January 2, 2003
ROH RODE TIDE OF 'ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT'
** President-elect Roh
Moo-hyun's victory means policy "continuity" in Seoul.
** Roh's "newfound
assertiveness" could risk "breaking the solid alliance" with the
** Asian outlets emphasized
the need for "international unity" as Roh seeks "a leading role
in resolving nuclear issues with North Korea."
Roh likely to follow outgoing President Kim's 'sunshine policy'-- South Korean outlets predicted that Roh, a
"dove," will "follow in [current President] Kim Dae-jung's
footsteps," with both domestic and foreign policy set to "be an
extension of the past administration."
Foreign papers agreed that Roh would likely "keep faith with the
'sunshine' policy of outgoing President Kim" given how South Koreans gave
Roh a "mandate to carry on his predecessor's policy." A Taiwanese diplomat dissented with the
"continuity" theme, telling the respected Taipei Times that
Roh's victory is a "watershed" that "marks a new era of cultural
transformation and changes in political thought." But even this observer predicted that
"after taking office, Roh will continue Kim's North Korea policy."
Roh's victory resulted from 'unprecedented anti-American
sentiment'-- Many writers attributed
the "liberal" Roh's victory to his "tough anti-U.S. talk,"
seeing proof that "not all U.S. allies are particularly happy" with
how "the Bush regime has thrown its weight around
internationally." The pro-PRC Macau
Daily News added Roh would attach "greater importance to safeguarding
national sovereignty" and limit "U.S. privileges." Some called losing candidate Lee Hoi-cheng
the "U.S. government choice," with Russia's centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta calling the results "a defeat for the U.S. and a victory for
Pyongyang." A center-right German
observer concluded South Korea "is cautiously disassociating itself
from...the U.S." Seoul's
independent Joongang Ilbo warned the U.S. not to overreact, declaring
that "if the U.S. denounces South Korea for being hostile only because
Korea is not as manageable as before, we cannot help thinking that America does
not respect South Korea."
Regional, multilateral 'policy coordination' towards the DPRK is
vital-- Following Roh's
election, Asian papers emphasized the need for "international unity"
in dealing with Pyongyang. Japan's
business-oriented Nihon Keizai advised Roh to "promote mutual trust
and understanding with key allies and neighboring countries." Moderate Yomiuri added that Seoul,
Washington and Tokyo must "be able to jointly deal with the
North." The independent Korea
Times, advising Roh to soften his "nationalism," said he
"should be more practical and pragmatic" in relations with other
countries and "distance himself" from former "dogmatic"
policy positions. An independent paper
in Hong Kong called for an "expansive and co-operative relationship
between Seoul and Washington" to "forge a way forward for the benefit
of the wider region--a process that undoubtedly also involves Beijing, Tokyo
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 27 reports from 14 countries over 19-26 December. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
GERMANY: “South Korea
Elects A Dove”
Sophie Muehlmann noted in an editorial in right-of-center Die
Welt of Berlin (12/20): “Two worlds
clashed in South Korea: a liberal presidential candidate who advocated a soft
narrowing of views with the North and a conservative hardliner who, on the U.S.
side, wanted to show Pyongyang its limits. That is why the elections in South
Korea were more than a vote on the new president. It was a referendum on Seoul’s future
relations with Pyongyang and Washington.
It was a narrow victory of the dove over the hawk.... If the Stalinist North had not shown its true
face and admitted secret nuclear ambitions, Roh’s triumph would have been
overwhelming. But following the latest North Korean threat, many South Koreans
pushed the brake. With Roh at the top,
the policy of détente of Nobel Peace laureate Kim Dae-jung will be
continued. Pyongyang will not be
isolated, South Korea will go its own way.
History proved that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il is getting into
fights with others, when he feels pushed into the corner. Maybe the dove from the South will help him
calm down his temper.”
Peter Sturm editorialized in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (12/20): “At least in its
policy towards North Korea, South Korea elected continuity. Roh Moo-hyun’s victory reflects in a
different respect the public mood of many South Koreans. The emerging industrialized country is
cautiously disassociating itself from its most important ally, the United
States. Roh promised to continue efforts
of détente towards North Korea. There is
probably no other way around this strategy.
