Problems with current U.S. policy

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Author: John Feffer
Date: Dec. 2002
From: Foreign Policy in Focus(Vol. 7, Issue 14)
Publisher: Institute for Policy Studies
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,013 words

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The Bush administration signaled early on that it considered the Clinton approach of engaging North Korea tantamount to appeasement. In 2001, Bush snubbed Kim Dae Jung's policy of engaging the North and put the brakes on the progress the Clinton administration had made in negotiating an end to North Korea's missile program. Disproving the notion that Bush's inclusion of North Korea in his Axis of Evil speech was only to preemptively counter charges of anti-Islamicism, the State Department's Arms Control Undersecretary John Bolton reiterated the administration's approach in Seoul in August 2002. "The 38th parallel serves as a dividing line between freedom and oppression, between right and wrong," Bolton stated. It was this hard line that Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly brought to Pyongyang in early October.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, a chief Bush administration goal has been to isolate Pyongyang. The traditionally hermetic North Korea has been pushing hard for engagement for some time, discreetly sending its intelligentsia abroad for training and exposure to foreign ideas. In an updated version of the Meiji-era Japanese attempt to borrow technology from the West without transforming prevailing ideology--"Western machines, Eastern thought"--North Korea is trying to modernize according to its own rules.

While admitting a trickle of North Korean visitors to the U.S., the Bush administration has erected roadblocks to North Korea's larger engagement with the world, claiming that Pyongyang still represents a terrorist threat, even though the State Department acknowledges that the country has not engaged in international terrorism in fifteen years. As...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A96810905