Monday, October 09, 2006

The Failure to Keep North Korea from Building an Atomic Bomb

Six years into Bush's tenure as commander-in-chief, North Korea has exploded a nuclear bomb. Not deterred by their failure to keep this Communist dictatorship from building the bomb, the Washington Post reports that administrative hardliners think this scary development presents an opportunity to really get tough:
Yet a number of senior U.S. officials have said privately that they would welcome a North Korean test, regarding it as a clarifying event that would forever end the debate within the Bush administration about whether to solve the problem through diplomacy or through tough actions designed to destabilize North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's grip on power.
What boggles the mind is that we had North Korea more or less under control when Bush took office in 2001:
When Bush became president in 2000, Pyongyang's reactor was frozen under a 1994 agreement with the United States. Clinton administration officials thought they were so close to a deal limiting North Korean missiles that in the days before he left office, Bill Clinton seriously considered making the first visit to Pyongyang by a U.S. president.
But conservatives had long been deeply skeptical of the deal freezing North Korea's program -- known as the Agreed Framework -- in part because it called for building two light-water nuclear reactors (largely funded by the Japanese and South Koreans). When then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell publicly said in early 2001 that he favored continuing Clinton's approach, Bush rebuked him.
Steve Clemons at The Washington Note asks the question of the hour:
How can America and its allies so badly fail to secure their political and security objectives -- which used to be, in part, to prevent North Korea from acquiring nukes and conducting tests?
Clemons returns to the story of how in 2003 John Bolton, then undersecretary of state, delivered a needlessly provocative speech on North Korea that he failed to clear with with his colleagues and superiors in the State Department:
[Aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell] Wilkerson reports that the July 31 Seoul speech that caused so much uproar and threatened the fragile beginning of the Six Party Talks with North Korea was NOT cleared by Armitage and Powell.
The speech was not cleared by Ambassador Hubbard, and it was not cleared by chief North Korea negotiations envoy, Ambassador Charles "Jack" Pritchard. The speech was not signed off by other of the INR staff involved, and it was not signed off at the Deputy Assistant Secretary Level (TWN has confirmed).
This is the kind of freelancing behavior, destructive to the conduct of diplomacy, that gets rewarded in the Bush/Cheney administration. Never mind the results -- talk tough and you gain the reputation as a hard-headed realist. But are the neocons chastened by this collosal failure? Sadly, no.


Blogger Catbird said...

Although "rogue nations" aren't tolerated by this administration, rogue neocons apparently are.

I can't help but wonder if this is an (if not the) October surprise...

6:07 PM, October 09, 2006  

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