[EDITORIALS]Bush is firm on NorthIn his State of the Union speech, U.S. President George W. Bush singled out North Korea as one of the countries where freedom does not exist. President Bush said, “More than half the people of our world live in democratic nations,” but he then pointed out that “the other half” lived in oppressive places, the worst of which include Syria, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran.
In his State of the Union speech in 2002, President Bush branded North Korea as one of the three countries that comprised an “axis of evil.” In addition, in 2003 he called the North an “outlaw regime” and in 2004 described the North as the world’s most dangerous regime. Compared to the past, Bush’s remarks regarding North Korea can be seen as having softened. Some interpret the speech as an attempt by Washington not to agitate the North or cause unnecessary friction.
Nevertheless, looking at the overall flow of the speech it’s hard to see it that way. President Bush reemphasized the “spread of democracy” and rejected the idea of isolating the United States from the world. He clearly made this point, saying, “America rejects the false comfort of isolationism.”
Furthermore, Mr. Bush said, “Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal ― we seek the end of tyranny in our world.” There is a big possibility that Washington will continue its basic policy of pressuring North Korea in regards to the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights and illicit activities such as counterfeiting and drug trafficking.
In addition, one has to consider that with an eye on mid-term elections in November, the president had no choice but to focus his speech on domestic issues such as the economy, education, energy and social security. Although some may hope that there will be a change in the Bush administration’s North Korean policy, it would be wrong to see any changes by just looking at a couple of words in his speech. North Korea, which is at odds with the United States over counterfeiting and the resumption of six-party talks, needs to clearly know and understand this.
Our government too needs to consider this and draw a clear line when it comes to North Korean crimes and cooperate with the United States while searching for our own role in persuading the North in the six-party talks.