Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rice's Trip; More on "Lack of an Alternative"

I had the chance to comment on the Secretary of State's "North Korea tour" on the BBC's Newshour yesterday. It says a great deal that North Korea's detonation of a nuclear device has not automatically caused a grand coalition of the great powers to insist on immediate and verifiable de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

I'm not privy to the Secretary's deliberations. I hope that she did not engage in the usual "a threat to us is an equal threat to you" rhetoric in Beijing and Moscow (with regard to North Korea and Iran). This is time for what George W. Bush might call a "humble" moment. You say to China--we know that North Korea doesn't threaten you, plan to use a nuclear weapon against you or transfer it to Taiwan or Uighur separatists. But you have a great deal invested in the economic prosperity of the United States and in the maintenance of the international trading system--and so we ask you to take this threat to our security seriously.

To continue the thread of earlier discussions, I listened to a Democratic candidate yesterday outline her "alternative vision" for Iraq: fire Donald Rumsfeld, spend more money on the troops, and withdraw from Iraq after benchmarks have been met by the Iraqi government. Firing Rumsfeld is a personnel decision, spending funds is a budgetary one. Neither represents a radically new direction. And the last one leaves unanswered what is the critical question. What happens if the Iraqis can't or won't measure up? Stay the course? Or leave?

At least our message, that we in Japan are only remotely worried at the thought of South Korea retaining those nukes in the event of a North Korean collapse and do not feel threatened by proliferation otherwise (much in the same way that Apple has less to fear from computer viruses), and that our issue is the North Korean nukes themselves, seems to have been heard, if only as background.
On the Democrats: saying Rumsfeld should go does not automatically signal a "new direction." Who would the Democrats replace him with? There would be a world of difference between a Joe Lieberman versus a Jack Murtha as SecDef.
Jun Okumura:

Why is Japan concerned about North Korean nukes?

Japan is a semi-sovereign state like South Korea and Germany: it is protected by US.

So where is the heart-burn in this for Japan?

Also this: if I were you I would not take the prospect of nuclear South Korea lightly - there is enormous hostility to Japan in South Korea: it is there just under the surface.
Newsweek makes a similar point:

Democratic leaders are largely sticking with domestic issues in part because they have yet to come up with a coherent plan for the biggest problem of all: articulating a clear way out of Iraq. On the campaign trail, Democrats have been content to bash Republican failures and say they'd do better. The Democrats' official line is to promise a "new direction," and to urge, vaguely, "redeployment." If they win, they'll be forced to say what, if anything, that means.
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