Friday, September 09, 2005

Back to my roots

It seems like a few weeks since there's been any big news out of Asia. It feels like even longer since I've had anything to say about it. I know, I hear the groans already. You didn't know the internet can do that, but it can.

Today, China announced that the six-party talks regarding the Korean peninsula will resume on Tuesday. Yes, they gave the world a 5 day notice. To hear the NYTimes tell the story, the big issue is whether newly appointed Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea Jay Lefkowitz will cause a derailing of the talks.

In his defense, he's made it clear that he views his position as completely indpendent of, and on a "parrallel" track to the disarmament talks. Too bad the North Koreans have never been good at making those distinctions when it's not to their advantage to do so. The question left for us, is will NK use Lefkowitz appointment (the position was mandated by Congressional legislation) to walk out of/bog down the talks, or will they see his position the way Lefkowitz does: unrelated.

My concern about Lefkowitz is, after a cursory check of online sources, I'm not sure he's a guy I'd want in that position at this time. He started in the Bush administration as general council for the OMB, and a year later was made a "Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy" for you West Wing types, I think that puts him at about Sam's level. You'll notice Sam doesn't really get invovled with foreign issues--because he's a domestic guy. It's possible that Lefkowitz is far more talented than Sam, or has a much broader range of experience. If anyone knows for certain who the "West Wing" equivalent to "Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy" please speak up.

I certainly hope so, or the Korean peninsula might be in for some rocky times ahead.

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