Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Hawks on the net are touting the current talks with North Korea as evidence that their war in Iraq really is helping to contain threats elsewhere. It's a limited success at best -- the US could have had bilateral talks at any time, and as Josh Marshall points out, the current talks involve only the Chinese, and them more as hosts than participants.

The hawks have some dissent from an unusual quarter: Donald Rumsfeld, who doesn't think it's a good idea to be talking with the Koreans no matter what is happening in Iraq. In a secret memo apparently obtained by the Daily Telegraph, he apparently argues for regime change, via a DenBestian policy of stepping up sanctions until the Korean regime collapses of its own weight. That report is seconded by The Nelson Report, a newsletter for Washington's Asia policy hands, which also notes that when Rumsfeld couldn't get the talks canceled, he tried to sabotage them again by putting hawk John Bolton in charge of the delegation.

Stepped-up conflict, inevitably leading to war, is the first resort for these guys. They actively try to suppress the alternatives.

By the way, the really significant change in the North Korean situation, as I noted a few weeks ago, is that the Chinese started dropping hints that they might restrict or cut off oil to the North Koreans if the nuclear situation stayed hot -- and they were doing that while the American army was looking overextended in Iraq, so it wasn't a reaction to Saddam's quick collapse, which happened later. Though it may have had something to do with the US State Department's subsequent decision not to protest China's human rights record to the UN Human Rights Commission, for the first time in years...


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