Monday, April 28, 2003

As I blogged on Saturday, here is a more in-depth look at what the good Sen. Chafee had to say about North Korea, as reported in Saturday's Projo. The story's text, including Chafee's comments, are in Italics, mine aren't.

U.S.-North Korea talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program have "broken down" because a confrontational Bush administration team is holding out "a heavy military threat" against the Asian nation, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee said yesterday.

The Senator is correct. This proved to be extremely ineffective in dealing with Iraq.

"The administration just doesn't put a premium on diplomacy," said Chafee. The Rhode Island Republican, who returned Tuesday from a trip to Asia, said that military victory in Iraq helped bring North Korea to the negotiating table with the United States. But Chafee reiterated his view that war in the Persian Gulf region should have been averted and that the talks on North Korea's weapons program could have begun long ago.

Once again, it is Chafee's view that it is failed diplomacy on the part of the U.S. when the other side refuses to talk. He then

Chafee played down the importance of North Korea's reported statement to U.S. diplomats during the Beijing talks that it has nuclear weapons. "We've suspected that," Chafee said.

Bahh, no big deal.

Chafee said yesterday's conclusion of three days of U.S.-North Korean talks in Beijing confirmed his pessimistic view of the situation. He largely blamed the Bush administration for the apparent impasse. "They don't want to give," Chafee said of the U.S. negotiating team, led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly. "They want this to be blunt and uncompromising."

Doesn't it seem that all Senator Chafee wants to do is "give"? In every situation, he seems to take the position that the Bush Administration should compromise.

Chafee said his pessimism had been fed by the assignment of this diplomatic role to Kelly -- whose "very confrontational" stance toward North Korea proved "unproductive" last fall as the nuclear-weapons controversy unfolded.

The U.S. should quickly start back to work on fresh talks with North Korea and "they should send a new team," said Chafee, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Are you volunteering, Sen. Chafee?

Chafee said he is also "a little bit pessimistic" about how hard China will work against Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons program.

"It's very important to have this dialogue," Chafee said of the U.S.-North Korea weapons talks, which began under Chinese sponsorship Wednesday in Beijing, the day after Chafee, Senate GOP leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and several other senators completed a 10-day tour to Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei.

"But everybody seems to realize that this isn't going to be easy and it's going to take a long time," Chafee said of the effort to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions. He suggested that one obstacle is the complexity of the motivations of the nations involved. Beijing, for example, seems to demand a weakening of U.S. ties to Taiwan as its price for tougher steps against its longtime ally in Pyongyang.

He leaves unsaid the implication that the U.S. should acquiesce to China's demands.

Chafee said the tour -- including talks with key political and military leaders of the three nations, plus a visit with Rhode Island soldiers stationed in South Korea -- also gave him insight into the fight against the deadly new respiratory disease that has come out of Asia, and the possible sale of New England-built submarines and warships to Taiwan.

blah blah

Chafee said he believes that timing of the nuclear-arms discussions in Beijing is "not coincidental" and shows that North Korea and China were both struck by the demonstration of U.S. military dominance in Iraq. China appears to have pressured North Korea strongly to agree to the negotiations -- something that did not happen before the Iraq war, he said.

At the same time, Chafee -- who opposed the war -- said the talks also showed an American willingness to compromise. Whereas North Korea had once insisted on nation-to-nation talks with the U.S., the Bush administration demanded multilateral talks involving Russia, Japan and South Korea. The compromise of the current Chinese-brokered talks showed new flexibility on all sides.

Whu..huh..but..didn't he just say we didn't compromise?

Chafee added, however, that he does not believe a victorious U.S. assault on Baghdad was necessary to get China and North Korea into nuclear-arms talks. More emphasis on U.S. diplomacy might have either averted the North Korea problem or got the talks going earlier to solve it, Chafee said.

No way...the little dude in N. Korea was waiting to see if we would follow through with our threats. Once we showed we would, he came to the table. Otherwise, there would be no reason for him to do such a thing.

