Thursday, July 06, 2006

Can China Influence Korea?

In considering North Korea's missile launch, my first response was puzzlement - at why China would not step in and prevent North Korea from such provocative actions. After all, North Korea is driving South Korea and Japan closer to the US, and Japan toward greater military spending, and possibly nuclear weapons. How can China put up with any of that, particularly with a North Korean regime that delivers it no benefit, uses its food and fuel, and steals its train cars?

Well, Business Week suggests that China does not have much influence over what North Korea does.

How comforting is that?

And since I always try to offer a perspective on the domestic political angle, I'll offer this: since North Korea launched its missiles on Tuesday, how much have you heard about Iraq? For better or worse, North Korea is pushing Iraq off the front pages. It may give the Bush administration a whole new, oxygen-sucking issue to succeed or fail on. If the issue remains in the news, then when pollsters ask voters in October, 'do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of defence and foreign policy issues,' people will think primarily of North Korea.

Does that help or hurt the President?

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