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April 29, 2005

David Sanger Sheds Light on North Korea

Fran

      On Monday April 25, 2005, the Quality of Student Life Committee (QSLC) brought New York Times White House correspondent, David Sanger, to Boston College as part of their Be Current Program. He spoke primarily on President Bush's biggest foreign policy failure: North Korea. While striking a very objective tone, Sanger used a dry wit to convey his message of concern regarding North Korea's development of nuclear weapons. He detailed his travels there as a reporter and discussed the problems the United States faces in dealing with the rogue nation.

      Kim Jung Il, who according to sources stands 5'2" tall, drinks Hennessey cognac, and owns a collection of 20,000 movies, is a brutal dictator with nuclear weapons at his disposal. While there is no "Team America" to combat this menace, the threat must be taken seriously and dealt with before there is greater proliferation or possibility of nuclear materials being sold or displaced.

      The collapse of the Soviet Union and Pyongyang's Communist allies in eastern Europe, as well as natural disasters and bad harvests all contributed to the widespread famine that engulfed North Korea during the mid-1990s, that aid experts say killed more than one million people. It is important to note that North Korea also blames US economic sanctions.

      Soon after Bush came to office, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice disputed as the US withdrew from bilateral talks. In 2002, North Korea was found to have been developing a secret nuclear program, which they denied having. Subsequently, they kicked out weapons inspectors and pulled out of treaty while the Bush administration was focused on Iraq.

      The question remains: will North Korea give up their program or will they rely on the U.S. to "forget" that they ever had one? Sanger was realistic in his analysis that a diplomatic solution to this problem is difficult, considering the division within the administration between the hardliners and those more cautious.

      North Korea has broken nuclear agreements in the past and may break them again because in Kim's perspective, North Korea's nuclear program is their only security against an attack from the U.S. Although North Korea's economy is arguably their biggest problem, Kim's primary concern is his regime's survival. Sanger keenly noted that Bush's approach is not working, especially when you consider that an estimated six nuclear weapons have been developed since Clinton left office. Whether it was because Clinton's bilateral approach had failed over time, or because nothing has come out of Bush's disengagement and multilateral approach, remains to be seen.

      In the question and answer period, Sanger described his role of White House correspondent as critical to highlighting issues such as North Korea that are often left out of the headlines. He noted that in Washington, reporters and officials often know each other outside of the workplace and when reporters simply write to flatter officials they do not help their readers.

      Overall, this was an informative event put together by QSLC to further their mission of creating greater awareness of current events. Sanger keenly made his audience aware of the fact that North Korea must be dealt with to prevent the nightmare scenario of nuclear weapons being dispersed to other nations or terrorist groups. Adam Shipley, Budget Director for QSLC, proudly stated "as a committee we are happy to be able to bring global issues to BC students through newspapers and lectures such as these."

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