Hawks Push Regime Change in North Korea
of foreign-policy hawks that promoted the 2003 invasion of Iraq
is pressing President George W. Bush to adopt a more coercive policy
toward North Korea, despite strong opposition from China and South
By most accounts,
North Korea ranked high in bilateral talks between Bush and Northeast
Asian leaders, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, at the summit
of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Santiago,
Chile, this past weekend, although the final communiqué did
not address the issue.
tried to make clear that his patience toward Pyongyang and its alleged
efforts to stall the ongoing "Six-Party Talks" was fast
running out and that Washington will soon push for stronger measures
against North Korea in the absence of progress toward an agreement
under which Pyongyang will dismantle its alleged nuclear-arms program.
Sunday that his interlocutors, who included the leaders of the four
other parties Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea
agreed with him, but Hu and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun
have not backed down publicly from their strong opposition to a
harder line toward Pyongyang.
before the weekend summit, Roh told an audience in Los Angeles that
a hardline policy over North Korea's nuclear weapons would have
"grave repercussions," adding, "There is no alternative
left in dealing with this issue except dialogue."
The South Korean
leader also denounced the idea of an economic embargo against Pyongyang.
That the hawks
back in Washington are indeed mobilizing became clear Monday when
William Kristol, an influential neoconservative who also chairs
the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), faxed a statement
entitled "Toward Regime Change in North Korea" to reporters
and various "opinion leaders" in the capital.
boasts Vice President Dick Cheney, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Cheney's powerful chief
of staff, I. Lewis Libby among a dozen other senior Bush
national-security officials as signers of its 1997 charter,
issues statements relatively infrequently.
clear that they see the transition [between the Bush administration's
two terms] and before any new round of the Six-Party Talks as the
time to try to set policy direction," one veteran analyst told
IPS on Monday.
referred in particular to two recent articles, including one published
last week by Nicholas Eberstadt, a Korea specialist at the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI), which appeared in the neoconservative
The Weekly Standard, which is edited by Kristol.
"Tear Down This Tyranny," called for the implementation
of a six-point strategy aimed at ousting North Korean Chairman Kim
Jong-Il, in part by "working around the pro-appeasement crowd
in the South Korean government," which apparently includes
article, published Sunday in the New York Times, detailed
a number of recent indications cited by right-wing officials and
the press in Japan including high-level defections and the
reported circulation of anti-government pamphlets that Kim's
hold on power may be slipping.
noted in particular a recent statement by the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe, that "regime change" was a distinct
possibility and that "we need to start simulations of what
we should do at that time."
reports suggest the presence of emerging cracks in the Stalinist
power structure of North Korea, and even the emergence of serious
dissident activity there," wrote Kristol. "This should
remind us that one of President Bush's top priorities in his second
term will have to be dealing with this wretch[ed] regime,"
he went on, citing Eberstadt's strategy as "useful guidance
for an improved North Korean policy."
article, which criticized Korea policy in Bush's first term for
being both "reactive" and "paralysed by infighting,"
proceeds from the explicit assumption that efforts to persuade North
Korea to give up its nuclear program which U.S. intelligence
believes may already include as many as eight nuclear weapons
are almost certainly futile.
exceedingly unlikely to talk or to bribe the current
North Korean government out of its nuclear quest," according
to Eberstadt in an implicit rejection of the basic goal of the Six-Party
wrote, the nuclear crisis and the North Korean government are essentially
one and the same: "Unless and until we have a better class
of dictator running North Korea, we will be faced with an ongoing
and indeed growing North Korean crisis."
the desired "regime change," Eberstadt called first for
a purge of State Department officials who argued for engaging Pyongyang
during Bush's first term.
according to Eberstadt, should also increase "China's 'ownership'
of the North Korean problem" by making clear to Beijing that
it "will bear high costs if the current de-nuclearization diplomacy
At the same
time, U.S. officials must recognize that South Korea has, under
Kim and the "implacably anti-American and reflexively pro-appeasement"
core of his government, become a "runaway ally"
"a country bordering a state committed to its destruction,
and yet governed increasingly in accordance with graduate-school
'peace studies' desiderata."
of appeasing South Korea's appeasers (as our policy to date has
attempted to do, albeit clumsily)," according to Eberstadt,
"America should be speaking over their heads directly to the
Korean people, building and nurturing the coalitions in South Korean
domestic politics that will ultimately bring a prodigal ally back
into the fold," he argued.
should also ready "the non-diplomatic instruments for North
Korean threat reduction," Eberstadt wrote, arguing that preparing
for the deliberate use of such options presumably an economic
embargo or even military strikes "will actually increase
the probability of a diplomatic success."
the LDP's Abe, Eberstadt called for planning for a "post-Communist
Korean peninsula" with other interested parties, "to maximize
the opportunities and minimize the risks in that delicate and potentially
strategy, according to a number of analysts, largely echoes the
views of Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International
Security John Bolton, a former AEI vice president who is openly
campaigning to become deputy secretary of state under Condoleezza
the administration's most extreme hard-liner, has strong support
in Cheney's office and other right-wing strongholds, including The
Weekly Standard and on the editorial page of the Wall Street
Saturday, right-wing Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who claims
to be on friendly terms with Bolton, told Fuji Television that Bolton
wants to impose economic sanctions against North Korea, which, in
the U.S. official's view, would lead to Kim's ouster "within
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2004 Inter Press Service