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Chaos and Confusion

6 May

 KAL Cartoon (May 3, 2007)

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Must Be the French Wine

6 May

The caustic debate exchange between presidential candidates, Socialist Ségolène Royal and Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, is a brief episode in what I wish I could see in the US. Between Royal’s slow burn and Sarkozy’s cool reasonableness, there was still a valid controversy. According to :

The evening’s big surprise was that Mr Sarkozy managed to keep his cool. Ms Royal, on the other hand, put in a feisty performance that erupted into downright testiness. On the subject of school places for disabled children, she accused Mr Sarkozy of “lying� and of “political immorality�. Mustering all his gravitas, and with a hint of irony, Mr Sarkozy replied: “To be president of the republic, you have to be calm.�

Royal is also opportunistic, making promises she might not have political capital to cash.

Having earlier refused to endorse either candidate, Mr Bayrou said on May 3rd that he would definitely not vote for Mr Sarkozy. He had already implicitly backed Ms Royal, taking part in a television debate with her. They disagreed over her economic policy—too state-centred, he said—but agreed about the need to strengthen democratic accountability. Ms Royal said that she would not rule out naming him her prime minister.

Ms Royal faces tricky manoeuvres. She is courting centrist voters and Socialist moderates, such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He could be her prime minister, she said; that may have surprised Mr Bayrou. Yet she also needs to make sure hard-left voters turn out. She even commissioned a report on globalisation and food security from José Bové, an anti-globalisation campaigner once jailed for trashing a McDonald’s restaurant.

The one element that unites this improbable collection of bedfellows is hostility to Mr Sarkozy. In a particularly scathing attack, Mr Bayrou denounced his “temperament� and “taste for intimidation and threats�. Ms Royal has called him “dangerous� and contrasts her programme of “reform with calm and serenity� with his “path of brutality�.

Sarkozy is .

NK and US Tango

6 May

, concludes:

Maybe the world lost its appetite for vigilante financial justice American style and decided it wanted to let North Korea get the $25 million and give diplomacy a chance.

In order to see where the international united front against North Korea crumbled, it may not be necessary to look much further than South Korea.

And then, :

Now, the United States has gone overboard in imposing the North Korean financial sanctions.

It is not only trying to force the international community to participate in a unilateral sanctions regime that goes beyond the wording and intent of the UN resolution.

It is attempting to maintain that regime even when it conflicts with the agreements made by its own State Department to denuclearize North Korea under the Six Party Agreement.

It’s come to a point where I think that many countries are getting sick of the US preoccupation with the $25 million in BDA.

More dangerously, it threatens to discredit the pretensions of the Patriot Act Section 311 regime to legitimacy and effectiveness in the eyes of the international community—in fact, making it look like another piece of dangerous, stubbornly and incompetently executed idiocy by the Bush administration–just as we wish to use it as the vehicle for our anti-Iran diplomacy.

Finally, the :

Mr. Ban is staying mum on the missed U.N. deadline. But on the evidence so far, Kim can be forgiven if he concludes that the world isn’t serious about enforcing any of its deadlines concerning North Korea.

Far from taking a holier-than-thou attitude, it’s readily apparent that the NK problem is a result of the very real difference of opinion between Seoul and the US, as well as the other other members of the Six-Party coalition. The Bush administration has scant diplomatic capital to spend on selling its position. And, this is where the problem lies. There are many global crises, and for any pundit to elevate one of them into a moral imperative might make for good blog ratings, but it’s hardly good foreign policy. Even without consensus or hegemonic leadership, there needs to be consistency at the national foreign policy level. Unless, of course, one considers muddle as a consistently deliberate choice. For instance, allowing market forces to dictate US Taiwan policy, but then taking the moral high ground against Pyongyang is hypocritical.

Beyond that, there’s . And then, there’s also this (ultimately negative) appraisal of . Just lop off the last paragraph, and it’s a helpful article.

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