Ambling towards disaster: Bush�s North Korea policy
By Mike Whitney
Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 10, 2006, 00:15
�We have reaffirmed our commitment to a nuclear-free
Korean Peninsula. . . . The actions taken by North Korea are unacceptable and
deserve an immediate response by the UN Security Council.� --President George
Bush; following the detonation of North Korea�s first nuclear weapon
It took six years of relentless threats, sanctions and
belligerence, but Bush finally succeeded in pushing Kim Jong-Il to build North
Korea�s first nuclear bomb. Now, Kim can just add a few finishing touches to
his ballistic-missile delivery system, the Taepo-dong ICBM, and he�ll be able
to wipe out nine western states with a flip of the switch.
In a matter of hours, the world has become a much more
dangerous place, a fact that will have no effect on the blinkered ideologues at
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. They�ve probably already moved on to the next phase of
their plan to expand the Middle East catastrophe: Armageddon in Iran.
The crisis with North Korea was entirely avoidable for
anyone with even minimal diplomatic skills and an elementary understanding of
human psychology. Instead, the Bush troupe persisted for six years with the
same inflexible policy nudging Kim ever closer to producing his first nuclear
weapon. Now, half the population of the United States is in the gunsight
of a madcap tyrant whose basic grasp of reality has always been seriously in
At the same time, the White House has resumed issuing
statements via its sardonic press secretary, Tony Snow, that Bush �is closely
monitoring the situation and reaffirms his commitment to defend our allies in
�Monitoring the situation�? Bush has done everything in his
power to facilitate the North Korean despot�s quest for WMD except hand-deliver
atom bombs to the front porch of his imperial palace.
Bush has put everyone in the region at greater risk and,
without a doubt, triggered a nuclear-arms race in Japan, China and South Korea.
It is the death-knell for non-proliferation and the threadbare NPT.
The Bush administration has known what Kim wants for six
years and has had ample opportunity to find a peaceful resolution to the
standoff. North Korea�s demands go back to the original 1994 �Framework
Agreement� in which Bill Clinton promised to provide food, fuel and two light
water reactors in exchange for North Korea�s abandoning its nuclear weapons
programs. The North agreed to these terms, but the United States has never
honored its obligations.
When Bush took office, the agreement was jettisoned
altogether and Bush pushed for sanctions. He placed North Korea on the �Axis of
Evil� list, threatened regime change, and publicly announced that he �loathed�
Kim Jung Il. All of this fueled the confrontation and thrust the wary Kim
towards developing a viable nuclear deterrent to US aggression. Kim had no
intention of being the next victim of Bush�s preemptive policy.
Bush�s dim-witted bravado and saber-rattling has only made
negotiations more difficult and aggravated an already tense situation. Even
when it was announced that Kim would be testing a nuclear device sometime
during this past weekend, the headstrong Bush still refused to enter �11th
hour� negotiations. Instead, his Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill
issued yet another ominous-sounding threat that �North Korea can either have a
future or they can have those weapons. They can�t have both.�
Kim, of course, brushed off the warning and detonated the
American Intelligence agencies now believe that North Korea
has enough fissile material for between two to eight nuclear warheads and they
are speeding ahead with the development of the requisite delivery systems.
What will Bush do now?
Will he bomb the North and potentially open another front on
the Korean Peninsula for our already overextended military? Or will he simply
continue with the fiery rhetoric and the chest-thumping bluster?
His track record is far from reassuring.
The Bush team will probably follow their familiar pattern of
ignoring the dilemma while creating a public relations smokescreen to conceal
Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice will undoubtedly make their
appearances on the morning talk shows, claiming that �we are all much safer�
under the enlightened leadership of George Bush. Perhaps, they could
synchronize their silly assertions to coincide with the explosion of Korea�s
next nuclear weapon.
How could Bush let the situation get so out of hand? After
all, the central tenet of the war on terror is: �We will not let the
world�s most dangerous weapons fall into the hands of the world�s worst
dictators�? Instead, they have elevated an unstable megalomaniac into a
nuclear-armed menace. It could turn out to be the greatest foreign policy
meltdown in American history.
Bush needs to forgo the Texas bravado and make substantive
changes to the present policy before North Korea becomes the world�s largest
WMD production factory.
First, he should agree to two-party talks with
representatives from the North, which is what North Korea has
demanded from the very beginning.
Second, he should review all sanctions directed against
North Korea and publicly state that he will reassess whether they are truly
Third, (and most important) Bush should offer firm
assurances in the form of a treaty that North Korea WILL NOT BE ATTACKED BY THE
UNITED STATES IF IT ABANDONS ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMS. This has been the
North�s primary demand from the very onset of the crisis (although it has been
omitted from newspaper coverage to conceal the fact that the rest of the world
is actually terrified of America�s erratic behavior).
Fourth, the administration should reconsider providing the
oil, food, and light water reactors which were part of the original �Framework
Agreement� as long as North Korea agrees to undergo intensive �go anywhere, see
anything� inspections conducted by the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.
A larger tragedy can still be averted if cooler heads
prevail. The time for bluster is past. The present policy is a dead loss which
has put everyone in greater peril.
The North is currently working out the kinks in its
Taepo-dong ICBM. If we are serious that �We don�t want the smoking gun to be a
mushroom cloud,� as Condi Rice opined, the administration must take positive
steps to defuse the present crisis; it's time to change directions, amend the
policy, and negotiate a peaceful settlement. The alternatives are too horrific
to even consider.
Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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