US President George W. Bush had an interview last week with Asian journalists, including the editor-in-chief of the Bangkok Post, Pichai Chuensuksawadi. The Post story is here and here is the most readable transcript.
I have been waiting four days for someone to write the only international news that Mr Bush revealed, but I guess no one will. So here it is:
THE PRESIDENT: … multilateral diplomacy is the best way to peacefully solve an issue such as the nuclearization or the weaponization or the desire to have a nuclear weapon program by the North Koreans.
Now, I sort of let this slide for the moment. Mr Bush has a reputation for misstating things, mostly an earned rep. But then I read a second interview he gave for his Asian trip, with China Central Television and he not only did it again, but made it stronger:
THE PRESIDENT: … If North Korea were to end up with a nuclear weapon, it would be very destabilizing and very troubling for all of us.
The desire to have? If North Korea has a nuclear weapon?
The big story here is that Mr Bush is either glossing over or rewriting history. North Korea says it has nuclear weapons. The US State Department confirms North Korea brags of a “nuclear deterrent force”. In October, 2006, North Korea claimed
it had conducted an underground test of a nuclear bomb and Russia confirmed it was “one hundred per cent certain” it was true.
What the heck is going on at the White House. Mr Bush says he is going to sprint to the January, 2009, finish line, but how can he act when he even denies reality? There is no “if” about North Korea.
Maybe he is concatenating the evil-axis problem, and transferring his opinion of Iran to the actions on North Korea. But that seems unlikely. He was speaking to Asia journalists about Asian problems, and in context all his comments about North Korea were about, well, North Korea.
Mr Bush, the North Koreans have nuclear weapons. They have the means to build more. And here is the really important, super-vital point you should be taking to Asia and especially to Bangkok: The North Koreans are getting in cahoots with the Burmese.
This should be an easy topic for the US president to raise on Wednesday and Thursday with Thai leaders. He is planning, after all, to emphasise his concern over the military dictatorship in Burma (his wife is going to Burma refugee camps in Thailand) and the uniting of world rogues, as the Bangkok Post editorial of last April 21 put it, is ugly to consider.
There is evidence, and I want to stress that word evidence, that North Korea is approaching fellow rogue-state Burma to build a nuclear plant capable of producing bomb material including plutonium.
There is no if about it, Mr Bush. You cannot wish or change history about this: North Korea has the bomb and its has the capability and probably the will to help others get it. At least admit that, and work with others including Thailand to stop the North Korean plan for Burma. Because IF Burma gets involved in this nuclear weapons problem, it will be very bad news for Thailand and the entire Southeast Asian region.