Another entry from
the annals of oops.
Another crucial task for the United States is to focus on relations with
other powerful states. Although the United States is fortunate to count
among its friends several great powers, it is important not to take them
for granted-so that there is a firm foundation when it comes time to rely
on them. The challenges of China and North Korea require coordination and
cooperation with Japan and South Korea. The signals that we send to our
real partners are important. Never again should an American president go
to Beijing for nine days and refuse to stop in Tokyo or Seoul.
Many analysts say the growing anti-Americanism here has emboldened North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, to ratchet up the confrontation because he is secure that the Bush administration cannot wage war against him, or even contain him, without the support of South Korea, and equally secure that such support is lacking.
Through the Cold War and the last decade, governments in Washington and Seoul danced in lockstep. But that changed under the rule of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, whose "sunshine policy" toward the North has relied upon engagement and reconciliation, expanding trade and aid while reuniting families divided by the Demilitarized Zone.
While Bill Clinton was in power, the sunshine policy caused no discord. But when President Bush came into office and branded North Korea part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and Iran, it embarrassed Kim and caused a cleavage in Seoul's dealings with Washington.