At this hour, it looks like free trade talks with South Korea are about to fail, despite their extension for another 48 hours. It may be a bit early for the Chosun Ilbo to have published this post-mortem, but any free-trade agreement we reach now will be unworthy of the name and hardly worth doing from an American perspective. Yes, I still believe an US-Korean FTA is a good idea, but it’s pretty hard to write a good one when the only Korean politicians who are talking about it, such as the gutter Ameriphobe Kim Geun-Tae, are holding their breath until their faces turn blue. After Roh Moo Hyun failed to sell the FTA for a year, it’s time for America to show its own ambivalence. In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, Nancy Pelosi called Korea’s trade policies an “iron curtain.” Safe to say, without fast-track authority, this thing will not fly.
Perhaps after the FTA fails, Korean politicians who haven’t spoken a supportive word on its behalf will use it as a club to hit Roh with and blame him for trashing US-Korea relations. Fair enough, at least substantively. At this point, the best we can expect is that this starts a debate on how South Korea shot itself in the foot, again.