But Roh should treat the rulers in the North less naive than outgoing
President Kim Dae-jung. North Korea is
unpredictable and the regime is taking full advantage of any weakness. The new president must also pass the test in
economic policy. The preconditions for a
positive development are good and further changes are, according to experts,
necessary. But some people are skeptical
because of Roh's close links to the trade unions.... It is now up to the new president not to
allow the mood that brought him into the Blue House to turn into a mood of
ITALY: ”The Korea Of The Economic
Miracle Goes To Vote”
A report in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore
(12/19) stated: “Five years have passed since the previous elections, but it
seems like a century. Korea is
experiencing a new economic miracle and a euphoric atmosphere is perceivable
everywhere.... Given the fact that
things go so well, the economic policy has not been - like in all elections - a
hot issue during the electoral campaign.
The latter was instead dominated by foreign policy, in particular by two
themes: how to handle relations with North Korea and the alliance with the
United States. This is another strong
difference with the 1977 elections, when the economy was the predominant
issue.... Observers note that, no matter
who should win the elections, the important thing is for Korea to be able to
continue on the road of reform.”
“South Koreans Vote In An Anti-US Atmosphere”
Gabriel Bertinetto wrote in pro-Democratic Left party (DS) L’Unita
(12/19): “In the Korean peninsula, the only place on earth where the Cold War
is somehow surviving, anti-Americanism is paradoxically uniting the two rival
fronts: north of the 38th parallel, where it is an integral part of the
official Communist propaganda, and south, where the military alliance with
Washington won’t prevent the spreading of an increasingly strong impatience
towards this controversial defender.
Anti-American feelings are so strong in South Korea that they have made
a strong appearance in the campaign for today’s presidential elections, forcing
protagonists to deal with this issue and, in some cases, even to modify their
positions about it.”
RUSSIA: "Defeat For
Yevgeniy Verlin said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(12/20): "All observers agree that
the vote actually turned into a national referendum on future relations with
the North. Roh's win is a mandate to
carry on his predecessor's policy. It
also means a defeat for the United States and a victory for Pyongyang, as there
have been quite a few signals from it in the past few days that Roh is a better
chance for peace in the Korean Peninsula."
AUSTRIA: “Seoul Sunshine”
Foreign affairs writer Thomas Vieregge commented
in centrist Die Presse (12/20):
“So, South Korea is to continue its “sunshine policy” towards North
Korea’s rather bizarre regime, which will certainly overshadow Seoul’s
relationship with the US.... The
partition of the Korean Peninsula is one of the last relics of the Cold War.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il’s rather volatile nature guarantees Seoul’s
rapprochement with Pyongyang will be something of a brain twister, but in the
long run a reunification like in Germany seems unavoidable. North Korea could
eventually implode, just like the GDR.”
IRELAND: "South Korea Elects Liberal
Reformer Roh As President"
The liberal Irish Times reported
(12/20): "Mr Roh Moo-hyun, won the
country's presidential election yesterday, a result that could complicate ties
with the US as the allies grapple with North Korea's nuclear programme.... The Bush administration might be less enthused
given Mr Roh's ambivalent statements in the past about the US military
presence.... Mr Roh's campaign rode a
tide of unprecedented anti-American sentiment which brought tens of thousands
on to the streets in anger after a US court martial acquitted two US soldiers
whose armoured vehicle crushed to death two teenage girls during military
exercises in June."
SPAIN: "Continuity In
Left-of-center El País wrote (12/20): "The new elected President is a strong
supporter of maintaining aid and diplomatic exchanges with North Korea, even
though continuing with this position, now backed up at the polls, runs the risk
of breaking the solid alliance between South Korea and Washington. This is because Bush has taken an strong turn
in relations with North Korea. The US
President is disconnecting what President Clinton connected, and the professed
hostility of the White House towards Pyongyang has been exceedingly complicated
after the recent North Korean decision to reactivate its troubling nuclear
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
CHINA (HONG KONG & MACAU SAR):
"Election A Wake-up Call For Washington"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
said (12/21): "Many younger South
Koreans drew considerable hope from the now threatened sunshine policy and were
less than happy at U.S. President George W. Bush's grouping of North Korea
among his self-described 'axis of evil.' Mr. Roh certainly showed himself to be abreast
of the popular mood as he rode the anti-U.S. tide.... Predictably, Mr. Roh offered an olive branch
to the U.S. within hours of his acceptance speech, and Washington also offered
words of conciliation. It is widely
hoped that this can continue in the weeks and months ahead as a solution is
found to ease the tensions that have followed Pyongyang's recent admissions
that it is still running a nuclear program.
