|Asia News Digest
Senator Kerry Sides with Attack on U.S. Korea Policy
March 2 (EIRNS)Sen. John Kerry's Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing yesterday on U.S. policy towards North Korea, hearing from Robert Carlin, a former CIA and INR (State Department intelligence) Korea expert, who played a critical role in the successful 1994 agreement with North Korea, the "General Framework," under President Bill Clinton. Carlin blasted U.S. policy towards Korea since 2001 (including both the Bush and Obama Administrations) as utterly insane, for throwing away a functioning agreement with Pyongyang, showing that the U.S.'s word can not be trusted, and essentially pushing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Sen. Kerry said he concurred with Carlin on several aspects of his testimony, and said he wanted to continue the discussion with him privatelyall this to the horror of the other witnesses (especially Marcus Noland, the Peterson Institute "Cheneyac" on Korea).
Carlin said that the 1994 agreement with North Korea showed that, "if an agreement is thoughtfully constructed and implemented, the North Koreans will abide by the core of it as long as we do.... But then, abruptly in 2001 [under Bush and Cheney], we stopped talking and apparently stopped listening, ... we tossed overboard all that we had previously gained." Carlin, who has been to North Korea dozens of times, ridiculed the "popular opinion" peddled by the Western press and the "experts" (including his fellow panelists) that North Korea is an economic basket case, and an irrational dictatorship with no national interests.
Carlin did not spare President Obama, telling the Committee: "Every lesson we've taught North Korea over the past ten years is that they're better off depending on a nuclear deterrent rather than trusting us to keep our word. Our policies of the past have caused the problem," adding that these problems "are not confined to one administration or one party."
Although he made no reference to British imperial policies, he said U.S. thinking these past ten years reflects "our national inability, intellectually and emotionally, to understand how states like North Korea work." He described the public discourse on North Korea as "crippled, condescending, irrelevant."
The Obama Administration policy towards North Korea was represented at the hearing by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Special Representative to North Korea Stephen Bosworththat the North must take "irreversible steps to denuclearize," and "cease provocative behavior." Carlin scoffed at such preconditions for U.S.-North Korean talks, and argued that "we should not talk about denuclearization right away. The situation is so deteriorated in terms of our position that we wouldn't get anywhere.... We must talk of a broadened horizon to establish some common ground, then discuss the nuclear issue."
Carlin arguedand Kerry agreedthat the six-party talks are no longer viable, and that the U.S. must talk with North Korea directly, while also encouraging talks between North and South.
People's Daily on U.S. Mideast Policy: Obama a [Qaddafi] Duck
March 1 (EIRNS)People's Daily columnist Le Hongmei developed a sharp critique of U.S. policy in light of current developments in the Middle East, in today's online English edition. She concludes, "It might be too early to predict what the new structure could be like after the revolt recedes in the roaring Arab world. But one thing is almost certain: the U.S. would cease to be the dominant power presiding over the region, and its [Greater Middle East Initiative] would collapse, and President Obama would prove to be a clay pigeon, or a sitting duck, braving the bitter storms at the Arabian Sea.
ASEAN-Plus-Three Agree on Rice Reserve
March 2 (EIRNS)As of yet, there is not a crisis in the availability and pricing of rice, the prime food stuff for Asia, but the pattern of small shortfalls of other important foodstuffs resulting in major speculative price gouging is too daunting to ignore. The ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their dialogue partners, plus China, Japan, and South Korea, have moved to protect themselves, individually and collectively, against a rice disaster. Meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a prime world rice production area, they have agreed to establish rice reserves in each country.
To prevent a repeat of the mistakes made during the 2008 food crisis, they agreed to stabilize the rice prices without making "sudden and demonstrative procurements" that could trigger panic among trade members. Under the agreement, ASEAN and the three partners would contribute 787,000 tons for the rice reserve, with all ASEAN members contributing a total of 87,000 tons; Japan, 250,000 tons, China, 300,000 tons; and South Korea, 150,000 tons.