[GLOBAL EYE]How to deal with Bush, NorthNow that the U.S. presidential election has come to an end, there’s more talk about how it will affect the Korean Peninsula. Even complaints, almost habitual among our politicians when they confront the unknown, about our diplomatic line-up are emerging. Those who blather on about things that have nothing to do with the essence of the election do not properly understand why President Bush was re-elected.
Bush was not re-elected because of his successful foreign policies. Nor was he re-elected because the American economy has improved compared to the past. Bush’s United States of America is moving according to a logic that we cannot be a part of.
Predictions that the re-elected president’s policies toward North Korea will change or that there will be changes in the Korean-American alliance are based on an egotistic illusion that North Korea or the Korean Peninsula is extremely important. It is a kind of narcissism that leads one to believe that “the strategic value of Korean Peninsula is very high.”
There will not be any major changes to President Bush’s foreign policies, and these policies will continue to be expressed in a one-sided, arbitrary manner. This, of course, goes for the administration’s North Korea policy too.
Even though the United States proposed six-way talks to handle the North Korean nuclear problem, Washington did not have a clear picture in mind when the parties began to meet. The plan for the six-way talks was to get North Korea’s five neighboring countries to apply pressure on Pyeongyang together.
Under the circumstances, it is hard to think that the United States will easily sit face-to-face with North Korea. On top of that, Washington is confident that China will do, to a certain extent, what it wants, because China places a great deal of importance on its relationship with the United States.
In the end, one might say that President Bush has no clear will to hurry in solving the North Korean nuclear problem. However, Washington is quite confident that it has a plan to punish North Korea in case the North provokes the United States with the export of nuclear substance, about which the Unites States is very sensitive. The United States that North and South Korea have to face has changed a lot over the last few years.
Meanwhile, there are immature politicians in Korea who say they have connections with the U.S. Republican Party. It is time to get the hayseed out of their hair. We have been so lax in our alliance management that, after half a century of alliance, we still do not have a single window through which we can reach the ear of the U.S. president or people around him. For starters, the leader who said that the government “tells the allies what is necessary” actually did not know how to manage allies.
Let us make a few points clear now. First, it is unreasonable to hope for the successfully re-elected Mr. Bush to be generous toward North Korea and lay out a flexible policy. There is no way Mr. Bush’s hatred toward the North Korean system and its leader, Kim Jong-il, will change.
We should concentrate on reviving the six-way talks but also make sure we do not make the mistake of tactlessly encouraging bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea. That is something we should leave for Washington.
Second, reflecting on past experience, a “top-down” way of attempting to solve the North Korea nuclear problem is effective. So we must grab the attention of Vice President Dick Cheney, who is responsible for the diplomatic and security policies of the Bush administration.
President Bush has great confidence in Vice President Cheney because Mr. Cheney plays the role of the second man perfectly, not even stepping in President Bush’s shadow. Therefore the policy of the United States for North Korea is left in the hands of Mr. Cheney, and the future of North Korea will depend a lot on Mr. Cheney’s decisions. That is why we need a strategy to grab Mr. Cheney’s attention, one with the premise that high-level talks between Dick Cheney and Kim Jong-il could be a revolutionary turning point for solving the North Korean nuclear problem and for North Korea-U.S. relations.
We need to find a person close to Mr. Cheney who can get his attention. In addition, this message has to be relayed to him: “High-level talks between North Korea and the United States do not constitute an appeasement measure to the North. Instead, the talks would take place of an ultimatum, where the United States relays its position to the highest leader of North Korea, before taking firm action, to press for Pyeongyang’s ultimate decision.”
If North Korea still does not budge, the logic that it will be easier to get support and participation from international society, whether the United States presents the issue to the United Nations or seeks sanctions against North Korea, has to be relayed. Let’s stop all the fuss and do at least one thing properly.
* The writer is an editorial writer and director of the Research Institute of Unification Culture of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kil Jeong-woo