[EDITORIALS]A Lesson in Diplomacy for BushWith Thursday's release of the 24 crew members of the American surveillance plane held in China, a resolution to the diplomatic dispute caused by the midair collision of a Chinese fighter with the U.S. spy plane has been found. Averting a showdown by diplomatic compromise is fortunate not only for the two protagonists but also for South Korea, which is effected by discord between the two nations.
Of course, full-fledged negotiations are next. Heated verbal jousting is expected over an investigation of the cause of the accident, the return of the American aircraft and a plan to prevent similar incidents from recurring. Washington is also facing a decision on the sales of weapons to Taiwan, at the end of April. If four Aegis-class destroyers make the list of weapons, the Washington-Beijing conflict may escalate into a new level.
Wednesday, the United States submitted a resolution on human rights in China to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Washington's official stance about Beijing's request of support for hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics will be worth noting. These possible elements of discord make it difficult to expect smooth sailing between the two nations despite the ending of the standoff.
In the process of settling the midair collision, Washington and Beijing consequently achieved a "win-win" outcome and saved face by stepping back. If President George W. Bush had pressed ahead with his initial hard-line stance, the relations between the two countries could have plunged into catastrophe.
The world is watching nervously the Bush Administration's diplomatic unilateralism, which puts forward "diplomacy of strength." His administration is pushing for a national missile defense system despite world opposition. With regard to North Korea, the Bush administration is likely to place strength, not dialogue, in the foreground. There are limitations to strength-based diplomacy. Sometimes concessions and compromises are more effective. We hope Mr. Bush has learned this lesson from the standoff with China.