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Monday, May 02, 2005

Why did Bush feel the need to denounce Kim Jong Il just now ?

Is he insulting the craziest nuclear armed dictator in the world in order to open a second front on the assult on Lincoln Chafee's integrity ?

Chris Nelson wrote a satirical paragraph in which he "had intended that the satire would be clear, due to the very outrageousness of the idea that a serious professional such as the NSC’s Mike Green would write talking points containing the insulting language used against N. Korea’s Kim Jong-il, in President Bush’s Thursday evening press conference." Steve Clemons took it seriously and I was amazed and wrote a pointless post (below) which does not show due respect for Clemons or Nelson (who are two national treasures in my humble opinion).

However, Nelson's apology and clarification is available to the public as a comment on Clemons' post (unlke his expensive Nelson Report) so I will quote away.

We should have simply underscored the President’s statements by asking what they indicate about his true intentions. We should have noted that they echoed, almost to the quote, the 2003 speech made by UN nominee John Bolton which has become such a bone of contention. (Journalists will recall that Bolton’s staff joyfully “advanced” the speech by urging the press to count the number of times Kim was named in an insulting or demeaning way...our recollection is that Bolton managed this 17 times to the President’s 12.)

The Sunday Washington Post notes that the President’s remarks “took State Department officials and foreign diplomats by surprise, with [the] unusually strong language...”. This especially considering that Asst. Secretary for Asia & the Pacific Chris Hill was still engaged in a delicate, and difficult diplomatic mission, trying to convince China and South Korea that the US is truly serious about seeking a peaceful negotiated settlement of the N. Korean nuclear crisis, and trying to persuade China that if the DPRK won’t come back to the 6 Party process, then a Security Council resolution at the UN should receive China’s support.

Now there is no need to look for ulterior motives when Bush is anti-diplomatic, but I wonder if his aim wasn't to make the administration line correspond to Bolton's personal foray into Kim Jong Il bashing. Still, given how Bush can't stand to lose political battles and doesn't give a damn for diplomacy, I think he is perfectly capable of sabotaging delicate negotiations in order to retrospectively authorise Bolton's previously insubordinate efforts to sabotage delicate negotiations.

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