il died he wrote a piece in the times and said north korea as we know it is over. so far we see a fair amount of continuity. i guess the question is how durable is the impossible state? [laughter] >> guest: well, you know, it all depends on how you define north korea. i think our triet as we know with the death of kim jong il is over in the sense that as i talk about in the book i think we are entering a new phase where you have a young and tested leadership with immense challenges in terms of maintaining his own position in the system that is also dealing with a crumbling economy and an
acute food problem and at the same time, the society is increasingly influenced by the market mentality. the last time you had a leadership transition in 1994 when the first leader died and the second came into place. from that sense they are not like the north korea in the past and sure it hasn't collapsed and has not changed since the death of kim jong il, but we are only talking a few months. this new regime in north korea has only been in power for a few months. and in the broad scope of history there's been many transitional regime's that have lasted months, years before something major has happened in terms of change, so i think the verdict is still out. we cannot simply assume everything will go smoothly and that they will be able to muddle through forever because prior to