NAPSNet Daily Report 14 September, 1999

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 14 September, 1999", NAPSNet Daily Report, September 14, 1999, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-14-september-1999/

 
CONTENTS

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. Australia

IV. Announcement

I. United States

1. US Sanctions on DPRK

The New York Times (David E. Sanger, “CLINTON IS READY TO SCRAP SOME NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS,” Auckland, 09/14/99), The Washington Post (John F. Harris, “OFFICIALS DEFEND PLAN TO REWARD N. KOREA Auckland, 09/14/99, A24) and The Wall Street Journal (Neil King Jr., “CLINTON TO LIFT SOME TRADE SANCTIONS FOR NORTH KOREA AS TALKS CONTINUE,” Washington, 09/14/99) reported that US President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that he was preparing to lift some trade sanctions against the DPRK. Clinton stated, “We understand and expect North Korea will refrain from testing long-range missiles of any kind while our discussions continue.” An unnamed US official said Tuesday, “What we feared was a new crisis in Korea at the exact moment that there’s heightened tension between China and Taiwan and the insertion of peacekeeping troops in Indonesia. That would have been an ugly combination, and we may have ducked it.” US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said Monday, “Essentially North Korea would be in the same status as Syria” in that the types and amount of commerce would still be strictly controlled. On Tuesday, he added, “If we’re going to embark on a different course, a course which could conceivably lead to a long-term moratorium on a missile program, that suggests the possibility of a different kind of relationship with North Korea. Obviously, if that’s the case, it’s appropriate for us to take some steps which would ease some of the sanctions that we have in North Korea.” One unnamed US official said that the lifting of restrictions on remittances to the DPRK could be the most meaningful development, adding, “The rest is in many respects symbolic.” Representative Benjamin Gilman, Republican, New York, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he was worried that the DPRK might be making promises in order to get hold of Japanese war-reparation funds. Gilman stated, “If true, this agreement opens the way for another round of North Korean extortion.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for September 14.]

US State Department Spokesman Jamie Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1999,” USIA Transcript, 09/13/99) pointed out that the US has always said that, as the DPRK implements the 1994 Agreed Framework, the US would move forward to improve the economic and political relationship. He stated, “So I think one has to be careful drawing direct linkages, when this possibility has existed for some time.” Rubin added that the latest agreement “is not a formal document … but … in the past when similar arrangements were made that were short of a treaty or a formal agreement we believe that we have understood how to read the signals accurately.” Rubin added, “if you look at those areas primarily under the Trading With the Enemy Act, that go beyond the restrictions imposed on North Korea because they are on the list of terrorist states, there are some sanctions that [US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright] is prepared to recommend the easing of.” He stated, “we also expect that Secretary Perry’s report will be going to the Congress in the coming days.” Rubin stated, “prime among any objective in our negotiations to improve relations would be to formalize the intentions of North Korea with respect to the testing of missiles. So we would expect to continue to negotiate for quite some time, until we were able to achieve that objective; including getting Bob Einhorn and others to meet with the North Koreans on the substance of this.” [Ed. note: A fact sheet on US sanctions against the DPRK is available in the NAPSNet Special Reports archive.]

2. Analyses of US-DPRK Agreement

Reuters carried an analytical article (Linda Sieg, “NKOREA SCORES IN US TALKS, FUTURE CLOUDY,” Tokyo, 09/13/99) which said that security analysts said that the US-DPRK missile agreement leaves the DPRK the option of raising the missile issue again later. Noriyuki Suzuki, director of Tokyo-based Radiopress, stated, “This agreement has averted the crisis for now.” He added, “North Korea received something simply by doing nothing. It is a success for North Korean diplomacy.” Suzuki stated, “The bigger question is whether talks on America’s proposed ‘comprehensive approach’ will start and in this connection what is most important is whether Perry will release his report. I think he will…but then will North Korea agree on that approach? I don’t think so.” Unnamed analysts said that the agreement was a blessing for the US President Bill Clinton administration, but they added that Clinton would still have trouble convincing Congress that easing sanctions was the right move. Lee Ki-won, vice president of the Institute of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said that the agreement also is a victory for ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy.” Satoshi Morimoto, a senior analyst with Nomura Research Institute, stated, “North Korea will never say for how long it will put off the missile launch and will never promise not to launch. The tentative agreement is good, but the big issues have been postponed, that’s all.”

