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Rice: Regime Character Is Paramount

Posted July. 25, 2006 03:53,   


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made very significant remarks at Georgetown University this January. The point of her long remarks was that the characters of regimes now matters more than the immediate diplomatic gain in choosing its international partners.

From her speech, the most outstanding words were, “The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them…the fundamental character of regimes matters more than the balance of power.”

In fact, Rice has been known as a realist who follows the view of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who stressed the importance of an international distribution of power. Now she advocates a new diplomatic way which stresses the importance of the fundamental character of regimes. This shows her move to the idealist bloc.

She also made meaningful remarks last Friday before visiting countries of the Middle East. She said, “Finding a way to bring permanent peace and stable security to this region is my foremost concern, rather than an immediate ceasefire.” Even though the current Lebanon crisis seems to be relevant to her remarks, this is also construed as her notion that the realistic diplomatic approach under the current George W. Bush administration is practically impossible.

In regard to this, a diplomatic source from Washington said, “North Korea National Defense Committee Chairman Kim Jong Il, South Korean diplomatic experts, and negotiators of North Korea nuclear issues during the former Clinton administration may feel ashamed now.”

In fact, the Geneva Agreement in 1994 ended in failure. According to this agreement, the U.S. furnished North Korea with crude oil and South Korea built a light-water reactor in compensation for the suspension of North Korea’s nuclear program. However, this agreement became invalid in 2002 after the North resumed its uranium enrichment program again.

Under Rice’s new diplomatic stand, it is hardly expected that the U.S. will take progressive actions like the Geneva Agreement toward North Korea. One diplomatic expert analyzed that Rice’s remarks can be interpreted that the U.S. has a strong will to transform the fundamental character of North Korea.

To the current participatory government, which considers national unity and diplomatic alliances, Rice’s remarks must be seriously burdensome.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com