Sunday, August 28, 2005

Human rights?! Why that's war talk!

Pyongyang this weekend demanded that the United States cancel its appointment of a special envoy on human rights in North Korea. They warned that the position could hurt progress at the six-way talks in Beijing aimed at ending the nuclear standoff.

North Korea said the appointment "is an act of bad omen that hurts our generous and flexible efforts to resolve the nuclear problem" and demanded the envoy be "removed immediately." Pyongyang sees such moves as a pretext for regime change.

Washington announced last week that Jay Lefkowitz, a former adviser to President Bush, will be in charge of promoting efforts to "improve the human rights of the long-suffering North Korean people." The new post is part of the North Korean Human Rights Act passed by the Senate last year, which provides $24 million a year in humanitarian aid for North Koreans, mostly for refugees.

There is, of course, no reason why the Bush administration should back down on the appointment. If North Korea were to use this as an excuse to end the talks, then they would find something else just as easily.

I'd rather see the Bush administration talking about human rights than military action, which I think at this point is wholly unjustified. Maybe, just maybe, someone will see the light and start realizing that pressuring China into a grand plan (along with South Korea, Japan, and probably Russia and Mongolia) is what is in order.

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