In his recently published memorir, former SecDef Bob Gates paints an unflattering picture of late Korea President Roh Moo-hyun:
Gates recalls a November 2007 meeting in Seoul with the liberal-minded president, whose diplomatic and security policy is still being debated.
He calls Roh “anti-American and probably a little crazy.” Roh was quoted as telling Gates that “the biggest security threats in Asia were the United States and Japan.”
I must confess it’s nice to see Roh was telling both the Americans and North Koreans the same thing. Important to stay on message, you know.
Unsurprisingly, Gates liked working with Lee Myung-bak, more.
You’ll recall Roh’s attitudes led him to get pwned by Gate’s predecessor.
Anyway, perhaps more interesting was Gates’s claim that President Lee and Company really wanted to lay the smack down on North Korea following the 2011 shelling of Yeonpyeong-do, but the United States leaned on Seoul to limit its retaliation:
“South Korea’s original plans for retaliation were, we thought, disproportionately aggressive, involving both aircraft and artillery,” Gates wrote in his memoir.
“We were worried the exchanges could escalate dangerously,” he added.
Over the next few days, Gates said he, US President Barack Obama and then secretary of state Hillary Clinton had numerous telephone calls with their South Korean counterparts in an effort to calm things down.
“Ultimately, South Korea simply returned artillery fire on the location of the North Koreans’ batteries that had started the whole affair,” he said.
The Korean government is declining to comment on this, but they probably don’t need to. After all, this isn’t the first time a former US official has made such a claim.