The Los Angeles Times carried an editorial (“BE CAUTIOUS IN N. KOREA TALKS,” 09/14/99) which said that the DPRK’s moratorium on missile testing is tenuous. The article stated, “Given North Korea’s negotiating style, … talks are likely to last only so long as Pyongyang can wring concessions from Washington, using as leverage its threat to resume testing.” It added that the agreement, “does nothing to limit North Korea’s investment in building bigger and better missiles, and it does nothing to curb its sales of missiles and missile technology to states that are in the habit of threatening their neighbors.” It concluded, “By all means let bilateral talks continue, so long as it’s understood that these must be real give-and-take negotiations, not a demonstration of Pyongyang’s skills at extortion.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for September 14.]

The Washington Post carried an editorial (“NORTH KOREA’S STRATEGY,” 09/14/99, 28) which said that the latest US-DPRK agreement fit into a pattern of DPRK diplomatic blackmail. The article added, “But this latest outcome gives at least some hope for a break in the pattern. In following a policy now being fashioned, at President Clinton’s request, by former defense secretary William Perry, the United States and its allies seemed as serious about sanctions as about rewards…. As far as is publicly known, the allies didn’t promise anything unseemly in the way of inducements.” It concluded, “given the bankruptcy of North Korea’s economy and its economic policy, such an easing [of US sanctions] isn’t likely to have much practical effect. But it has the advantage of supporting the ‘Sunshine Policy’ of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, an elected leader who merits considerable deference in this matter. And it might persuade North Korea’s regime to begin looking for ways other than blackmail to interact with the rest of the world.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for September 14.]

3. DPRK Biochemical Weapons

Reuters (“JAPAN CONCERNED OVER N.KOREA BIOCHEMICAL WARHEADS,” Tokyo, 09/14/99) reported that Japanese Defense Agency chief Hosei Norota said Tuesday that Japan is working on contingency plans in case the DPRK launches missiles with biological or chemical warheads. Norota said that the US-DPRK agreement in Berlin did not mean that the DPRK had ended its missile development program. He said that several factories in the DPRK were producing toxic gas and germs that could be used in weapons. He added, “And if North Korea fired a missile with a biological or chemical weapons, rather than a nuclear weapon, on densely-populated Tokyo, damage could be enormous. Therefore, we are always studying measures to respond to such attacks.” Japan’s Defense Agency is seeking 2.4 billion yen (US$22.6 million) for the next fiscal year to deal with possible attacks involving nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Tuesday, “If North Korea makes it clear (that it will not test-fire the missile) in their talks with the U.S., or if Japan can confirm such intentions through direct talks with North Korea, then we are willing to consider (lifting sanctions).” He added that while Japan will continue to coordinate with the ROK and the US on DPRK policy, “that does not mean that our policies have to be exactly the same.”

4. Kazakstan Fighter Sale to DPRK

The Associated Press (“KAZAK MAN DETAINED IN MIG SALES TO N KOREA,” Almaty, 09/14/99) reported that Kenzhebulat Beknasarov, press spokesman of the Kazak National Security Committee, said Tuesday that a Kazak man has been detained for complicity in the sale of 30 Mig-21 fighter planes to the DPRK. Beknasarov said that the man had received US $1.8 million for serving as a go-between in the deal. He added that the DPRK paid US$8 million for the planes, and that various foreigners had also been involved in the deal.

5. DPRK Defector

The Associated Press (“N. KOREAN SOLDIER ENTERS S. KOREA,” Seoul, 09/14/99) reported that the ROK Defense Ministry said that a DPRK soldier swam across the Demilitarized Zone on Tuesday and sought asylum in the ROK. The soldier, wearing only black underpants and carrying no weapons, swam to a small island just south of the western sea border and told an ROK farmer that he was a defector.

6. PRC War Games

The Associated Press (Christopher Bodeen, “TAIWAN: CHINESE WAR GAMES ROUTINE,” Taipei, 09/14/99) reported that Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Kung Fan-ding said that recent war games reported by the PRC’s official media were routine annual exercises. Kung said that the PRC “wishes to make use of media reports to show off their ability to launch amphibious operations and strike at the morale of our people.” Kung said that the exercises in Guangdong province were still going on, while other war games in Zhejiang province have ended and participating troops have returned to their barracks.