Only the most expansive and co-operative relationship between Seoul and
Washington can help forge a way forward for the benefit of the wider region --
a process that undoubtedly also involves Beijing, Tokyo and Moscow.... It is clear not all U.S. allies are particularly
happy with the way the Bush regime has thrown its weight around
internationally. It is hard to see what
more evidence is needed to show Washington that it should take greater steps to
reach out and embrace its closest friends in the formation of foreign policy,
whatever the pressures of the war on terrorism.
Handled right, Mr. Roh could prove a willing and powerful ally in the
drive to bring North Korea to heel."
"Roh Moo-hyun And Korean-U.S. relations"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News had this
editorial (12/21): "Roh Moo-hyun is
expected to follow in Kim Dae-jung's footsteps.
He will mend South Korea's relations with the U.S. while trying to
implement a relatively balanced policy between the U.S. and North Korea. He will encourage the U.S. and North Korea to
abandon confrontation in favor of compromise to secure peace and security on
the Korean Peninsula, as well as to accelerate Korean economic development via
the expansion of North-South exchanges.
One major change will be attaching greater importance to safeguarding
national sovereignty and dignity, limiting U.S. privileges under an amended
South Korean-U.S. status of forces agreement.
Otherwise, there will only be minor adjustments to the overall
relationship. South Korea will ask the
U.S. to listen more and accept its opinions.
South Korea also wants to play a leading role in resolving nuclear
issues with North Korea."
"South Korea's New President Can't Stop Korean Peninsula From
Being A Hot Point"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times
commented (12/20): "Attitudes
toward North Korea dominated the South Korean presidential election. The pacifist Democratic Party candidate, Roh
Moo-hyun, suggested continuing the country's 'sunshine policy,' saying that
even if the U.S. went to war against North Korea, South Korea would remain
neutral. Hawkish Grand National Party
candidate Lee Hoi-chang, supported by the U.S., suggested adopting tougher
policies towards North Korea. The South
Korean people ultimately chose the more moderate Roh Moo-hyun, running counter
to the U.S. government's choice.... In
the newly published book 'Bush at War,' written by renowned U.S. reporter Bob
Woodward, Bush is quoted as saying he sincerely loathed North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il for leading his people to starvation and for posing a military threat
to South Korea. Bush's distaste for the
North Korean leader is well known.... If
Bush can settle the Iraqi issue next year, he is expected to shift his focus to
JAPAN: "How Will Roh
Deal With DPRK?"
An editorial in top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed
(12/20): "South Korean voters chose
ruling Millennium Democratic Party candidate Roh as their new president at a
critical phase in their nation's relations with the DPRK. During his election
campaign, Roh pledged to stick to outgoing President Kim Dae Jung's 'sunshine
policy' of engaging the North. Although this policy goal has been backed by a
majority of voters, Roh will face difficulty in dealing effectively with
concerns over the DPRK's possible WMD proliferation. If Mr. Roh insists on dialogue to solve the
problem of the North's nuclear program, he must spell out a detailed approach.
It is vital for the newly elected South Korean president to clarify his policy
toward the North to foster a close relationship with the Bush administration,
which has become increasingly skeptical about Pyongyang. The new leader will
also have to demonstrate leadership in nipping in the bud anti-U.S. sentiment
in South Korea, which emerged during the presidential campaign. It is of
Japan's great concern that the U.S., Japan and South Korea will be able to
jointly deal with the North."
"Concerns Over Mr. Roh"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (12/20): "Newly-elected South Korean President
Roh has pledged to take over outgoing President Kim's 'sunshine policy' of
engaging North Korea. Although keeping his own distance from the burgeoning
anti-U.S. movement, Mr. Roh is calling for SOFA revision, saying that South
Korea should reduce its excessive dependence on the U.S. and establish a more
equal relationship with Americans. His call for SOFA revision will get support
and understanding from Japan, which has a similar problem. But Mr. Roh should realize that the 'sunshine
policy' is premised on the South Korean-U.S. military alliance that continues
to act as strong deterrent. Both the U.S. and South Korean business leaders are
said to have expressed misgivings about the policy of Roh, who has previously
called for a U.S. military withdrawal from the South. Given the fact that the
incoming president has never been to the U.S., he should visit Washington
before his February inauguration to explain details of his campaign pledge of
promoting South Korea-Japan-U.S. policy coordination toward the North."
