The Asia Times (China)
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak gets along really well with President Obama—maybe too well, said Sunny Lee. At a state visit in Washington last month, Obama “made sure Lee certainly felt special,” showering him with perks denied to most dignitaries. Lee got a formal state dinner, an intimate private dinner, a richly applauded address to a joint session of Congress, and an unprecedented personal briefing by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then there were the policy perks: passage of a long-awaited free-trade agreement and support for Lee’s hard-line stance on North Korea. The New York Times called the relationship “a presidential man-crush,” while a Heritage Foundation analyst called it “a bromance.”
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But is this really an equal partnership? South Korean analysts note that even as Obama praised Lee, he was also subtly pressuring Lee to import more American products, particularly cars and beef. And Obama already got Lee to agree to the largest weapons purchase in Korean history, a nearly $400 billion package that “is likely to help the U.S military industry stay afloat amid U.S. defense budget cuts.” That’s a pretty hefty price to pay just to be wined and dined.
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