Chafee said he developed one persistent worry during his trip: Chinese officials from President Hu Jintao on down seem to reserve their "passion" for the issue of Taiwan, while appearing less fervent about the goal of keeping nuclear weapons off the Korean peninsula.

Chafee inferred from the words and the demeanor of Chinese officials that their essential bargaining gambit on any question -- from trade, to SARS, to the threat from North Korea -- is to attack the longtime U.S. ties to Taiwan. On this trip, Chafee said, Chinese officials devoted great energy to an issue that seemed to him more symbolic than substantive, a U.S. effort to grant Taiwan limited ties to the World Health Organization. Chafee said he is inclined to go along with Chinese requests that the Senate postpone consideration of a measure to grant Taiwan the ties. But he said Frist is inclined to proceed with a Senate vote.

Ah, yes. There it is. Let's compromise and back off of our support for a bastion of democracy which we've supported since World War II. Placate the bully, first.

Chafee said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are also a touchy issue with Beijing, although not as inflamed as it might be, because Taiwan's new administration is preoccupied with economic problems and appears unprepared to act on tentative plans to buy ships from the U.S. -- possibly including diesel submarines built at Electric Boat.

As opposed to Chinese arm sales to N. Korea, Iraq, and others?

THE VISIT TO BEIJING, Chafee said, helped him to put SARS in clearer perspective. The outbreak "deserves all the attention it's getting," he said, and efforts to control it have plainly been hampered by the Chinese government's "deliberate decision not to be forthcoming" about the extent of the spread of SARS. Nor did Chinese officials directly acknowledge this fact in their meetings with the U.S. senators, he said.

The heavy blow of SARS upon the tourism business in China was also evident. "Our hotel was almost completely empty," said Chafee. "When we went into a restaurant, we were the only people there."

But on the brighter side, Chafee said, there were signs that the Chinese government understands and has learned from its mistakes of secrecy. For example, Chafee noted the firing of a key official. "The new health minister had only been on the job two days when he met us," Chafee said.

Furthermore, Chafee said, there is none of the sense of panic in Beijing that some reports here seem to suggest. "Business is still going on, people are still going to work," he said.

Ok, whatever.

Chafee also said he returned home with a more vivid sense of what a "corrupt and brutal regime" runs North Korea. Kim Jong Il, he said, is "a cruel and despotic tyrant" who presides over an impoverished nation surrounded by relatively modern and prosperous nations. "We should turn our focus on North Korea, as we apparently are doing now," Chafee said."

No kidding, Senator. Doesn't this all sound a little familiar? Do you think that maybe, Li'l Kim saw how Saddam got away with acting belligerent and playing the UN game for 12 years and thought maybe he'd give it a try? That is until he saw that this President was not one to attach himself or the nation to an endless process of "diplomacy"? Diplomacy is all fine and dandy if it accomplishes something, and rational people can come to agreements using traditional methods of diplomacy. Unfortunately, the wild cards out there, like Saddam and L'il Kim, understand one kind of diplomacy only... brute force. They had to be shown that real consequences would occur if they don't wise up. Saddam directly, and L'il Kim in a second-hand manner. Senator Chafee still relishes the diplomatic process over actual results. He acknowledges a "corrupt and brutal regime" run by a crazy man but insists that this same regime and man can be dealt with in a tradional way. Not so. The bottom line is that Senator Chafee gets antsy when tough talk is used. He is "uncomfortable" by strong words and actions that achieve the goals of his nation. He continues to exhibit a certain kind of passive agressiveness when it comes to the Bush Administration's diplomatic policy. He condemns them for not engaging in diplomacy enough, but then quibbles with the diplomats and methods used. The fundamental problem appears to be that the Bush team assumes that the U.S. stance is right and it's up to the other side, be it Iraq, China or N. Korea, to compromise first and then we'll talk. Senator Chafee always wants the U.S. to blink first. Maybe it's because that's how the Senator can relate to diplomacy in general. He always blinks first.

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