[TODAY]Can North Korea tame neo-cons?It is regrettable that Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and a leading Israeli politician, has emerged as a key figure who represents the political ideals of President George W. Bush’s second administration inaugurated Friday. Mr. Sharansky is treated almost as a mentor to Mr. Bush. Next to the Bible, his book “The Case For Democracy” may be read most avidly by Mr. Bush at present. Vice President Dick Cheney was infatuated with Mr. Sharansky, and neo-conservatives embraced his solutions to terrorism. Borrowing from the book’s subtitle, “The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror,” the new U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, declared a war against tyranny.
Who is Mr. Sharansky? He was a Jewish dissident in the former Soviet Union, which former President Ronald Reagan defined as “the evil empire.” The Brezhnev administration naturally arrested Mr, Sharansky. While he was in prison, the neo-cons of the Reagan administration pulled the former Soviet Union into the arms race, including the “Star Wars” program, which required an astronomical budget and drove the country to collapse. Human rights organizations across the world, including Jewish-Americans, put pressure on the Gorbachev administration.
As a result, Mr. Sharansky was released and immigrated to Israel in 1986. He became politically very successful and has held the post of minister many times as one of the right-wing leaders of the Likud party.
His suggestion that Islamic terrorism can be wiped out by spreading democracy in the Middle East shook the minds of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and the neo-cons. One of the hidden purposes with which the neo-conservatives in Washington started a war against Iraq was to democratize the Middle East and build a condominium that the United States and Israel could jointly manage. In this regard, Mr. Sharansky and the neo-cons were bound to share the same “code.” Persuaded by Mr. Sharansky’s view, Mr. Bush made a speech suggesting to spread the flower of freedom in the barren land of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Also, Mr. Bush reversed previous U.S. policy on the Middle East, contending that democratization of Palestine is the precondition for establishing an independent state of Palestine.
However boisterously realists may tell him that democracy cannot be forced from the outside because it is the result of the evolution of domestic politics, Mr. Bush, brainwashed by Mr. Sharansky, believes that the best antidote to terror and tyranny is democracy. Is Mr. Bush aware of Mr. Sharansky’s hidden conviction that such power of democracy comes from the muzzle of the United States? As long as the shadow of Mr. Sharansky lingers around, we can’t expect peace in the Middle East.
This was also the background to Ms. Rice’s naming six countries, including North Korea, as “outposts of tyranny.” Ms. Rice’s remarks are redolent of the neo-cons. Her inclusion of Belarus, but exclusion of Uzbekistan, from the six outposts drops the moral weight of her words. Uzbekistan along with Pakistan is qualified to be called an outpost of tyranny, but the United States needs cooperation from the two countries for wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and the long-term war on terrorism.
Ms. Rice emphasized diplomacy and dialogue. But it sounds like she intends to revise the unilateral foreign policy of the first term Bush administration. She excluded military action against the outposts of tyranny. This is what differs from the Bush Doctrine: The United States will not hesitate to launch a pre-emptive strike against any country threatening the United States and the world since Mr. Bush made “axis of evil” remarks in 2002. What then are the means to eliminate outposts of tyranny? If military action is excluded, it will be diplomatic and economic pressure.
To Mr. Bush’s remarks of the “axis of evil” in 2002, North Korea responded by creating a second nuclear crisis. The future of the resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem through multilateral dialogue depends on North Korea’s reaction to Ms. Rice’s remarks.
As far as the North Korean nuclear issue is concerned, her remarks can be an expression of her strong will to solve the nuclear problem through dialogue.
At a sensitive time when concerned parties try to bring North Korea back to the six-way talks, it is better not to make pungent remarks. But in the Bush administration, there still remains a view that North Korea is evil, as does Mr. Sharansky’s view, shared by Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice, that democracy is the means of removing tyranny.
With absolute trust from President Bush and freedom from Vice President Cheney, Ms. Rice will be a secretary of state no less powerful than John Foster Dulles during the Eisenhower administration and Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration. This is the reality.
I advise that North Korea refrain from responding emotionally and look at Ms. Rice’s remarks from a broad perspective.
* The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Young-hie