Streaming PR’s ‘News Hour’, GuamDiary, at last, a strong expression of why the death of Kim Jong il provided an opportunity to depart from the disingenuousness of ‘patient contraint’, otherwise known as ‘rolling back’ North Korea.
Every idea behind ‘rollback’ is masked in larger consideration which is dishonest in a framework of ‘realism’ that tend to stave North Korea into submission to the non negotiable aims of the US and aided and abetted by a revanchist Lee Myung bak regime in South Korea.
Donald Gregg, chairman emeritus of the New York Korea Society, former ambassador to Seoul, former national security advisor to George WH Bush, and a 30 year veteran of the CIA, is a voice of reason in a level of discussion, thought, and implementation of ‘pattient restraint’ that is a willing acceptance of failure in the corridors of power in Seoul and Washington.
With a minimum of words, Gregg suggested that the death of the ‘Dear Leader’ is an occasion to lump the sinking of the ‘Cheonan’, the shelling of ‘Yeongpyeong’ military base, and the second nuclear test into the legacy of Kim Jong il. The advent of his son Kim Jong eun, furthermore, offers the US the opportunity to show maturity by making a gesture to the DPRK to lessen the tensions in the divided Korean peninsula.
A new opening! Sound advice you would think? Hardly. The US North Korean clerisy, as well as the Obama administration and the revanchist Lee Myung bak regime, view it as a weakening of the two countries’ spirit. It was as though Gregg, who in some policy making quarters may be seen as a ‘heretic’. Gregg’s reputation and long government service do protect him from the direct criticism, if not condemnation, yet the failure of ‘patient constraint’ lies in US Korean history. More, Gregg put it bluntly, he is against holding a starving population hostage to the denial of promised food aid, a comment which Bobolina Hwang, now professor at Georgetown, former advisor in the Bush fils White House, and before that wrote policy on Korea at the right wing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. She disagrred mostly with Gregg in that polite but sharp elbow difference of opinion. A hard liner she embraced ‘rollback’ forcefully, praising president Obama. Her standpoint is hardly surprising, since any opening to the North, would bring down the temple of orthodoxy that the past 60 years had thrown up against talking to the DPRK, even though Kim Jong il never tired signaling to Washington for talks with no preconditions which he transmitted through two former US president and any number of Americans and westerners visiting North Korea.
A thaw in relations would cut the ground from under a cottage industry of US North Korean clerics, thereby threatening jobs and fat salaries and overheated reputations. Unlike Gregg, Hwang, like her cohorts, is no risk taker, embroiled as they are in the byzantine politics and reflexes learnt and perpetuated during the heady days of the Cold War against the Soviet empire.
By steadfastly holding on the past, they got the answer they wanted by Kim Jong eun. No opening, no changes in DPeRK policy.
Tis a pity, Gregg is preaching to the deaf and dumb and dumber.