7. Alleged PRC Missile Sales to Pakistan

Reuters (Carol Giacomo, “U.S. SAYS PAKISTAN HAS FULL CHINESE MISSILE SYSTEM,” Washington, 09/13/99) reported that US administration and congressional sources said on Monday that a new US intelligence report states publicly for the first time that Pakistan has received M-11 short-range ballistic missiles from the PRC. An unnamed administration official stated, “That’s the first time that I’m aware of in an unclassified forum that there has been that specific a statement.” A US State Department official said that the finding is not based on any new information. He added, “In terms of a determination, we have not reached a legal conclusion that Pakistan has received full M-11 missiles.”

8. Japanese Military Exercises

The Associated Press (“JAPAN HOLDS MILITARY EXERCISES,” Hataoka, 09/11/99) reported that about 1,700 Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers participated in live fire drills Saturday at the foot of Mount Fuji. The annual drills included Japanese F-4 fighters for the first time. An anonymous Defense Agency spokesman said that this year’s drills were not different in scope from those in the past.

9. Japanese Seat on UN Security Council

The Associated Press (Edith M. Lederer, “U.S. ENVOY WANTS UN SEAT FOR JAPAN,” United Nations, 09/14/99) reported that US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke said that he intends to campaign for Japan to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Holbrooke stated, “I intend to work vigorously for it.” He added, however, “I would be misleading you if I didn’t say it was going to be difficult. There are many complexities to it.”

10. ABM Treaty

The Washington Post (“COHEN PREDICTS CHANGES TO ABM TREATY,” Moscow, 09/14/99, 24) reported that US Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said that the US eventually will persuade Russia to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. Cohen stated, “I would expect that this would take quite a few more discussions, but I believe that if we approach this in a constructive fashion, we can in fact provide for some modifications.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for September 14.]

II. Republic of Korea

1. DPRK-US Talks

Joongang Ilbo (Bong Hwa-shik, “NORTH KOREA-U.S. AGREE ON TENTATIVE DEAL,” Seoul, 09/13/99), The Korea Times (“US AGREES TO EASE NK SANCTIONS IN RETURN FOR MISSILE LAUNCH HALT,” Seoul, 09/13/99; Son Key-young, “US, NORTH KOREA REACH ACCORD ON MISSILE TALKS,” Seoul, 09/13/99) and Chosun Ilbo (Park Du-shik, “BREAKTHROUGH AT BERLIN TALKS,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that the US and the DPRK reached a tentative deal on Monday on the DPRK’s long-range missile development program. The two sides reached a “deeper understanding” at the conclusion of the Berlin talks on Sunday before an agreement was reached on Monday whereby the DPRK will cease testing and developing long-range missiles. The US will probably ease sanctions against the DPRK, a US National Security Adviser attending the APEC forum in Auckland, New Zealand said. “It is now our hope that North Korea will refrain from developing any new long-range missiles at this time to improve relations,” he added. He also said the US is satisfied with the progress of the missile talks, which are to continue at a later date.

2. ROK View on DPRK-US Talks

The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “PROGRESS IN BERLIN TALKS RENEWS HOPES FOR IMPROVED INTER- KOREAN RELATIONSHIP,” Seoul, 09/14/99) and The Korea Times (Son Key-young, “NK, US EMBARK ON LONG JOURNEY IN RIGHT DIRECTION,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that ROK officials and analysts on Monday said that they hoped the breakthrough in the US-DPRK talks would help melt the frozen inter-Korean relationship. Lee Jong-suk, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute said, “North Korea’s agreement to shelve its additional missile launch means it has chosen dialogue rather than confrontation with its rival countries, including South Korea. This means the Seoul government can more actively push ahead with its engagement policy toward North Korea, relatively free from criticism from hawks both at home and abroad.” Other analysts, however, said that Sunday’s agreement would prompt the DPRK to alienate the ROK as its dialogue partner, as the consequent favorable atmosphere for the DPRK would enable its leadership to seek more benefits directly from the US and possibly Japan, bypassing the ROK. Still other experts said that the US lifting of economic sanctions on the DPRK may end up as just a symbolic move, something the DPRK might already suspect. Paek Hak-soon, another research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said, “North Korea is well aware that only the South can eventually present what they need, either food or other economic benefits. In addition, not only the U.S. Republicans, who are opposed to engagement in the North with exclusion of the South, but even China, North Korea’s closest ally, has threatened to curtail aid for the North, believing it would prompt Pyongyang to change its mind.” Due to such an atmosphere among neighboring countries, Paek continued, the DPRK would eventually come to the dialogue table with the ROK. ROK government officials expressed their optimism over the exchanges between the two sides. “Although North Korea has yet to agree on the resumption of suspended governmental dialogue anytime soon, we will continue to push for it with a leverage of governmental food aid or agricultural support, which will eventually make the North meet the South,” a Unification Ministry official said.

