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[Op-Ed] Fewer Doves in Washington?

Posted July. 20, 2009 03:16,   


People say doves in Washington have disappeared. In international politics, doves refer to those who favor dialogue and negotiations in diplomacy. On North Korea, only U.S. special envoy to Pyongyang Stephen Bosworth and special U.S. envoy for the six-party talks Sung Kim are called doves. The U.S. State Department convened a news conference Wednesday on North Korea and major figures from the State Department, the Treasury and the White House National Security Council attended. Conspicuously absent were the two envoys, vividly attesting to the disappearance of doves.

North Korea must initially have viewed the Obama administration as a dove. In the beginning, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested dialogue with North Korea within the bounds of never allowing Pyongyang to possess nuclear weapons. Though the U.S. extended a hand, Pyongyang slapped Washington in the face by conducting missile launches and its second nuclear test. North Korea must have thought that if it got tough, the U.S. would propose negotiations and concessions and reward it for its threats. This has turned out to be a grave miscalculation, however. President Obama has clearly ruled out rewards for wrong behavior. Under such circumstances, it is no surprise that doves have no leg to stand on. North Korea asked for it.

The Obama administration is firming up its stance against North Korea. Washington took the lead in passing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, which imposes harsh sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear test. U.S. intelligence also traced a North Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons, forcing it to change course and return home. The U.N. Security Council also slapped Thursday tough sanctions on North Korea, including on five North Korean individuals. This was possible because the international community including North Korea’s traditional allies China and Russia agreed. North Korea has nobody to turn to.

Kurt Campbell, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, visited Seoul yesterday and said, “If North Korea is prepared to take serious and irreversible steps, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, China and others will be able to put together a comprehensive package that would be attractive to North Korea.” This means the U.S. is still trying to keep the door open for North Korea. In Washington, however, voices are rising that North Korea should be re-included on the U.S. terrorism blacklist. If Pyongyang continues to reject dialogue and threaten the international community with its nuclear program, it will only see hawks fly in the skies over Washington.

Editorial Writer Lee Jin-nyong (jinnyong@donga.com)