Thursday, December 16, 2004


HatTip to Mingi. A few weeks ago AEI's Nicholas Eberstadt wrote a piece called, "Tear Down This Tyranny."

Soo-Dong O, from the South Korean Embassy, responds:

SUGGESTIONS ON HOW to negotiate with North Korea are most persuasive when they incorporate practical experience and objective analysis of all relevant factors. Nicholas Eberstadt's "Tear Down This Tyranny" (Nov. 29) reflects too much reliance on unproven theory and not enough consideration of practical experience. In a word, it is impractical.

To resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, Eberstadt implicitly recommends a more confrontational U.S. policy approach that is not likely to bear fruit. North Korea has never succumbed to external pressure over the past 50 years, despite the wishes of foreign ideologues. Conversely, pressure tactics have strengthened the regime.

With respect to the six recommendations that Eberstadt makes, I will limit my comments to points four and five. The fourth recommendation that Washington "[work] around the pro-appeasement crowd in the South Korean government" offends on multiple levels. Calling on the U.S. government to intervene in South Korean domestic politics is inappropriate, to say the least, while the article's contempt for South Korean democracy is breathtaking. Confusing "appeasement" with thoughtful diplomacy is irresponsible. Ignoring the South Korean experience in negotiating with North Korea is not wise. We South Koreans fully recognize the difficulties of negotiating with Pyongyang, having conducted more such negotiations than any other nation. Aware of what approaches are likely to generate agreeable or counterproductive responses from North Koreans, we have a different view on how to deal with North Korea.

Eberstadt's fifth recommendation-- "Readying the nondiplomatic instruments for North Korea threat reduction"--seems to imply that the United States should unilaterally implement military measures to end North Korea's nuclear program. Such a recommendation ignores the consequences on U.S. allies in the region and other states as well as the subsequent implications for U.S. influence in the region. If the author is advocating war, can he wonder why North Korea would seek to improve its defense capabilities?

Peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue in a way that strengthens the ROK-U.S. alliance and preserves U.S. influence in the region will solidify President Bush's legacy far more effectively than will the suggestions outlined in the article. South Koreans and the government of President Roh Moo-hyun stand firmly with the United States in crafting policies to achieve these important objectives.

Mingi has some additional comments at his blog and I love this graphic he had of Kim Jong-Il and South Korea's former President Kim Dae Jung. So true, but would be more appropriate with DJ Kim's whipping boy... South Korea's current President Roh Moo-Hyun.

UPDATE: "S Korea's Roh cautions US hawks" (BBC News)

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