"Roh Needs To Strengthen Relations With Key Allies"
An editorial in business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed
(12/20): "As the national leader,
Mr. Roh's policy-making and leadership is still unknown. He should promote
mutual trust and understanding with key allies and neighboring countries,
including the U.S. and Japan. Roh should place top priority on strengthening
alliances with the U.S. and Japan in dealing with North Korea. During a Dec. 4 press conference, he said
that if elected, he would meet with President Bush and strengthen South Korea's
alliance with the U.S., while expressing strong opposition to the North's
nuclear development. But the U.S.
remains skeptical about Mr. Roh, who has previously made remarks suggesting he
would attach greater importance to China than to the U.S. He has suggested that
he will take over outgoing President Kim's 'pro-Japan' policy.... The three allies should not waste any more
time in forging their alliance."
Growing Attitude Among Asian Leaders"
The independent Philippine Star carried a comment by Carmen
Pedrosa stating (12/26): "South
Korea's newfound assertiveness as demonstrated by the election of a man who
once wanted U.S. troops out of the country as president is not unique in Asia.
It can safely be said that it is a growing attitude among the continent's
leaders.... Much will depend on how the
U.S. views this assertiveness. The
challenge is as much for the new South Korean president as it is for President
George W. Bush."
SOUTH KOREA: Obstacles to Roh’s Mediation between the U.S. and
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized
(12/26): “President-elect Roh Moo-hyun,
who described himself as a mediator between the U.S. and North Korea during his
election campaign and since his election, has reportedly been studying his
approach with his foreign affairs and security advisors.... Given the harsh international reality
surrounding the North Korean nuclear crisis, however, Mr. Roh first needs to
study why the U.S. is refusing to negotiate with North Korea. The U.S. move is
not simply part of a ‘war of nerves’ with the North, but it is rather linked to
the basic framework and principle of the Bush Administration’s North Korea
policy and world strategy…. In addition, there is a great danger of the ROK
being torn between the two countries, or becoming the subject of global
criticism questioning whose side it is on. In this case, the ROK alliance with
the U.S. will be threatened…. Furthermore, given that there is talk of Mr. Roh
being short of competent advisors to carry him through, his efforts to solve
the crisis are likely to run into many substantial obstacles.”
"Still Friends After All"
Kim Sok-hwan wrote in independent Joongang
Ilbo (12/26): "Since the
election of Roh Moo-hyun as president of South Korea, the foreign media have
been expressing interest in the future of relations between South Korea and the
United States.... We cannot say
countries ruled by pro-American dictators are amicable to the United States.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington provide an
example. The terrorists came from two countries, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where
the United States had the strongest relations among Arab countries. U.S.
officials in charge of foreign policy were shocked by these unexpected acts. Accordingly, in judging whether a country is
friendly to the United States, taking a look at its culture and public values
will tell much about its position, more than judging by the leader's view. South Korea's younger generations, seeing
only the surface, are demanding a change in relations between Seoul and
Washington.... So, if the United States
regards only the South Korea of the past as being amicable to its national
interests, remembering the pro-U.S. policies of Korean military dictators who
had no legitimacy, it would be a great misunderstanding on the part of
Washington. If the United States denounces South Korea for being hostile only
because Korea is not as manageable as before, we cannot help thinking that
America does not respect South Korea."
“North Korea Starts Removing Surveillance Cameras”
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized
(12/23): “The reason North Korea is
again heightening tensions shortly after the ROK presidential election seems to
be that it wants to strengthen its position further before full cooperation is
established between the U.S. and the ROK, which is currently in a transitional
period between governments. In addition,
the North might be probing President-elect Roh Moo-hyun’s views of North Korea
and the U.S. and possible countermeasures against the North’s nuclear program.
In this regard, President-elect Roh needs to articulate a careful but firm
position on the nuclear issue as early as possible, so as to prevent the North
from misjudging the situation. Furthermore, even though the North Korean
nuclear problem will be the number-one issue when Mr. Roh visits the U.S. next
March -- as promised to President Bush -- given current developments, close
consultations between the USG and ROKG are necessary before his visit.”
