They Love Us ......... in Mongolia

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

They Love Us ......... in Mongolia

In today's New York Times, reporter David Sanger summarizes Bush's trip to Asia:
If Mongolia won its way into Mr. Bush's heart with its unflagging support for the war in Iraq, its attitude was the exception on his four-day trip. The war is deeply unpopular in Japan, his first stop, and his motorcade did not exactly attract huge crowds.

Things were worse in South Korea, where the defense minister announced, as a fact, that South Korea planned to trim its more than 3,000 troops in Iraq by a third next year. Mr. Bush's aides scrambled to win a retraction .... The number of South Korean troops, [U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen] Hadley told reporters, "will depend on the political evolution and the security evolution."

Apparently, that evolution happened quickly; on Monday, 48 hours after Mr. Bush left South Korean soil, the country's cabinet approved the reduction of forces next year.

Then came the Chinese, with their highly attuned sense of political leverage. It is impossible to say exactly what led President Hu Jintao to conclude that he would not pay a high price for making vague commitments on revaluing China's currency and for offering no commitments on improving human rights or increasing the pace of democratization.

Administration officials were clearly surprised that not only did China fail to release any dissidents on a list of human rights cases turned over to Mr. Hu in September, but it also detained more dissidents just before Mr. Bush's arrival.

Administration officials also seemed vexed that Mr. Bush's statements in China were largely unheard by most of the nation. So perhaps it was no surprise that aides traveling with Mr. Bush were striving to note some accomplishments.

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