February 9, 2009

Diplomats Over Generals in Resolving the Standoff with North Korea

While General Walter Sharp, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, is warning North Korea that "all options" are open if Pyongyang proceeds with a long-range ballistic missile test, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Stephen Bosworth [photo on the left, AP Photo], upon returning from Pyongyang from an academic delegation, said: "We can continue to work towards eventual denuclearization of Korean peninsula, they [North Koreans] understand the Obama administration will need some time to sort itself through the policy review and they expressed patience, there is no sense of alarm or urgency."

From these two statements, it is apparent that diplomats, and not generals, are better poised to resolve the U.S.-North Korea standoff. Stephen Bosworth is mentioned as one of the possible, yet unnamed, special U.S. envoy to North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her first official overseas trip, will be going to Asia, stopping at Japan, South Korea, China and Indonesia. Though this would be an opportune time to step ahead with a diplomatic push to resolve the standoff with North Korea, North Korea is not high on Clinton's agenda, let alone a consideration of a visit to Pyongyang. This is unfortunate as time will be lost and tensions will likely escalate.

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