Saturday, December 08, 2007

Conservative Backlash against un-Bush North Korea Policy

The Bush administration’s approach to North Korea raises serious concern among conservatives in the United States and the public in Japan. In return for denuclearization, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill suggested that the United States remove North Korea from the List of Terrorism Sponsoring Countries. However, North Korea is notorious for cheating, and Kim Jong Il could gain to food and energy without completely denuclearizing his country, as it happened in the Clinton era. This is quite un-Bush, and it is quite questionable whether soft line policy is helpful for non-proliferation objectives.

In addition, soft policy against North Korea undermines moral leadership in US foreign policy. It is a repressive regime. North Korean leaders exploit its citizens. It is infamous for kidnapping Japanese, South Korean and other foreign citizens. As mentioned in the previous post, democracy promotion is a key agenda in the post 9-11 world.

Unlike Israel and India, North Korea can never become a strategic partner with the United States to promote a liberal world order. While both Israel and India are trustworthy democracies, North Korea has been a bête noire in the global community.

Unlike Libya, which was bombed in 1986 by the Reagan-Thatcher axis, North Korea has no experience of being defeated by the United States. North Korea has been boasting the victory over the “savage American imperialist” in the Pueblo crisis in 1968. Nor does North Korea face domestic threat of radicalists, which poses serious danger to the Khadafy regime of Libya.

Therefore, any kind of nuclear bargains with nations like India and Libya, are unlikely to work for Kim Jong Il.

Congressional Research Service has released a report, entitled “North Korea: Terrorism List Removal?” on April 6 this year. Regarding terrorism, this report says the following.

Although it is a party to six international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, Pyongyang has not taken substantial steps to cooperate in efforts to combat international terrorism.

As to the Japanese abductee issue, it says “The chronologies of acts of terrorism in the annual Patterns reports shows that the United States defines kidnapping as a terrorist act.”

It seems quite inappropriate to remove North Korea from the list.

In addition, conservative opinion leaders have been critical to a Chaimberlainian appeasement to North Korea. As Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University argues, the United States is capable of fighting both against Iraqi insurgents and North Korean autocrat.

David Frum, Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, warns that realist approaches to North Korea would lead the Bush administration to make the same mistake as the Clinton administration did. Quoting an article in the Boston Globe by Graham Allison, Assistant Secretary of State under the Clinton administration, Frum points out that North Korea wants to reassure they have both bombs and aids. Also, he says that China is concerned with the collapse of North Korea, because a unified Korea would be under American influence. In his view, current negotiation is likely to fail in denuclearizing North Korea. (“Realism is Ugly in North Korea”; Notional Post; June 30, 2007)

Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is more critical to current talk with North Korea. In his article to the Wall Street Journal (“Bush’s North Korea Meltdown”; October 31, 2007) and an interview with Fox News on December 3, Bolton attacks that State Department bureaucracy is obsessed with making a deal first without sufficient consideration to the outcome. Even if the United States succeeds in disabling the Yongbyon reactor, it is not clear how to verify uranium enrichment facilities, he says.

Furthermore, John Bolton raises concern over negative impacts on the US-Japanese alliance, posed by current six-party negotiation. In view of possible US-North Korean compromise without consideration to abductees held by Kim Jong Il, I often hear some Japanese conservatives question the validity of staunch alliance with the United States. Regarding this issue, John Bolton argues as the following.

Thomas Schieffer, the Bush administration's ambassador to Japan, reportedly complained recently to the president that he was "cut out of the process." State should explain why it trusts North Korea more than our ambassador to Tokyo, and why we ignore Tokyo's concerns over North Korea's kidnappings of Japanese citizens.

As Reuter reports on December 4, North Korea takes a delaying tactics in the nuclear negotiation. Hawks are right to question current six-party talks.

Things may change after the forthcoming Presidential Election in South Korea on January 19 next year. South Koreans question current president Roh Moo Hyung’s Sunshine Policy against North Korea. I hope a conservative candidate wins this election.

Consequently, Shocker is Shocker! Harsher resolutions, such as military intimidation as taken in the Cuba crisis, need to be considered.