The Korea Herald (Shin Yong-bae, “U.S., N.K. TAKE FIRST STEP FOR TALKS ON PERRY REPORT,” Seoul, 09/14/99) and The Korea Times (Lee Chang-sup, “N.KOREA SLOWLY MOVING TO ACCOMMODATE PERRY’S PEACE PROPOSAL: MIN. HONG,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that ROK analysts said on Monday that by reaching a breakthrough in the missile talks in Berlin on Sunday, the US and the DPRK took the first step toward negotiations over a new package peace proposal aimed at improving bilateral relations. A senior official at the ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said that the US would likely announce what economic sanctions it will lift this week. The US is reportedly considering excluding the DPRK from the list affected by its Trading with the Enemy Act. Speculation also has it that the US is planning to provide massive food aid to the DPRK. As the US and the DPRK eased concerns about the missile threats, the two sides are expected to hold higher-level talks to bargain on the Perry report. “By drawing the North’s suspension on its plan to test-launch a missile at the Berlin talks, the stumbling block to beginning negotiations over the Perry report was removed,” said Park Jong-chul, an ROK expert on the DPRK. ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong Soon-young said in Auckland, New Zealand, that there is a possibility that DPRK First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju will visit Washington to meet Perry.

3. DPRK Position on Maritime Border

Joongang Ilbo (Kang Joo-an, “NORTH KOREA DENOUNCES SOUTH AND U.S. AS ‘VIOLATORS’,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that the DPRK’s official Radio Pyongyang on September 12 carried a statement from the People’s Armed Forces, stating in effect that the DPRK military denounced the decision of the ROK and the US in rejecting the alternative borderline in the West Sea declared by the DPRK. The broadcast said, “South Korea and the U.S. insisted that the alternative borderline violates the cease-fire agreement. However, their statement is nothing but a paroxysm of unstable people, as the unfairness of the current Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been announced to the world by our declaration. The true violators of the cease-fire agreement are not the North but South Korea and the U.S., as their warships intruded within our maritime border in June.” Radio Pyongyang said, “If they keep on insisting on the NLL and invade our waters, we will crush them through various and cruel means.”

4. ROK Participation in East Timor Peacekeeping

The Korea Herald (“SEOUL PLANNING TO JOIN PKO IN EAST TIMOR,” Seoul, 09/14/99) and Chosun Ilbo (Choi Jun-seok, “GOVERNMENT CONSIDERING TROOPS FOR EAST TIMOR,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that ROK officials said on Monday that the ROK government is planning to join the expected UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) in East Timor. “Within our capabilities, we will participate in international efforts to help East Timor establish independence peacefully,” said a spokesman for the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The ministry revealed the plan as Indonesian President B.J. Habibie agreed on Sunday on the sending of UN peacekeeping forces to East Timor. The spokesman said in a statement that it is necessary for the UN to support East Timorese hopes for independence under cooperation with the Indonesian government. The ROK government’s plan to participate in PKO is in line with ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s call during the APEC summit talks in Auckland on Sunday for the UN’s active role in settling the crisis in East Timor.

The Korea Times (“NCNP CALLS FOR PEACEKEEPER DISPATCH TO EAST TIMOR,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that the ROK governing National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) on Sunday called on the government to positively consider dispatching armed forces to East Timor as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Operation troops. “We as the nation with the history of the anti-Japanese independence movement and anti-dictatorial struggle believe it is necessary to take part in the peace keeping operation, with the aim of resolving the human rights, freedom and independence of East Timor,” said party spokesman Lee Young-il.

