Sunday, June 12

The Bush-Roh summit and the Six Party Talks: the frank version

Pundita has been asked to give her opinion "the frank version" by a reader who wants my thoughts on the summit.

Frankly, I'm hoping what came out of the summit was President Roh withdrawing what must have been strenuous objection to John Bolton going anywhere near the United Nations. As long as Bolton remembers to say "Mister" whenever he refers to Kim Jong-il, perhaps this will mollify Roh's government.

That pretty much ends my thoughts on the summit, given that the crystal ball is still out for repairs. I have no idea what Roh and Bush said to each other behind closed doors. But Pundita has plenty of frank thoughts on the Six-Party Talks. Ready?

Frankly, it's hard to stuff methamphetamine and processed heroin into a computer chip, so I guess the hardworking North Koreans are doomed to continue working on assembly lines that crank out shoes and pots and pans.

Frankly, the only reason Kim Jong-il was brought to the six party talks was because the US military practically shut down his counterfeit US dollars ring. But just when he was wondering what to do for hard currency, he got Russian, South Korean and Chinese businessmen vying to buy shoes and pots and pans from him.

Frankly, George W. Bush is giving the State Department enough rope to hang themselves. They wanted six way talks and they got them. So I hope they're happy with the results. State seesawed for years between dissing South Korea and making unreasonable requests. The disrespect was shown by flagrantly treating Japan as their most trusted ally in the region and pressing China to lead in the Six Party Talks. It should always have been Seoul to lead the talks. I don't support the rationale for the talks, but at least putting Seoul in charge would have prevented the talks from exacerbating the dispute between Seoul and Washington.

Despite the flaws in the Sunshine Policy, South Korea does have to live next door to North Korea; Seoul has a right to try to work for reunification and a responsibility not to act recklessly with regard to Pyongyang. The State Department saw Kim as the fly in the ointment but when Seoul asked, "Okay, what happens if his regime collapses?" State heard their phone ringing.

The Pentagon's contribution to Plan 5029 and the RAND study on reunification, both completed just prior to President Roh's visit, are a nod to recognizing Seoul's problems.

However, I'm just not sure what State expects to get out of the talks if they resume. The inherent flaws in the six party talks are that Russia, China, and South Korea have greatly increased their trade with North Korea since the talks were first initiated, and they show no sign of wanting to censure North Korea for their weapons program.

Also, Russia and China don't want to censure Iran for their nuclear weapons program and they both do big trade with Iran. Moscow and Beijing have clearly indicated many times over the years that they are not against nuclear proliferation and transferring nuclear/dual-use technology to despotic governments.

Kim Jong-il is pulling the same ploy on the five other members to the Six-Party talkers that Tehran pulls on the EU Three talkers. The similarity in approach is not a coincidence. Kindly see today's earlier post.

This said, I understand the need to attempt negotiation but frankly, I am just not sure how much is gained by years spent making G8 nations look like fools on the world stage. That's all that's been accomplished so far by G8 negotiations with two tyrannical regimes hell bent on threatening their neighbors and the United States with nuclear weapons.

If Seoul doesn't think of Pyongyang's regime as tyrannical, if they want to pursue their Sunshine Policy with North Korea, that would be their prerogative--except for the fact that they don't want US troops to pull out of South Korea at this time.

In other words, they want to keep the United States military behind their way of handling Kim Jong-il. Frankly, that doesn't sound right to Pundita. It sounds as if Seoul has manipulated the US into the role of an Enabler. For those unfamiliar with the way I use the word--an Enabler is a family member who enables a relative to keep doing dope or alcohol out of a misplaced belief that this will eventually help the addict break the habit.

And in any case, Seoul's approach is not moving forward on dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

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