Saturday, July 08, 2006

Bush Stays Course on Ambiguous N. Korea Policy

It's not certain these days that Bush has a policy for North Korea. US News has an article by Jae-Soon Chang and the first thing I noticed was this contradiction:
A U.S. envoy expressed support for China's proposal to hold informal six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear threat and offered to meet bilaterally with the North on the sidelines of those discussions.

(snip)

"What matters most of all is for Kim Jong Il to see the world speak with one voice," Bush said Friday during a trip to Chicago. "That's the purpose, really."

He has ruled out direct talks between just the United States and North Korea and said he hoped the six-party talks would resume.

There is a time when this odd offer and nonoffer of bilateral talks would have been called 'nuance.' Today, given the confusion and contradictions of Bush's foreign policy, no one is sure what to call it.

Later in the US News article, there's this:
Japan urged the United Nations to vote soon on the Security Council resolution and warned it would not compromise on its stern wording. The measure would call for other countries to "take those steps necessary" to keep the North from acquiring items that could be used for its missile program.

"Japan will not give in. It definitely must be a resolution containing sanctions," Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by Kyodo News agency as saying during a speech in Osaka on Saturday. Japan "will not back off from the resolution. We will hold on until the end."

Japanese Senior Vice Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Security Council members were privately "having positive discussions" about the resolution and were chipping away at Russian and Chinese doubts....

What I'm reading behind the lines is simply this: Russia and China are losing interest in anything that George W. Bush has to say. They know half of what Bush says is for domestic consumption and that the other half isn't particularly well considered. But, and this is a big but, the Russians and Chinese are becoming more willing to listen to what the Europeans are saying as well as the Japanese. If something useful is done about North Korea, it will be in spite of George W. Bush, not because of him. For the world's only superpower, this is a strange state of affairs.

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