Thursday, June 03, 2004

POTUS in Pyongyang?

The Pentagon is running out of boots on the ground, even though it has resorted to a series of unpopular measures like the stop-loss policy and use of national guards and inactive reservists, angering soldiers and military families. What's the solution? Theoretically, the next POTUS has an option of pulling a "POTUS in Pyongyang" surprise, like "Nixon in China."

John Kerry did suggest that he is open to negotiating bilaterally with North Korea: "Kerry said he would keep all options on the table for dealing with North Korea, but he reiterated his criticism of the Bush administration for its unwillingness to engage in direct talks with the North Koreans, saying he would be open to such discussions in addition to the six-party negotiations underway" (Dan Balz, "Kerry Proposes Nuclear Plan: Senator Says U.S. Must Move Faster to Safeguard Materials," Washington Post, June 2, 2004, p. A07 ), alarming South Korean conservatives (cf. The Chosun Ilbo Editorial, "Unification of Korea?" International Herald Tribune, June 3, 2004).

If Kerry can change US policy on China and North Korea, he can transfer US troops from Japan and South Korea to Iraq: "There are about 37,000 US troops in South Korea, about 47,000 in Japan" (Robert Burns/The Associated Press, "Rumsfeld: U.S. Ready for Military Change," June 3, 2004). (If he is ready to change US policy on Russia, he can withdraw 100,000 US troops from Europe and divert them to Iraq, too.)

If the bilateral talks with North Koera are designed to repeat a Clinton rather than pull a Nixon, though, Kerry can't free up the US troops in Asia for the Iraq campaign. All indications suggest that Kerry -- a man of no vision -- wants to be the second coming of Clinton: "Kerry called bioterrorism second only to the nuclear threat. Asked by AP Radio how he would deal with North Korea and its nuclear arsenal, Kerry said he would hold direct, bilateral talks with North Korea just as President Clinton did to create a process for accountability even if it is flawed" (Darlene Superville/The Associated Press, "Kerry Cites Lack of Bioterror Strategy," Washington Post, June 2, 2004).

It is no wonder, then, that the Pentagon's repeated denials can't extinguish rumors of the draft.

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