Grandly, president Obama at the World Nuclear confab in Seoul, warned the DPRK that it was missing the boat if it stuck to its plans to launch a satellite in mid April during celebrations of founder Kim Il Sung’s 100 birthday.
Missing an opportunity? Really! Looking at the American president oratorical flourish from North Korean eyes, it is the US who is scotching an opportunity, and not for the first time.
The record shows that for the last 20 years, Pyongyang has been willing to talk to the US without preconditions. Under the Clinton administration, talks did begin, but faltered. Promises, say, of building light water reactions to upgrade the DPRK’s electrical infrastructure got lost along the way, since Clinton and his advisors thought North Korea would collapse under its own weight. It didn’t.
Only in the last three months of 2000 did Clinton wake up: Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong il in Pyongyang in October and it was thought that before he left the White House, the 42 American president who go to the DPRK very much like Nixon going to Maoist China. [A reading of the chapter on her visit to the DPRK in Albright’s ‘Madam Secretary’ is recommended.]
It didn’t happen for various reasons, considering that even savvy advisors, in and out of government, got cold feet and tilted to torpedoing the visit.
We all now the botched job the George W Bush administration made of dealing with the DPRK. Reading Mike Chinoy’s ‘Meltdown’ is a good start to see how dumb conducting US foreign policy can be.
And now under Obama, not only has the Bush ‘doctrine’ got an injection of Vitamin B 12, the 44 US president has enshrined it in cement, and is using food aid as a political weapon to further a policy of rolling back Pyongyang to the point of collapse.
And yet, the DPRK under Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong il, and now Kim Jong eun has called for talks. The US even when it did sit down at the table with North Korea remained tone deaf to its appeals and offers.
GuamDiary is reminded of a tale it once heard of a Canadian on a visit to the DPRK brought back a letter addressed to a secretary of state; the missive was an approach for talks. The poor businessman sat at the state department talking to the officer on the Korea desk, to no avail. Each time he handed the letter to the man, the career diplomat shrank back in horror as though it carried ‘dengue fever’. Such was and remains the intransigeant attitude of the US to North Korea.
And so, who’s missing opportunities, president Obama?