Sunday | January 26, 2003
Who Lost South Korea?
While our attention is focused on Iraq and the president’s SOTU, North Korea has temporarily fallen off of our collective radar screens. Over the last couple of weeks, the Bush Administration has gotten the message out that they are now engaged in diplomacy with the South and regional allies over forging a consensus to push the issue to the UN Security Council. North Korea responded over the last two days that the issue as far as they are concerned rests between them and Washington only. In essence, as many have said since Day One of this debacle, what the North really wants is face time with Washington, some stroking that they are a serious player in the region, and assurances that we won’t invade another charter member of the Axis of Evil club. Yes, it is petty posturing, and pathetic for a nation to manufacture a crisis just so that its leaders can have their egos assuaged (North Korea, not Bush).
But the Bush Administration’s bungling of North Korea through its hard line “our way or the highway” stance since it came into office is now leading to a situation that even the most diehard right-winger would deplore. As Howard French points out in a great analysis in the New York Times today, Bush is managing to push the South away from us and towards better relations with the North and more ominously, China.
And where are the GOP hawks on this? Remember the ruckus raised by GOP representatives like Christopher Cox of California about the alleged influence and campaign contributions from China in the 1996 elections? If French is correct that the South sees its interests better served by distancing itself from the US and building a better relationship with China, to the point of asking us to reduce or eliminate our troop presence on the peninsula, Bush will be guilty of something more damaging to our national security than anything Johnny Cheung and Bill Clinton allegedly ever did.
But it will help Cheney to sell Star Wars, won’t it?
When can we expect hearings into this, Representative Cox?