Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kim Dae-Jung, RIP

The human rights leader and dissident of South Korea who was sentenced to death by the military dictatorship in 1980, spent many years in jail, and was tortured, has died at 85. He came to serve as president of the nation, 1998-2003. During his term he made the first visit by a South Korean president to North Korea, making agreements for some degree of opening between the governments, some of these now being rolled back by the current government. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, a truly admirable man.

One of the signs that wackos were in charge of US foreign policy during the Bush administration came early on in March, 2001. President Kim went to Washington to meet the new US president. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell was operating on the assumption that US policy would be a continuation of what had been going on in the last year or so of the Clinton administration that supported Kim's diplomatic efforts with the North. An hour before his meeting with Bush, the meeting was suddenly cancelled, which led to a loss of face by Kim and a major collapse of favorable attitudes towards the US in South Korea that have not recovered since. We now know that this was due to Cheney and Rumsfeld's interventions, especially by Cheney, who argued to pressure the North Koreans more aggressively because they would collapse like the Soviets 20 years ago. Of course the outcome of this inane policy was that they got nuclear weapons and have not yet collapsed. In any case, I am prepared to join others here in South Korea in mourning the death of this heroic leader of theirs who was so stupidly humiliated by the Bush administration.

1 comment:

Daro said...

I've always noted an anti-American perspective amongst foreigners here in Tokyo, offset largely by an equally blind support for the US from the Japanese. That was pre-Bush. Now it's pretty much open scorn on both sides. I think most Americans suspect how much damage Bush did to the US image overseas but they'd be shocked how bad it really is.