Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Worse than Bush

As careful readers of Blog Simple will know, our take is that the most striking thing about the young Obama administration has been its continuance of policies from the last two years of the Bush administration. Apart from some cosmetic changes and changes in rhetoric, it would be hard to know that there is a new 'Democratic' administration.

But it seems that the Obaminites are charting out new territory in the confrontation with North Korea. Or maybe not new, but back to the bad old days of the mad dog Bush admin, when Cheney had the bit between his teeth, Bolton was talking smack to foes and allies alike, and Rummie bestrode the Pentagon, on the lookout for a new war.

In fact, the last two years of shaky progress with the DPRK have been undone in a matter of 100 days, in fact, matters may be worse than before Christopher Hill calmed things down.

Since Obama took office, the North has:
  • kicked out the UN inspectors
  • said they were starting up the Yongbyon reactor
  • threatened to start a uranium enrichment program
Even the South Koreans, who have been more aggressive than Washington of late are getting worried:

Washington’s current stand on North Korea has raised some concern in Seoul. After recent policy discussions in Washington, Moon Chung-in, a North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul, described the American attitude as “just like the first-term Bush administration.”

Shin Nakyun, a South Korean lawmaker, who also attended the discussions, said: “Although they said they keep their door open for North Korea, I felt they were turning uniformly hard-line. They said there will be no carrots for the North.”
But Clinton has decided to keep talking tough:
Over the weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Washington would not be “blackmailed” by the North. The United States and its allies will “tighten the band around North Korea,” she said.
When dealing with a nation that feels it has its back to the wall, and you do wish to encourage denuclearization, starting off with additional sanctions and tough talk is a bad strategy. Pushing North Korea risks much, and gains little.


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