As US special North Korean troubleshooter Stephen Bosworth scurries like a chicken with its head cut off,from Seoul to Beijing to Toyko, America's client South Korea's president Lee Myung bak not only has flatly turned down North Korea's call for 'open and frank talks without preconditions', but has kicked off a new round of live fire military drills to push Pyongyang's face in the mud.
Happily, Kim Jong il & co. are not impressed. They know that Bosworth is trying to salvage a failed US North Korea policy by reversing engines and talking up the reconvening of the stalled six party talks in Beijing.
As GuamDiary has long observed, Obama like Bush before him has stood the question of dealing with North Korea on its head. Washington looks to China to keep North Korea in line as though such illuminati scholars like Aidan Foster Carter characterise Pyongyang as 'China's satellite'. This wrong headed approach is always bound to failure for many reasons. Consider the following two: China will never agree to a hostile presence on its borders with Korea [which was the overriding cause for sending volunteers to fight along the North Koreans during the Korean War], and like the Cold warriors of yore who banked on Stalin's hold of Mao, Beijing is far from being Pyongyang's handlers.
Poor Bosworth, he has a thankless task; how to get Lee Myung bak to talks in Beijing after the US has done everything to encourage the man to push the North's button until the maximum. And when that was done, the North replied in kind to the South
s shelling of its territorial waters in the Yellow Sea. Suddenly, all Obama & co. could see was the opening of a third war in Asia for the US. It pulled backed seeking diplomacy to calm Seoul's heated passions. Ironically, when the Chinese [and Russians] called for emergency consultations in November 2010, the US rejected them out of hand. So now, hat in hand, poor Bosworth. beggar hat in hand, is trying to kickstart talks in Beijing.
The fly in the US' ointment is its client Lee Myung bak. Mad as a hatter in his pursuit of regime change in the North and fancying himself as the 'reunifier' of the divided Korean peninsula, Lee try as he might can never bring his plans off. His lunatic policy has hit stumbling blocks at every turn. Yet, as head of a strong economy and a freshly signed Free Trade Agreement [FTA] with the US, he thinks he holds winning cards in dealing with Washington.
Washington has an even stronger trump to play: it can call for discussions leading towards a peace treaty with North Korea and China, thereby ending the Korean War. Lee seems to forget Syngman Rhee refused to sign the 1953 Armistice, and therefore, excluded the South from any party of new arrangements on the divided Korean peninsula. Such a threat should sober up Lee. His exclusion in the peace process would make Pyongyang the sole spokesman for the Korean people both South and North.
Of course this is an abomination to Lee, but it is a truncheon the US can effectively use to drag the unwilling Lee to talks in Beijing.
It is no time for the US to shilly shally with the mad man Lee. It is time to rope him in, hog tie him, and bring him 'shaved and shorn' of his hubris to Beijing.