- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

President Bush has been bombarded by criticism from Democratic politicians and the so-called liberal intellectuals since North Korea announced Monday that it had tested its first nuclear bomb. This is ridiculous. Although Mr. Bush’s supposed inaction has been criticized, he has been trying to operate the six-party talks to disarm North Korea. I am not sympathetic to the criticisms, because they should instead be targeting North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, as well as China and South Korea, the two nations that have been financing North Korea’s nuclear programs indirectly, if not directly.

There is a legitimate question to be asked: Who violated the agreement signed by North Korea and the United States in Geneva in 1994? The United States was faithful to the agreement and supplied heavy oil to North Korea, while South Korea was constructing light water reactors in North Korea. But North Korea was secretly making nuclear bombs, and subsequently disclosed the fact that it has such weapons. Mr. Bush stopped the supply of heavy oil. There was no other way. North Korea was a rogue state. It did not know how to act as a civilized partner to the Agreed Framework signed with the United States 12 years ago. As a matter of fact, North Korea and South Korea had an agreement to keep the Korean Peninsula a nuclear-free zone as early as the 1970s. But Pyongyang did not care about the signed agreement.

North Korea kidnapped South Korean fishermen from the open sea and Japanese citizens from the seashore of Japan, and bombed a South Korean plane. The DPRK sold opium and produced counterfeit U.S. dollars. It has been starving its own people. But it has produced nuclear bomb(s) and long-distance missiles in order to threaten South Korea, Japan and the United States.

How could American liberal intellectuals trust North Korea’s Kim Jong-il and distrust Mr. Bush? President Clinton’s engagement policy was betrayed by Kim Jong-il, and he has also betrayed South Korea’s “Sunshine Policy.” The appeasement policy and Sunshine policy just helped the North Korean dictator sustain his power, rather than have his country go bankrupt.

Mr. Bush’s understanding of North Korea’s dependence on China was admirable. China has always been behind North Korea. Kim Jong-il has been visiting Beijing seeking help, and China has warmly greeted and embraced him. So, China should participate in the six-party talks to change North Korean behavior. Could Mr. Bush have done more? I don’t know, China is joining the United States in supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea. It was a good response from Beijing — for the first time. It was a success for Mr. Bush. I appreciate China’s new stance towards North Korea, and believe South Korea will follow China’s steps. I hope China will keep a distance from its colony-like North Korea, as long as it is an “Animal Farm.” China should be proud of its superpower status, and should act accordingly.

Who are liberal intellectuals? They are supposed to admire civil rights of citizens and civil liberties of citizens — not to support the “Animal Farm” of the 21st century. They are supposed to admire freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of movement. There are no such things in North Korea. That is why it is a rogue state.

Why don’t they want regime change in North Korea — something they should be advocating? There is no way to negotiate with a man like Kim Jong-il.

The United States has limited power to punish the North Korean dictator beyond rhetoric and U.N. sanctions, however effective they may be. Should the United States target a North Korean nuclear-weapons production site, South Korea will beg Washington not to carry out an attack because of concern that Pyongyang will retaliate against its southern neighbor. Under the circumstances, South Korea has been the North Korean dictator’s hostage. Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and current President Roh Moo-hyun have been trying to “please” Kim Jong-il. They have been pathetic. They have been seeking Kim Jong-il’s mercy.

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry should know that whatever conciliatory actions South Korean people made to North Korea have failed. Washington should expect the same result from dealing with North Korea: betrayal. Mr. Bush should not be blamed for “inaction.” He worked hard to establish the six-party talks to disarm North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Now, China is doing something good with regard to North Korea.

Dr. Yearn Hong Choi, a retired college professor in Northern Virginia, served in the Defense Department.

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