[FOUNTAIN]Don’t buy the sweet talkAdolf Hitler was a cunning liar. By contrast, his negotiation counterpart, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, was somewhat gullible. It is hard to find another pair in world history where the stage was set for deception more than Hitler and Chamberlain. Adolf Hitler first met the British Prime Minister on Sept. 15, 1938. Three days before the meeting, Hitler had secretly moved troops to the border to attack Czechoslovakia. Then he lied that he would promise peace if Germany could annex only the Sudetenland districts. By assuring the other side, a surprise attack was more likely to succeed. Chamberlain trusted Hitler. When opposition politicians suspected Hitler’s intentions, Chamberlain praised the German leader as a “most extraordinary creature” and would be “rather better than his word.” In a letter to his sister, Chamberlain described Hitler as a man who stood by his word. A week later Hitler demanded more land, but Chamberlain persuaded the Parliament to meet his demand. “Hitler is a narrow-minded man and has a tendency to respond violently on certain matters. However, he is not the kind of man who would intentionally deceive someone,” Chamberlain insisted. A few months later, however, Hitler made a surprise attack on Prague. Political scientist Michael Handel reckons that former Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan benefited from lies as much as Hitler did. On June 5, 1967, Israel invaded the Arab states. In an interview with a British newspaper on June 2, three days prior to the attack, and at a news conference on June 3, Mr. Dayan said that it was either too early or too late to start a war. Mr. Dayan’s lie contributed to the successful surprise attack.
Kim Jong-il is as good a liar as Hitler. Since the Yongbyon nuclear inspection in 1993, Mr. Kim has lied about the North’s nuclear program more times than we can count. Those lies were bought because he had a South Korean counterpart who was as easy to deceive as Chamberlain.
Jasper Becker wrote in the New York Times a year ago that President Roh Moo-hyun’s efforts to embrace Kim Jong-il pushed the Koreans into a world of North Korean deceptions.
Pyongyang might not have a plan to further test nuclear weapons and may even return to the six-party talks. High-ranking Korean government officials are taking the lead in believing the sweet talk and spreading it. Meanwhile, the United States and other allies just snort at more empty promises from the North. In Korea, security officials appear to share the “code” with the president and hope to trust the words of the great leader.
by Yi Jung-jae
The writer is a deputy business news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.