'hawks vs wimps'
Newsweek has an interesting analysis on the policies of Clinton and Bush II regarding North Korea.
“What they are trying to avoid at all costs is looking like the Clinton administration,” says Kurt Campbell, a senior Clinton Pentagon official for Asia and now senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “You can’t imagine how much they hated everything the Clinton administration stood for. There is a personal dimension, because of the defeat of [Bush’s] father, that cannot be underestimated. But they are starting to finesse the line that they don’t negotiate, and that is a smart thing to do. There will be informal talks, then some multilateral arrangement, with China, Russia and Japan negotiating together with the U.S.”
In the meantime, the Bush administration’s tough talk is serving to strain ties further with Seoul. Relations with the South were hurt in the first months of the Bush administration when President Kim Dae Jung visited the White House in 2001. Secretary of State Powell pledged to pick up where the Clinton officials had left off, suggesting more engagement with the North. But the next day, sitting alongside President Kim, President Bush dismissed the idea of talks until there was “complete verification” of previous agreements with Pyongyang.
Administration officials did little to hide their glee at the prospect of President Kim being replaced with a conservative hardliner, Lee Hoi Chang, in last year’s elections. Instead Roh Moo Hyun, a center-left former human rights lawyer, won power with the promise of greater dialogue with the North.
“In reality the Bush administration faces not one crisis but two,” says Campbell. “One is the crisis involving nuclear weapons in the North. The second is the crisis of confidence with our allies in the South.”
...President Bush repeatedly says he will not allow “the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most dangerous weapons”. How he goes about doing that in North Korea is likely to be as tough a test of machismo as any military conflict in Iraq.
(via Neptune World)