[TODAY]Bush's Vision Includes Shades of Gray

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[TODAY]Bush's Vision Includes Shades of Gray

Manichaenism, a framework of thought often used by western writers trying to stir up controversy, is a view that regards history as a struggle between light and dark, good and evil.

Manichaenism originated as a third century Persian religion which spread around the world, but disappeared from Europe by the 10th century and from China sometime later than that. It does not tolerate the assumption that there is a gray zone between good and evil.

Manichaenism has been used to explain the diplomatic characteristics of John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration during the 1950s and the Reagan Administration of the 1980s.

Mr. Dulles regarded communism as an evil that cannot coexist with liberal democracy. Mr. Reagan called the Soviet Union "an evil empire."

I believed that the diplomacy of U.S. President George W. Bush is an atavistic resurrection of the Manichaean diplomacy carried out by Mr. Dulles and Mr. Reagan. In the early days of the Bush administration, his team of foreign affairs and national security aides spewed out hard-line comments about North Korea and about the need for strong measures to keep China in check, seeming to echo the positions of Mr. Dulles and Mr. Reagan.

I predicted that the Bush administration, now at a critical decision point in U.S. history, would take the road of strengthening its national power to maintain its status as the only superpower in the world rather than restrain its power for the sake of a well-balanced world order.

Last week, Mr. Bush visited European countries. I expected that this tour would be an important one in confirming Mr. Bush's diplomatic style and the content of his policies, because it was his first full-scale diplomatic tour except for his trip to Mexico. Prior to Mr. Bush's departure, right wing groups in the United States asked him to strengthen U.S. supremacy in a unilateral way in his talks with European leaders.

But Mr. Bush shrugged off their advice, at least during his visit to Europe. He did not practice Manichaean diplomacy this time. He did not accept the recommendation given by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who asked the president to withdraw U.S. armed forces from the Balkans.

Instead, said Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Mr. Bush accepted Secretary of State Colin Powell's opinion that the United States should take an internationalist line and assume the same position as its NATO allies toward the Balkan states.

Mr. Bush succeeded in drawing support for his missile shield plan from some European countries; that was the main purpose of his Europe visit.

Great Britain reaffirmed its support for the missile defense plan; Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Turkey implied their intention to support it. The opposition from Germany and France looks surmountable through more negotiations.

In a speech in Warsaw, Mr. Bush made it clear that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, former republics of the Soviet Union, would join NATO in the near future, an announcement provocative enough to displease Russia. But Mr. Bush praised President Vladimir Putin of Russia as a "honest and excellent leader" during a meeting with him in Slovenia. Mr. Bush told Mr. Putin that U.S. policy toward Europe will be based on the premise of a partnership with Russia.

Even though there were divergences on the missile shield program and NATO's eastward expansion, analysts agreed that Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin established a new milestone in U.S.-Russia relations in their first summit. After five months in office, Mr. Bush seems to have overcome charges that he knows little about international diplomacy. He also appears to be showing some ideological flexibility.

In light of these developments, there are two things to which we must pay attention.

First, if Mr. Bush can reduce tensions in Europe through improved relations between the United States and Russia and as NATO extends eastward, he will be likely to focus his efforts on checking China. Second, we will have to wait to see whether Mr. Bush will eventually accede to Mr. Powell's moderate line toward North Korea.

The recent response from North Korea to Mr. Bush's announcement of his plans for dealing with the North shows that there is a large gap between the two countries. I am concerned about the possibility that U.S.-China relations will deteriorate or at least stagnate, and that those tensions will be obstacles to U.S.-North Korea relations and relations between Seoul and Pyongyang.

But the message from Mr. Bush's Europe visit should inspire some optimism in us. At least in the area of diplomatic policy, Mr. Bush has proved to be not much of a Manichaean, reflecting the passage of time since the days of Mr. Dulles and Mr. Reagan.


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The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Kim Young-hie

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