"Party Reform Should Start From
Independent Donga Ilbo opined
(12/23): "Reform should begin from
inside.... In this context,
President-elect Roh Moo-hyun was right when he said that reforming the ruling
Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) is the most urgent.... Further, the party need dissolve itself for a
new grouping. At the same time, as the president-elect pledged in the campaign,
a sweeping cleanup should be conducted through primaries involving the public
or nomination from below. When the MDP reform efforts are combined with the
reform movement of the opposition Grand National Party (GNP), which is now
struggling to find a way out, they could create a huge reform trend,
fundamentally changing the Korean political landscape.... In short, President-elect Roh and the new
mainstream within the party should center on overcoming the Kim government,
rather than on succession of it for reform."
"Heal The Divisions First"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (12/20): "Millennium Democratic Party candidate
Roh Moo-hyun has won the 16th presidential election. Now it's time to go beyond
issues of victory and defeat and plan a new future with a new
president.... Roh is no longer the
representative of a single few factions or segments of society. He now
represents the whole country, and as such he needs to seek more universal
legitimacy in his philosophy and in the principles he applies to running the
country. In particular, he needs to be able to encourage a wide-ranging
national consensus on the country's relationships with the North and the United
States. We are seeing the rapid
development of a crisis situation on the Korean Peninsula with the North's
development of its nuclear potential. Roh needs to quickly recognize the
situation for what it is, and work with the government on a response that
includes international unity in dealing with the problem."
"Danger And Opportunity"
Independent Joongang Ilbo opined (12/20): "The outcome of the presidential
election reflects the public's desire for change. The government's North Korea
and foreign affairs policies, thus, must be altered. And yet, the foreign
affairs policy, just like domestic governance, will probably be an extension of
that of the past administration. Mr.
Roh, however, will have to succeed under a significantly damaged alliance
between South Korea and the United States and the erosion of our allies' confidence
incurred by this administration. Without the trust of partner nations, it will
be difficult to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue and control the
anti-American sentiment, necessary to improve inter-Korean relations and
restore the Seoul-Washington alliance....
Since the international community, including Washington and Tokyo,
already has expressed support for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue,
Mr. Roh's approach is key. He must acknowledge the urgency of North Korea's
nuclear threats and come up with feasible ways for a peaceful resolution
promptly.... Uniting the country,
achieving a nuclear-free peninsula and resolving anti-American sentiment are
intertwined. Heightening our country's confidence in North Korea and foreign
affairs policies is the top issue that Mr. Roh must confront."
"People Choose Progressive Reform"
Independent English-language Korea Times
argued (12/20): "Koreans voted for
the eradication of old-fashioned politics, championed by Roh Moo-hyun of the
Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), in the Thursday presidential election. They
put aside assiduous calls for stern judgment of the incumbent Kim Dae-jung
administration, which opposition party candidate Lee Hoi-chang described as
``corrupt and incapable’’ during the campaign.
In a broad sense, there may be no big change in Seoul-Washington
relations, which have been somewhat strained since the inauguration of the
conservative Bush administration and its tough stance towards the Kim Jong-il
regime of the North. But there are bound
to be subtle changes in Seoul’s approach to various problems, as Roh is
regarded as nationalistic and widely backed by young nationalists, one factor
which could lead to more conflict than compromise with George W. Bush’s
unilateralism. He himself vows to put
the bilateral relations on an equal and reciprocal footing and demands America
to respect Korea as a nation with the same human values.... He should be more practical and pragmatic in
relations with the United States, North Korea and other countries and distance
himself from the dogmatic stance he assumed in the course of fighting against
undemocratic governments and capitalists in the past."
"What We Hope For New President Roh"
Independent Donga Ilbo editorialized
(12/20): "Selection of candidate
Roh Moo-hyun of Millennium Democratic Party indicates that the majority of
citizens want some change. In other words, they want a Korea different from
what it had been. The new wave will gulf up the whole society, making a great
noise. That is why we show an ambivalent feeling of expectation and anxiety. We
do need reforming our nation. At the same time, however, we are not sure at
what speed and in what manner the reform should be conducted. We will also closely watch how his ideas
about economics and North Korean policies will take shape. It is necessary for
Roh to ponder over the Korea-US relationship that has been soured over two
Korean girls killed by US solders. Now Roh is president-elect, not just a
candidate. Roh should recognize the real existence of the United States. He might
consider visiting US in the near future."
