Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ban Ki moon weighs in on the side of direct talks between Pyoongyang and Washington

UN secretary general Ban Ki moon threw his authority behind the DPRK's [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea]proposals to talk directly to the US. Although he did not dismiss the failed and now dead for the DPRK, the six party talks in Beijing,e he quietly did point out that there are other ways in discussing outstanding issues between Pyongyang and Washington. And face to face talks was certainly one such avenue.
You can imagine the displeasure secretary general Ban's pronouncement provoked in Fortress Foggy Bottom where US secretary of state Hillary Clinton & her band of Asian specialists hold forth.By voicing his opinion which bears the weight of a 'globacl village', a metaphor dear to Mme. Clinton's heart, Mr. Moon has taken a step away from the hardline US policy and the two resolutions that it sponsored for sanctions against the DPRK, in April and June 2009. The secretary general has grasped the hand that North Korea is extending to the Obama administration for a way to get discussions on its nuclear programme off of arctic ground zero, discussions which may also lead to unfreeze more than a half century of icebergs of issues going back to the Korean War. Mr. Moon sees an opportunity which should not be thrown as others openings in the past, on the dust heap of lost causes. It is a chance to lower quickly mounting temperatures on a very tense divided Korean peninsula, as well as to cool off the propaganda war and macho posturing.
President Barack Obama [BHO] & his team at State, the Treasury, and the Pentagon do not share the secretary general's standpoint. On the contrary, Mme. Clinton rejected the DRPK proposals out of hand, insisting that the proper venue for talks is at the table of the six parties in Beijing. The presence of China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, the US, and North Korea was a smokescreen and a face saving devise for the Bush White House not to talk man to man with the DPRK. The idea of a six neighbours at the table would put pressure on North Korea to change its unconventional ways. It was thought in Washington, that the US had found a surrogate in Pyongyang's ally China, in arm twisting Kim Jong il to come to his senses. In other words, agree to Washington's demands. This tack had more to do with beating the drum and blowing the horn of a giant publicity campaign, but of little flexibility on the US' side to come to any meaningful agreement with Pyongyang. As a result, the talks broke off from time to time with a certain measured predictability. When BHO called for sanctions against the DPRK before the UN Security Council in April 2009, Pyongyang folded its tent, and walked away for good.
Mme. Clinton had not grasped the significance of North Korea's farewell. She continues to believe absurdly that it will return to the talks. Mme. Clinton & co. at Fortress Foggy Bottom are slow in understanding the import of the DPRK's proposals for direct talks. As Guam Diary has previously noted, they knock the stuffings out of Washington's ploy to use China as a Trojan Horse for its onerous demands of surrender to the DPRK. Beijing is out of the game, not completely by directly. BHO's Clinton team has fallen back on the simplistic explanation that the US and the DPRK already have had talked on the edges of the six party meetings. But that's not the same thing as formally have face to face talks!
Fortress Foggy Bottom has embraced the hardline approach of South Korea and Japan, in facing down North Korea. This trioka of allies thought that a hardline common front would cower Pyongyang into making concessions. How naive and wrong they were!
Washington may now realise that Pyongyang's proposals cut Seoul and Tokyo out of the picture. And where is Mme. Clinton now without the crutch of Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo? Kim Jong il's proposals have shown that the emperor BHO is wearing no new clothes in dealing with the DPRK. Are we seeing the lamps burning late into the nights at Foggy Bottom, as the policy makers and talking heads go looking for new ideas? Guam Diary cannot say for sure. One thing is certain, however: the US' response has not gone off its usual message, and it has the mainstream media in its pocket.
Will BHO respond kindly to secretary general Ban Ki moon's suggestion? Guam Diary is not in the business of reading tea leaves. But one thing is certain, Mr. Ban has stepped hard on toes in Washington. His term in office is coming up for renewal, and Washington's anger will try to strike him, making him a one term secretary general. He is at a risk at playing gadfly with Washington.
Fortress Foggy Bottom is slowly coming under siege on the matter of the DPRK. It is only a matter of time possibly for other allies of the US to call for Washington's direct talks with Pyongyang. Is it too a matter of time for a call for the reconvening of a Geneva conference to deal globally and once and for all with the large bag of issues dating back to the Korea War?

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