5. APEC Forum

The Korea Herald (Chon Shi-yong, “APEC PLEDGES COMMITMENT TO NEW WTO TRADE ROUND,” Auckland, 09/14/99), Chosun Ilbo (Hong Joon-ho, “KIM PROPOSES SEOUL FORUM ON ECONOMIC DISPARITY,” Seoul, 09/13/99), The Korea Times (Lee Chang-sup, “KIM CALLS FOR GLOBAL FINANCIAL SUMMIT,” Auckland, 09/13/99) and The Korea Herald (Chon Shi-yong, “APEC LEADERS’ DECLARATION INCLUDES PRESIDENT KIM’S SUGGESTIONS, AIDES SAY,” Auckland, 09/14/99) reported that the leaders of the 21 Pacific Rim nations ended their annual summit on Monday with a pledge to support the new round of global trade talks and enhance cooperation on strengthening the international financial architecture. “We will give the strongest possible support at Seattle to the launch of a new round of multilateral negotiations within the WTO, and endorse the positions adopted by ministers.” “We call on all World Trade Organization members to join us at Seattle in a commitment to impose new or more restrictive trade measures for the duration of the negotiations, as applied during the Uruguay Round,” the joint declaration said. “We also support the developing consensus on the need to ensure that reforms of the international financial system, and domestic financial markets, are mutually reinforcing,” the statement said. It added that APEC advocates greater transparency and openness, including improved reliability and timeliness of information and clearer accountability for decisions and judgments. ROK President Kim Dae-jung proposed that his country host a policy dialogue, named the “Seoul Forum,” early next year to discuss ways to prevent the recurrence of crisis by sharing ROK’s experience in overcoming the 1997 crisis. The forum would also seek ways to alleviate the economic and social disparities among the APEC member economies.

6. ROK Opposition Leader in US

The Korea Times (Kim Yong-bom, “LEE CHARGES KIM’S GOV’T WITH AUTHORITARIANISM, POPULISM,” Seoul, 09/13/99) reported that Lee Hoi-chang, president of the ROK opposition Grand National Party, charged ROK President Kim Dae-jung with “authoritarianism” and “populism” in his address to the Asia Society in New York. “Kim’s administration has not broken off with a host of past authoritarian practices, including suppression of the political opposition, sidelining the National Assembly, and even manipulation of the press… Government agencies are still used as instruments to engage in political suppression of the opposition,” Lee said. He said that the problem is rooted in centralized power placed in the hands of a president who makes or breaks all major decisions. Secondly, Lee accused the government of focusing on political expediency – pursuing short-term, partisan goals at the expense of long-term national interests and placing personal gains ahead of the greater public good. In the address, Lee proposed an “enlightened leadership” as a desirable governing style, as opposed to what he calls the “all-powerful, imperial presidency” of President Kim. “Practical but principled, powerful yet properly restrained leadership is the kind needed for the nation to establish true democracy and a sound market economy,” Lee said.

III. Australia

1. Australian Views of East Timor

[Ed. note: The following compilation of Australian reports on East Timor was compiled by the Asia Institute of Monash University in Clayton, Australia.]

The Australian (Greg Sheridan, “MISJUDGEMENTS WILL HURT US TOO”, 09/10/99) argued that no one should underestimate the humanitarian tragedy of East Timor. But at some point Australia will also have to consider the impact of all of this on the Australian national interest. There is now every chance that we are going to get the worst of all possible worlds. We have had a humanitarian tragedy, but we also appear to have repolarised Indonesian politics. Whether Habibie survives until November or not is really beside the point – he is clearly impotent in dealing with his own military. Instead, Indonesia is experiencing a surge of destructive nationalism with results no one can yet predict. Canberra always had serious national interest objectives beyond the humanitarian goal of gaining self-determination for East Timor. These involved removing East Timor as the one great negative in the Australian-Indonesian relationship. Instead, the relationship with Indonesia will take years to recover, if it ever does. That feeds directly into the security environment Australia faces. We are now widely despised at virtually every point along the Indonesian political spectrum.

