Friday, May 18, 2007

The Bush administration has left the building (in Asia, anyway)

South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo reports that the Asia team for the denouement of the Bush administration is complete...

Daniel Drezner could not have been more right when he said that the Bush administration is looking for "September call-ups" for its foreign policy team.

Look at the roster provided by Dong-A. While some, including Dr. Paul Heer and James Shinn, have publication records, suggesting that they have experience in and knowledge about the region, others show just how hard the administration had to work to find staff to fill positions.

Victor Cha's successor holding the Korea and Japan brief at the National Security Council is Katrin Fraser, indicated by Dong-A as a "professional diplomat" but in fact assistant to Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristin Silverberg (who is herself a former political adviser to Candidate Bush, not to mention an adviser to CPA viceroy Paul Bremer until October 2003). The only newsworthy bits about Fraser seem to be that she taught English in Korea as a Fulbright a few years ago, and that she wrote an article criticizing the Bush administration for insensitivity to Korea.

From Victor Cha, an accomplished expert on the region to a woman who only very recently taught English in Korea? I am sure that the Japanese government is thrilled with this choice.

Yep, this is the Asia policy team that will handle the continuation of the six-party talks, turbulent relations with China as the 2008 Olympics approach, and a Japan that is grappling with fundamental questions about its position in the region and the world. For nearly the next two years, this is the team that will handle Asia's becoming the global center of gravity.


Anonymous said...

Do not underestimate the new Asia team, grasshopper.

Dr. Shinn is a billionaire from building his own company. And, never ever underestimate an accomplished young woman. Or are you learning that lesson?

Vivian Bullwinkel

Japan Observer said...

My problem is not with the individuals who the administration has found to fill these positions — it's with the administration itself, which has utterly mismanaged the conduct of foreign relations and now finds itself struggling to fill positions with a little under two years left.

I wish them the best of luck: they'll need it.