Foreign policy expert warns of nuclear holocaust
Sherman criticized President George W. Bush for turning away from direct negotiations to halt North Koreas efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Instead of continuing the discussions that were initiated under former President Clinton and were about to bear fruit, she said, the Bush administration regionalized the problem through joint talks by six interested parties--China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, North Korea and the U.S.
A forum is not a policy, and talks that never go anywhere quickly lose their appeal and any hope of effectiveness, Sherman said. In fact, painfully, four years after creation of such a forum, North Korea appears to have more nuclear weapons than [it had] at the start of the Bush administration, and the Bush administration has fewer options to stop North Korea, particularly in the wake of Iraq, than it had four years ago.
Sherman, who was the counselor of the Department of State from 1997-2001, serving then-Secretary Albright as special adviser and consultant on major issues of foreign policy, gave a lecture, Asia Enigma: China and North Korea, the final part of Prescription for the President: Policy Medicine for Global Challenges, a series of Global Agenda lectures, which are free and open to the public.
The lectures by diplomats, journalists and other foreign affairs practitioners focus on the international problems facing President George W. Bush in his second term. Such concerns include the occupation and war in Iraq, as well as nuclear threats in North Korea, Iran and Russia. Other issues addressed by the series have included terrorism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and political and economic challenges in Europe and Asia.
Sherman outlined the complex relationships between the countries involved in the six-party talks, including Chinas emergence as a global economic power, its links to Japan and interests in both North Korea and South Korea, Russias quest to remain a significant player in major global issues and the possibility of Japan developing nuclear weapons in a regional arms race triggered by North Korea.
The U.S.--the world--is facing a nuclear weapons proliferation crisis. Whether confronting the crisis in North Korea or Iran, the U.S. government and the American people are not facing the reality of the threat, Sherman said.
The Bush administration, in my view, in its seeming neglect of the crisis on the Korean peninsula, has increased the threat to us all. If the administration is not prepared to change face, we might just be seeing the downward spiral to a nuclear holocaust that would change the face of the Earth. If, however, the administration will face the reality of a changing Asia, we can lead the way to a much safer world, she said.
The audience included seven students in UDs English Language Institute from Taiwan, Palestine, Thailand, Japan and South Korea, and their instructor, Barbara Gillette.
I was very impressed because I didnt know that so many Americans were interested in relations between North Korea and the U.S.A., Yoonji Kim, a 21-year-old South Korean, said of the more than 200 students, faculty, staff and local residents who attended the lecture in Mitchell Hall.
If you ask a lot of South Koreans if they want a reunion, they will say the dont want it because of the economic problems [it would bring], Jaerin Kim said. If North Korea suddenly collapsed, it would be a problem.
Mihiro Michimasa, a 22-year-old student from Japan, said she grew up hearing stories about the devastation and long-term health and genetic problems that resulted from the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, and her prayer is that Japan never develops nuclear weapons.
Sherman, who made an official visit with Albright to North Korea and met its leader, Kim Jong-Il, said the mercurial leader is not crazy, but seems to have a sense of megalomania because when you live in a virtual cult society, where all things are attributed to you as a person, it has to do something to your sense of yourself.
Besides playing a more central role and resuming direct talks, Sherman recommended public U.S. support for a proposed visit to North Korea by Chinas president, Hu Jintao, who also should deliver a private letter from the U.S. to Kim Jong-Il. She said the parties involved in the talks should jointly pledge to provide nuclear energy technology to countries that join a revised and strengthened nuclear nonproliferation treaty, and the U.S. should tone down its tough talk.
The alternative, Sherman said, would be confronting the reality of a nuclear North Korea and the complications and risks that would come with it.
The president should remember that we are the big country and [North Korea] is the little country. Name-calling in this situation only begets name-calling, further loss of face, more stubborn posturing and less talking, Sherman said. Instead, the U.S. ought to indicate that it is time for serious negotiations that include bilateral discussion within the context of the six-party talks as all other parties already do.
Carolyn Kindelan, a senior psychology major who asked Sherman about the psychology of the North Korean issue, said the problem appears to be a battle of egos.
To me it just sounded like a problem of personalities, like political personalities clashing, she said. We know North Koreas leader clearly seems, to me, like a power-hungry egomaniac, so hes not going to just stop what hes doing, and, in the meantime, we are just wasting valuable time. It seems like psychology to me, like two people just not communicating.
Article by Martin Mbugua
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