[Update 1/2007: The complete hearing transcript is now online, including my verbal testimony, written statement, and photographic exhibits, at pages 59-94 (pdf). Other witnesses that day were Amb. Chris Hill, Undersecretary of Defense Richard Lawless, and Korea experts Balbina Hwang and Gordon Flake.]
Well, I can’t thank Rep. Henry Hyde’s staff enough for believing that a fire-eater with high-speed internet access qualifies as an expert competent to testify before a committee of Congress. You have to know that all is not well in the alliance when that can happen, although I really don’t know who’s pretending that all is well these days. My testimony mainly covered anti-Americanism, SOFA and criminal jurisdiction stuff, and those pictures that I will keep flogging until there’s no longer a reason to do so. I guess some bombs need to be thrown (here’s an extra reminder to read our disclaimer). Here’s my statement, which is part of the hearing record. I spent four days writing it, so I sure hope someone reads it.
My observations, below:
Rep. James Leach remarked that he’s never introduced a “webmaster,” not a title I’d meant to claim for a group blog where Richardson does all the hard technical work and I mostly observe with dumbfounded amazement. Really, it was an honor. I ended up on the same panel as two legit experts — L. Gordon Flake, who will be giving us an interview soon, and Balbina Hwang, who is still at Heritage until she becomes the primary assistant to Amb. Christopher Hill. Chuck Downs was also there, and I thanked him in person for talking with us. I ended up having a good talk with Rep. Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, who was kind of mean to two of the witnesses (he asked, I answered, and he feels bad about it) but grasps the nature of the North Korean threat — nukes on E-bay. The pictures I showed obviously had some impact on him; he called them “atrocities” and proceeded to ask Gordon Flake and Balbina Hwang why shouldn’t just pull all of our troops out. Richardson would have been proud of me later; I talked about the importance of preventing an arms race between South Korea and Japan. I think he sees the basis to keep air forces there, for now, at least.
Some random observations:
- One thing I learned: five minutes goes much faster than it does during a closing argument, and I’m sorry I went over time.
- I’ve already concluded that the FTA is dead, but it’s extra dead if the Democrats get control of the House. Either it passes before the new Congress is sworn in, or it won’t pass.
- Richard Lawless is still not happy with the Korean contribution to cost-sharing. I sensed a veiled threat to take more units out of USFK if they don’t up their contribution. He said that we’d cut the fat and the muscle, and that we’re cutting bone now.
- Lawless and Hill otherwise sounded pollyannish: The alliance? Why, couldn’t be better! Not everyone gets to be Lee Jong-Seok….
- Leach, Rep. Tom Lantos, and Rep. Gary Ackerman were very opposed to re-imposing sanctions on North Korea; Hill had a pretty good response to that: we only lifted them to reward North Korea for its missile moratorium. But the Administration loses momentum by waiting to impose them. It’s time to drop the other shoe.
- There are times when Lantos seems more conservative than Leach.
- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher shaves with a blowtorch. I can’t possibly imagine what it must be like to pick that guy’s daughter up for a date. His views on Kim Jong Il and the South Koreans are probably in line with mine, but I disagree with him on food aid. I yield to none in my desire to see Kim Jong Il swing from a lamppost, and starving people have a very bad track record for organizing and executing such things. I don’t want to punish starving people, but we have a fresh reminder of why we need to keep a watchful eye on where the aid goes. That requires multilateral pressure, and guess what? South Korea isn’t helping.
- Rep. Diane Watson made a good impression.
- This was Hyde’s final hearing as Chairman, and you could feel the love. He told Rep. Lantos what a fine Secretary of State he would make … once he changes parties.
- Richard Lawless stepped on my foot. Not really sure if that’s interesting to anyone, but hey ….