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Doveish Colin Powell Carrying Out Coup against U.S. hawks

Doveish Colin Powell Carrying Out Coup against U.S. hawks

Posted August. 04, 2002 23:19,   


Is Secretary of State Colin Powell, the only dove in the Bush administration’s national security and foreign policy team, giving a challenge to the administration’s hawks?

USA TODAY reported, on August 2, that Powell scored a “diplomatic and personal coup” on July 31 when he engineered a brief chat with North Korea’s foreign minister Baek Nam-sun during the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The article of USA TODAY said, “Powell has been at odds with Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and White House political adviser Karl Rove. That conservative troika has trumped the more moderate secretary of State on policies ranging from the crisis in the Middle East to U.S. contributions to United Nations family planning programs.”

In March 2001, when President Kim Dae-jung visited Washington for his first summit with U.S. President Bush, Mr. Powell asserted that the Bush administration would “pick up where Clinton administration negotiations with North Korea had left off.” But the next day, he retracted his assertion after Mr. Bush’s reprimand.

Since then, Secretary of State Colin Powell has thrown his support behind the engagement policy toward the communist country in direct or indirect ways. Even though he said that Bush’s calling the North part of an “axis of evil” was based on fact and reality during his visit to the Forum, he insisted that the dialogue with the North Korean foreign minister was to see if that reality could change.

The U.S. daily also reported, “In policy terms, Powell is in no rush. A marathon runner, not a sprinter, he believes that his moderate views will triumph in the end.”

The test of the struggling between Mr. Powell and the Hawks in the Bush administration is how and when the U.S.-North Korea dialogue will start. On August 5, he is scheduled to brief President Bush on the result of his encounter with the North Korean foreign minister. Later the National Security Council will discuss the resumption of the plan of sending an envoy to Pyongyang, which was canceled after the naval clash in Yellow Sea of Korea. After the foreign ministerial contact between Washington and Pyongyang in Brunei, North Korea reported that it agreed on the North Korea-U.S. talks, while the U.S. said that nothing was decided. Meanwhile, the LA Times noted, in its Aug. 2 editorial, that the U.S. should put a positive spin on the North’s conciliatory gesture and its efforts toward economic reform, and it should give incentives for the North to join the large, rich world.

Ki-Heung Han eligius@donga.com