The Age (Melbourne) (Hanish McDonald and Louise Willliams, “TO WHAT END INDONESIA?” 09/11/99) reported that the pride and spite of the Indonesian military, and perhaps some members of the political elite in Jakarta, is so great “that East Timor must be purged of those who dared to lead their people, in the face of Indonesian terror and intimidation to vote overwhelmingly against Jakarta’s rule.” For Indonesia, East Timor represents the crisis point of a dangerous power struggle between the military and its allies in the political elite, and the fledgling democratic movement. It cannot be exaggerated just how complicated and destabilising the future can be. The cleavage lives in Indonesian society run deep. But the democratic freedoms won last year also appear to have unleashed a new willingness to ignore the causes of Indonesia’s economic misery and look for convenient scapegoats instead. “Political competition at the top exposes the poor to manipulation and violence.”

The Australian (Editorial, “TIMOR TRAGEDY SHOWS WHERE WE STAND”, 09/11/99) argued that this last week has been an agonising tragedy for East Timor and a sobering experience for Australia. The awful reality is that Australia, militarily, can do nothing more in East Timor. Before Australian peacekeepers can land, we must wait to be asked. We have no weight in Washington that would convince it to commit troops to a peacekeeping force, and we certainly do have no special relationship left with the Indonesian leadership that would convince it to change its course. “What the events in Timor have shown is that we are militarily weak, politically naive, and strategically alone. We now know that we cannot take for granted our security relationship with the US. The US has made it clear that it will not risk American lives on the ground in East Timor. The little island to the north of Australia is not part of its permanent interests, whereas having a workable relationship with the world’s fourth most populous nation is.”

The Age (Melbourne) (Editorial, “A RUDE AWAKENING: WE’RE ON OUR OWN”, 09/11/99) suggested that the East Timor crisis poses fundamental questions about Australia’s future in the region. “Not since the war in the Pacific has Australia seemed quite so alone. In the space of just a few days, the sands have shifted dramatically beneath our feet, with the overage in East Timor – and the feeble international response – calling into question many of the assumptions about how we see ourselves, and our future role in the region.” After years of miscalculation and wishful thinking by diplomats and political leaders it is time for a reality check. “After investing the best part of 30 years in the diplomatic effort to cultivate a relationship of mutual respect with the power elites in Jakarta, Australians must now confront the stark unadorned truth: unless there is a systematic change governing Indonesia’s political processes, there can be no genuine comity between the two nations.” Our attempt to engage constructively with Indonesia has been a strategy punctuated by disappointment and failure. “However, the ramifications do not stop there. The bloodbath in East Timor has also exposed the frailty of Australia’s other links within the region.” Australia is expected by the global community to arouse a leadership role in working through this humanitarian crisis. “Given the barbaric repression of a largely defenceless people, Australia might well be expecting the moral support of the other nations of South-East Asia, and indeed Japan. This support has not been forthcoming. Within the Association of South-East Asian Nations, internal cohesion and other strategic concerns appear to have taken priority over the fate of the East Timorese. As for Japan, it is maintaining the habit of a generation, by refusing to allow human rights concerns to cut across its trade and investment interests.” This leaves Australia highly exposed. The United States is unwilling to assume its usual centre- stage role, and whether a more forthright stance by Washington would help or hinder negotiations with Jakarta is a moot point. The US has put the onus squarely on its ANZUS allies to tidy up their own backyard. “Although this risks setting us apart from our neighbours, it is not an obligation Australia can shirk, and yet the repercussions could be profound. Clearly, our strategic circumstances are not as benign as they might have seemed. We have no choice but to adapt.”

