With the much-anticipated North Korean space launch so long in coming, everyone’s running out of things to say. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post gets a few different perspectives on Stephen Bosworth, everyone’s favorite part-time envoy, and his controversial part-time-itude.
Buried at the end of the story is the good stuff, some comments from Bruce Wayne himself. You read, I’ll interpret:
“I will not be the day-to-day representative in the six-party negotiations,” Bosworth said, adding that he will focus more on broader policy issues, including bilateral negotiations with North Korea. “Ideally one would like to meet with the leader,” Kim Jong Il, he said. “I would like to reach higher in the foreign ministry than we have been able to.”
Translation: Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan—considered, relatively speaking, the voice of reasonableness, and the most authoritative figure who routinely speaks to foreigners—has been hard to reach lately. Perhaps they want to make their point with that space launch first.
The new envoy said key periods when he must be at the school are fairly predictable. “A lot of what I do for Fletcher, I can do on the road,” he said. “I don’t see a major problem. I think that it is manageable. I am fortunate in that I have extremely good people in both operations, and I will rely heavily on them.”
Translation: You can send emails from the Beijing airport these days, you know, as long as you don’t mind the Chinese reading them.
Bosworth said it was a surprise to him when Clinton called and offered the job. By coincidence, he was visiting North Korea when rumors began circulating that he would be tapped.
“As I told the North Koreans, I had not had a single conversation with anyone in the Obama administration about anything. But as soon as I returned from Beijing, I was asked to call the State Department and ended up talking to the secretary,” he said. “She was very explicit that, in her view, this could be done in coordination with the deanship.”
Translation: I’m doing this job on my own terms. I’m not planning to sit by the phone in Foggy Bottom, waiting for KJI to call, thankyouverymuch.
The abovementioned visit was covered right here at your very favorite arms control/nonproliferation website. So was the odd way that the South Korean press had the story before Bosworth did.
“We have got to deal with it,” Bosworth said, referring to the North Korean nuclear arsenal. “It has strategic urgency. You can’t simply let it cool, not only because of its implications for us but also because of its implications for countries in the area, including our two allies [Japan and South Korea]. So we’ve got to be seen to be dealing with this. That being said, it sure is not easy.”
Translation: What he said.
Bonus item! The invaluable FCNL Nuclear Calendar mentions an upcoming talk, involving some other folks who were in North Korea around the same time as Stephen Bosworth and the High Council of Morts:
March 30 Noon-2:00 p.m., Susan Shirk and Stephan Haggard, University of California, San Diego; Marcus Noland, Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Karin Lee, National Committee on North Korea, “The Political and Economic Situation in North Korea: Implications for U.S. Policy.” University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington. RSVP to Joseph McGhee by email.
Incidentally, this event is not listed at the website of the University of California Washington Center. C’mon, folks, get with the program…