Sunday, July 10, 2005

Spinning Through History With Condi and the LA Times

From Date Set For N. Korea Talks:

If the North Koreans return to the table ready to bargain, it will be a major victory for the Bush administration. U.S. officials said neither threats nor bribes were used to lure Pyongyang back. "There was no proximate catalyzing, arm-twisting event," a second official said.

The LA Times does better than most in reporting on the foreign policy shenanigans of the Bush administration, so I’m not sure if Sonni Efron is trafficking in sarcasm or stupidity when she follows her glowing encomium to President Bush’s North Korea policy with:

In the meantime, the South has been developing an economic assistance proposal for North Korea that Seoul officials describe as a modern-day Marshall Plan, the program used to rebuild Europe after World War II.The plan is not being proposed formally within the context of the six-party talks, but it appears designed to encourage the negotiations.

In other words, we don’t bribe the North Koreans. That’s South Korea’s job!

And no proximate catalyzing either! That’s a no-no!

Certainly no arm-twisting, either.

North Korea's neighbors envision a step-by-step process whereby the country would receive benefits as it freezes and then dismantles nuclear programs.Washington had initially ruled out rewarding North Korea in any way until the programs were dismantled, but it has recently softened its stance.

In fact, the Bush administration is in full retreat on North Korea, returning to the incentive-laden multi-lateral Clinton-era incrementalism that was supposed to be relegated to the dustbin of history in favor of triumphalist neo-con nut-twisting.

The LA Times’ unwillingness to state the obvious is, I suppose, a consummation of the sacred marriage between source and scribe that will ensure a steady stream of scoops, leaks, and spin from Condi to her favored Left Coast outlet.

China’s role in this is left unclear. It looks like China midwifed the arrangement, but is happy to leave the room when Washington and Pyongyang get it on.

China and South Korea have been pushing the Bush administration to do more to get negotiations restarted, and have urged the U.S. to hold one-on-one talks with the North, as Pyongyang has demanded. President Bush repeatedly refused.

Saturday's dinner took place at a Chinese Foreign Ministry guesthouse, but no senior Chinese officials attended, a senior U.S. official said.

If my analysis of Kim Jung Il’s nuclear strategy is correct, he raised enough ruckus that China was forced to put North Korea's security interests high on its foreign policy agenda with the U.S.A.

But the Chinese are so leery of getting embroiled in whatever mischief Kim Jung Il and George W. Bush might generate on the Korean peninsula that they use their physical absence to emphasize that they are not partners, guarantors, or even witnesses to what happens when the Kim/Bush Ying Yang magic occurs.

And if Condi continues her spinning, winning ways with the media, we won’t know what’s going on, either.

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