Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mme. Clinton responds to the DPRK's offer for direct talks

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has rejected out of hand the DPRK's [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea]proposals for face to face discussions with the US. Instead true to State's mantra, she encouraged the DPRK to come back to the six party talks in Beijing. Now, Mme.Clinton is a busy lady; she's a large delegation of Chinese who are in meetings with secretary of the treasury Timothy Geithner and herself and BHO [Barack Obama] to deal with. So her swift reply to Pyongyang may have been hastily formulated. Nonetheless, her team of Asianists and Pyongyangologists surely either didn't carefully read North Korea's proposals or if they did, they had to be of shortsight, since Pyongyang restated its position of April 2009, that it had quit the six party talks and wouldn't return to them. Case closed.
Now Mme. Clinton may play a cat and mouse game, but Kim Jong il's position is not. As Guam Diary observed, the North Korean proposals is not 'deja vu all over again', but a strong desire to cut through the war of nasty words and get to the heart of matter of issues affecting Washington and Pyongyang. Mme. Clinton's & co.'s inability or reluctance to think outside the box, reveals how primitive the tools of diplomacy Foggy Bottom has on hand. Furthermore, they fail to recognise the changes under which the DPRK itself is going. For them, North Korea remains a solid block of ice, massive and impenetrable. Perhaps, as a suggestion, they might available themselves of the knowledge that their British cousins have first hand by the mere fact that London has an embassy in Pyongyang or the Swiss who have laboured long in the DPRK through NGO's and who set up a business school, teaching the tricks of the trade of global finance, in the North Korean capital.
Mme. Clinton seemingly remains aloof to the realities and wisdom of what's going on in the DPRK.
BHO has espoused the cause of South Korea's Lee Myung bak who dumped unceremoniously the 'Sunshine Policy' for whatever its warts, had engaged Pyongyang directly. Once in office, he reversed gears,and single handedly restored the cold war status quo ante with North Korea. BHO aligned himself with Lee, and reaffirmed solidarity with Japan's hardline position as well.
Is BHO the man his image projects? Pragmatist, a healer, an extender of an open hand? Hardly when it comes to engaging the DPRK. Rather, he has donned the cloak of John Bolton, and with the steel glove of State, sought to revive the Truman MacArthur doctrine.
As Guam Diary posits, he is doomed to failure. The coalition that he forged in the US Security Council is showing cracks. China and Russia will not go the full 9 yards in imposing sanctions on North Korea. In fact, with Pyongyang's dealing a death blow to the six party talks, have kicked the legs out from under the US strategy for using Beijing as a battering ram to force open Pyongyang's resistance to US demands.
In brief, by rejecting without much consideration let alone thought and analysis, Mme. Clinton & co. are up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Of course, diplomacy is an art of the possible, so it is not stricken from the record the possibility that the US might reconsider DPRK's call for bilateral talks in a different light.

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