As President Bush enters two weeks of intense diplomacy over disarming North Korea, American and Asian officials say the nature of the threat it poses to the world has changed significantly in recent years Ã¢€” and with it, so have the bitter arguments over how to prevent a starving, desperate nation from lashing out.
When South Korea’s new president, Roh Moo Hyun, arrives in New York on Sunday and Washington later in the week, he will discover an administration that remains divided about North Korea, as it debates what may prove to be one of the biggest strategic changes toward the Communist government since the Korean War ended 50 years ago this summer.
Mr. Bush’s advisers are engaged in a running argument over whether to continue negotiating with a country that says it is building nuclear weapons, or to organize an international economic blockade meant to leave North Korea’s leadership with a stark choice between collapse and dismantling its nuclear programs.
This is an amazingly complicated, high stakes diplomatic problem. That a team consisting of mature experts with different philosophies and assignments disagree with one another is not only unsurprising, it is laudable. Indeed, one suspects that if there were no dissent the report would be headlined Monolithic Ideologues View only One Side.