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Whenever George W. Bush is allowed to open his mouth on foreign policy, you can count on world-class caca.

bush, daschle

President George W. Bush with Democratic Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, March 9, 2001. Kevin Lamarque

Japan

Bush Bumbles Towards Japanese Summit

by Chuck 45

MARCH 12, 2001. Whenever George W. Bush is allowed to open his mouth on foreign policy, you can count on world-class caca.

Wednesday, only a day after Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the Bush team intended "to pick up where President Clinton and his administration left off" in negotiations with North Korea, President Bush told South Korean President Kim Dae Jung that the missile talks with the North would not be resumed any time soon, leaving Powell high and dry.

Powell also had to scoop poop mid-week, after Bush's point blank refusal to send an envoy to the March 8 Colombian peace talks in which 25 other countries were participating. He said peace is "an issue that the Colombian people and the Colombian president can deal with." Washington, which is providing a $1.3 billion mostly military aid package to Colombia, is apparently only interested in war.

yoshiro moriBush will meet his bumbling double on March 19, when he's due for a summit with Japan's Prime Minister and former rugby star, Yoshiro Mori, himself such an inept politician he's being chased from office by his own party.

The nail in Mori's coffin was the February 9 collision between the Japanese trawler Ehime Maru and the submarine USS Greeneville. After being notified of the nine deaths, which included students and teachers, Mori kept playing golf for another two hours without pause. His approval rating is at 10 percent and falling.

At the summit, despite his golfing gaffe and imminent departure, it will be Mori asking Bush to raise the Ehime Maru, investigate the collision, and compensate the victims' relatives. Bush, despite his crossed Korean wires, will be discussing policy vis-a-vis the Korean peninsula. Either bumbler could crash and burn, taking fragile Japanese relations with them.

The sinking of the Ehime Maru seems to be having a "last straw effect" on a Japanese public already impatient with the national economic and political turmoil, and frustrated by the ongoing presence of 48,000 U.S. troops on Japanese soil. Ritualistic U.S. apologies always qualified by an ardent defense of the Navy, are only making matters worse. From Tokyo, they look like parodies, a kind of made-in-America minstrel show intended to flatter and appease the Japanese natives.

They are particularly awkward given the recent history of the U.S. military in Japan. Just last month, a high-ranking US military official stationed in the Southern Japanese island of Okinawa had to apologize after an e-mail message became public in which he called local leaders "wimps." Last year, a U.S. marine stationed on Okinawa entered an unlocked house and molested a sleeping 14-year-old girl. In 1995, three U.S. marines raped a 12-year-old local schoolgirl.

Like in South Korea, Hawaii, and Vieques (Puerto Rico), pacifist and environmental groups are gaining steam in their drive to reduce the presence of U.S. troops and bases, or get rid of them altogether. Last week the governor of Okinawa said he would formally call for a cutback in the huge U.S. military base which covers 20 percent of the island.

Peace activist Hiromichi Umebayashi said last week that "although they have had to bear the presence of U.S. military bases at home because of government policy, the Japanese reject the military in general because of the horrors they experienced in World War II. Now they are fed up."

Will Prime Minister Mori and President Bush make inroads in understanding? Or will Laurel and Hardy show up and trade pies? I can't stand to watch.

Related Links

For Apologies do little to ease grief over sea tragedy.

For Two Sub Officers Had Concerns Before Crash.

For Queer Samurai/Gay Youth Japan.

For Complete Coverage Asia

For Complete Coverage U.S. Politics

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