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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


April 23, 2003

Pentagon: US-China alliance for N. Korea overthrow?

'Administration Divided Over North Korea' (4/21/03 - New York Times)

A report in the NY Times on April 21, under the rather obtuse headline "Administration Divided Over North Korea," says that Rumsfeld has been circulating a classified Pentagon memo proposing that "the United States...should team up with China to press for the ouster of North Korea's leadership."

"Vice" President Cheney is among the "high-level officials" who have seen the memo. Subtle phrasing in the NY Times report indicates that State Dept. officials may have also seen it (and they seem the likely source for the leak). Democracy Now reported that selected members of Congress -- Republicans, no doubt -- have also seen it.

The memo was first circulated "just days" before Bush approved negotiations with North Korea viz. its nuclear program. Those talks, with China serving an intermediary role, are scheduled for this week. Thus this leak may be a strategic one intended to apply some (not-so) subtle pressure on Kim Jong Il.

The NY Times says the memo was prepared by "[h]ard-liners in the Pentagon" who are "deeply opposed to opening talks that could eventually end up benefiting North Korea economically." (This smacks of the Wolfowitz/PNAC crowd.) The Pentagon memo's main argument is "that Washington's goal should be the collapse of Kim Jong Il's government."

Officially, the US policy toward N. Korea remains diplomatic and not (overt) military pressure. But this sounds awfully reminiscent of the "we have not made a decision to invade Iraq" nonsense that was spouted for months even as most of the US military was being shuttled across the globe to do precisely that.

Although such an alliance seems pretty fantastical, it should be noted that the US and China have been increasingly cooperative on counter-terrorism, at least, since 9-11. This included Chinese action against Taliban/Afghan forces operating inside western China concurrent with US military and covert action in Afghanistan.

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