The Australian (Paul Kelly, “SHATTERED MYTHS”, 09/11/99) reported that this week Australia faced the contradiction between wanting to rescue the East Timorese from slaughter and our military and political inability to save them. “Australia faced a disastrous scenario – a scorched earth East Timor; a fracture with Indonesia; a need to reappraise the US alliance; and still no solution to the political and humanitarian crisis just off Darwin.” In the East Timor debacle the myths of the Left and the Right have been exposed. “A nation that suffers from multiple delusions will eventually fall victim to them, and this has happened to Australia.” Myth one is that Australia could save East Timor from the Indonesian military. It could not in 1975, and it could not in 1999. “If Australia wants to be a significant regional player, then its need to possess more military force in its own right. That means revising the notion of strategic interest as the guiding star of the public debate about foreign policy.” Myth two is that the rest of the world has been agitating to liberate East Timor. “Most nations are reluctant to help when a real sacrifice is needed. Take the Americans. Their attitude this week is a watershed for Australia. It will shatter another set of delusions.” The US message is manifest: Australia can look after this part of the world. “The Australian – US alliance has reached a crossroads. It will only work in the future if Australia grasps that it must assume more responsibility in this region.” Within Asia, East Timor has scarcely been an issue. Myth three was that Australia could establish strategic solidarity with Indonesia by pioneering a close military-to-military relationship. But in this crisis the military relationship has been useless for Australia and it is a national embarrassment. Australian forces have trained some of the Indonesians who planned and conducted this week’s operation. Myth four is that Australia exerts a decisive influence over Indonesian behaviour. Australia has no such leverage – indeed it is highly debatable whether the international community has much leverage. Myth five is that Australia has a special obligation to solve the East Timor problem. “The national guilt runs deep. Australian opinion has decided that East Timor is its problem.” Howard and Downer, in supporting the timing of the independence ballot, gambled the entire Australian-Indonesian relationship on Timor. “They gambled that Indonesia could simultaneously make its own traumatic transition and handle the loss of East Timor – and it appears they lost.”

The Australian (Don Greenless, “DEMOCRACY MARRED BY MAYHEM, 09/13/99) reported that Indonesia will pay a high price and achieve little for the militia- and military-instigated anarchy in East Timor. It will not stop East Timor becoming independent, but it will leave an enduring scar on Indonesia’s international reputation. Democracy in Indonesia will be shaken because it has been successfully challenged by a small but powerful group who have put self- interest ahead of the interests of the nation. Sadly, the mood in Indonesia “has become infected with a nationalism that is obscuring the reality of events in East Timor and the better instincts of many Indonesians themselves.” The emergence of a nationalist backlash made it difficult for the Government to agree to foreign peace-keepers. Belatedly, Jakarta realised it had no choice. “But the decision to send in peace-keepers is being done grudgingly. Official Indonesia will be inclined to be surly and antagonistic to outsiders.” Hopefully, Habibie’s announcement will take some of the steam out of the antagonism towards the international community. “Even so, it is important the international community make strenuous efforts to overcome the hostility. To much work has gone into encouraging Indonesian openness to allow relations with Jakarta to descend into paybacks and acrimony. The issue of future relations is particularly acute for Australia. No other country has generated so much ire. The reason is simple: Canberra is regarded as having betrayed a good friend. Where the bonds were strongest and loyalty most highly prized, within the Indonesian military, the sense of desertion is most profound.” A long and painstaking effort will be required to overcome the legacy of distrust in relations with Jakarta – something that is in the national interest and, ultimately, in the interests of East Timor.

IV. Announcement

1. Luncheon Discussion on US-Korea Relations

Educational Programs about Korea in Transition is sponsoring a luncheon discussion on recent developments in Korea. (This program will be on the record.) The discussion will be held on Thursday, 30 September 1999, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at The Atlantic Council, 11th Floor Conference Room, 910 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC. The title of the program is “Trust, Leadership, and Confidence in U.S.-Korea Relations 1979-1999,” an address by Dean Robert Gallucci, Georgetown University School of Foreign Studies. Gallucci’s presentation will be followed by a historical and contemporary commentary by Ambassador William Gleysteen, Former Ambassador to ROK, and Don Oberdorfer of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Please RSVP by Tuesday, 28 September 1999 to: PROGLOBAL, INC., Stephen Costello, President, 910 17th Street, NW, Suite 1107, Washington, DC, 20006. Tel: 202-293-6133; fax 202-293-6146; email: scostello@proglobalinc.com. This program is administered under a grant from the Korea Foundation.

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Kim Hee-sun: khs688@hotmail.com
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu: akutsu@glocomnet.or.jp
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin: icipu@glas.apc.org
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu: dlshen@fudan.ac.cn
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Dingli Shen: dlshen@fudan.ac.cn
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

 


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