Taiwan Chief Representative in South Korea Lee
Chung-ru told the respected English-language Taipei Times
(12/21/02): "The Korean people's
passionate and active personalities, as well as their rapidly changing
opinions, have made a strong impression. The most important and direct cause of
Roh's success is the deaths of two female students who were hit by a US armored
vehicle. This accident triggered backlash from South Koreans who have long been
dissatisfied with the US suppression of North Korea. Anti-US sentiment was
detrimental to Roh's contender, Lee Hoi-chang, and instead, became an
advantageous point for Roh. A series of anti-US demonstrations stirred up a
"Roh fever."... In addition to
his personal charisma and his efforts to resolve regional grievances, Roh has a
good grasp of the electorate's discontent about old-man politics such as that
practiced by Kim Dae-jung, King Young-sam and Kim Jong-il, as well as
corruption. This is why he managed to catch younger voters' attention. Roh's victory should be seen as a watershed
separating two political generations in South Korea. It also marks a new era of
cultural transformation and changes in political thought. After taking office, Roh will continue Kim's
North Korea policy and the nation will continue in its efforts in seeking
reconciliation with its northern neighbor. There is no big disparity between
the unification policies advanced by South Korea's ruling and opposition
parties. Only their approaches are different. We should be optimistic about
it. Now the problem lies with North
Korea, which has been marginalized but still sticks to communism. Under the
circumstances, how can it unify with South Korea? China is not willing to sacrifice
itself for the sake of North Korea. So the country finds itself in an
The Bangalore-based left-of-center Deccan Herald opined
(12/21): "The election of Roh
Moo-Hyun as South Korea's new President holds out the promise of a more
peaceful Korean peninsula.... More
important, Roh benefited from an anti-US surge in sentiment sparked by a recent
incident in which a US military tribunal acquitted American soldiers who were
involved in the killing of two Korean girls....
On the eve of election Roh did say that "if the US and North Korea
start a fight, we should dissuade them." Some have interpreted this to
mean that Seoul would not necessarily support the US in a conflict with the
North. He has indicated several times during the poll campaign that he is in
favor of South Korea determining its own policy. But only the coming weeks and
months will tell whether he actually intends steering South Korea towards
adopting more independent positions, especially on peninsula issues, that
benefit his country's interest rather than those of the US. One indication that his tough anti-US talk
during the poll campaign was perhaps electoral posturing is evident from the
fact that he has toned down his position since the victory. While saying he
would press for changes in the US-South Korea agreement that allows for the
presence of 37,000 American troops based on South Korean soil, he has admitted
that nothing in that agreement would be 'drastically changing'. However, Roh would find it hard to ignore the
mood of the younger generation in his country."
SRI LANKA: "'Oppose
America' trend building in Korea"
Independent Sinhala-language Lankadeepa commented
(12/20): "Opposition is building up
against America for its policies toward North Korea. The best example is the middle class protest
against the verdict of an American military court acquitting the suspects in
the death of school girls run over by a military tank. Normally such protest campaigns...are
organized by the radical youth groups."
CANADA: "Reading South
The leading Globe and Mail commented (12/20): "The Bush administration took a big step
yesterday toward a possible war against Iraq by declaring that Baghdad was in
'material breach' of a United Nations disarmament resolution. But, even as it
did so, the White House was grappling
with policy toward another rogue regime, in the wake of the victory of a South
Korean presidential candidate determined to take a softer line with communist
North Korea. The White House was polite in greeting the election of liberal Roh
Moo-hyun. But there's little doubt President George W. Bush would have preferred a victory by conservative Lee
Hoi-chang, who hewed to Washington's
policy to forgo dialogue with North Korea until it dismantles its nuclear
program. Mr. Roh, the candidate of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, is
likely to keep faith with the 'sunshine' policy of outgoing president Kim
Dae-jung.... However, once the Bush
administration has dealt with the Iraq crisis and turns its attention to North
Korea, Mr. Roh may find himself squeezed between his support for engagement and
Washington's conviction that engagement has already been proved a