South Korea’s president Lee Myung bak is in the US to celebrate the passage of a US ROK Free Trade Agreement, which has finally passed in the US Congress in a rare display of ‘bipartisanship’.
President Obama has pulled out the stops to welcome Lee. For his administration thinks the man in the Blue House in Seoul is a good team player, especially when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
It matters little that ‘Bulldozer’ Lee brought the two Koreas to the precipice of war in November 2010 when in joint US ROK military exercises along the Northern Limit Line, South Korea live ammo fell into North Korean territory. The North riposted immediately by targeting the military base on Yeongpyong island within spitting distance from the DPRK’s territorial waters.
Pyongyang’s answer to Lee’s and Obama’s taunting North Korea, spooked Washington which had to stray hard liner Lee from reopening the Korean war, long dormant for the last 48 years.
Obama is giving Lee the five star treatment since he is the right kind of guy to make trouble against a North Korea that is willing to negotiate its nuclear programme but not at the cost of crying Uncle! to America’s demands.
US ROK policy towards North Korea is joined to the same hip, and once again, America’s diplomatic palsied hand has little freedom of action to pursue policies which would lessen tensions in a tripwire divided Korean peninsula.
Such a policy make make sense ideologically but it fails the test of reality.