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After Claiming Clinton A Failure On North Korea, Why Is Bush Deal Being Lauded As A Success?

July 1st, 2008 | by Ken Grandlund |

Neo-conservatives and the Bush Administration like to paint the 1994 Agreed Framework deal on North Korea’s nuclear program as a failure of Bill Clinton’s foreign policy efforts. They point out that North Korea continued to manufacture plutonium after agreeing not to, and that their breach of the agreement amounts to Bill Clinton having let the North Koreans become a nuclear power. According to Team Bush and his neophytes, the entire North Korean nuclear program is Bill Clinton’s fault.

Bush, ever the tough guy, took little time in labeling North Korea as a terrorist state, blacklisting them from international trade and aid and further isolating the reclusive regime-all in an effort to force the hand of Kim Jong-Il to give up his nukes. Yet instead of capitulating after admitting they had been ignoring the 1994 agreement, North Korea put their nuclear program on the fast track and out in the open, and finalized the process by detonating a nuclear device during the reign of George W. Bush. Arguably, while Clinton may have had the wool pulled over his eyes to North Korea’s true intent regarding its nuclear program, Bush watched whit eyes wide open as they advanced from a nuclear wannabe to a nuclear power. Indeed, it is perhaps the openly belligerent attitude of Bush that may have increased the North Korean nuclear timeline.

Yet now that North Korea has returned to the table to continue talks about their program, Bush has done a complete 180 degree turnabout, removed them from a US list of terrorist states, and approved aid to that country. And what has North Korea done to deserve this reward? Turns out that they haven’t done much at all. They’ve released details on some of their nuclear activities and programs and they blew up a building. And this after stalling for years. But the evidence that they intend to stop their nuclear program is no stronger now than it was after the 1994 agreement was signed, and yet Team Bush acts like its solved a major crisis in Asia.

The Clinton agreement was based on trust, and it turned out that trusting the regime in North Korea was not a wise choice. Without verification, that trust was misplaced and North Korea continued to work on their nuclear program while accepting the gifts that came with the agreement to stop those actions. The Bush doctrine in North Korea has been to end all US aid and brand the nation a rogue terror state. Remember that under Clinton, North Korea was still a fledgling nuclear hopeful working at a slow pace. Under Bush, their nuclear efforts were expanded and accelerated and they finally got a working nuclear bomb. Under Bush, North Korea got the power they wanted. And under Bush, they have used this power to get what they wanted-US aid, removal from the list of terrorist states. In return, they have provided relatively little and we have no evidence they have stopped anything.

Bush may claim that his “tough guy” approach actually got North Korea to come back to the table for talks. I dismiss this. Bush’s “tough guy” mentality just gave North Korea the push to finish their bomb project. Now that they have a nuclear weapon, they hold more cards than ever before, and Bush, trying to eke some success out of his mangled tenure somewhere, is ready to call it a day and claim Mission Accomplished.  But when it comes to North Korea, or any reclusive regime, what we know and what we think we know are always going to be very different things. And what they say and what they do will be too.

Clinton’s path of engagement didn’t stop the North Korean nuclear program, but it slowed it up while trying to open the country through humanitarian assistance. Bush’s path of belligerence brought to the world an uptick in North Korean nuclear program development and a nuclear armed North Korea, and now he is giving them humanitarian aid too. Pretending that his agreement is more valid, more enforceable, and more effective than the 1994 agreement is laughable at best.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

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  1. 3 Responses to “After Claiming Clinton A Failure On North Korea, Why Is Bush Deal Being Lauded As A Success?”

  2. By Jet Netwal on Jul 1, 2008 | Reply

    Sigh. Classic IOKIYAAR.

  3. By Jet Netwal on Jul 1, 2008 | Reply

    It’s OK if you are a Republican… :-D

  4. By rube cretin on Jul 1, 2008 | Reply

    Ken,

    Bush is trying everything to salvage his legacy. Heard on NPR, (I think), the other day that history books are are already being printed and distributed in some school districts blaming Sadam for 911. If you can write the history to suit your agenda, your legacy is protected. This is just another example. Can’t wait to read how they portray this.

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