Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
The main problem with Dubya in Korea seems to be that this administration viewed Korean policy as it views almost everything else, as a matter of spin and domestic politics. So the initial policy of taking a tough line made good sense - it was good politics to make a contrast between Clinton's negotiations and compromises and the no-nonsense Bush stance. Adding North Korea to the 'Axis of Evil' was a demonstration to both dometic and foreign audiences that the War on Terror wasn't a religious crusade. When the crisis blew up, the policy was to blame North Korea's nuclear ambitions on Bill Clinton. That worked as well, in the sense that it was eagerly swallowed by the media. The only problem is that, beyond the blame Clinton domestic spin, there's no plan in place for dealing with those aspects of foreign policy that are actually foreign. It seems to be a revelation for the Bushies, and a shocking one, that policies intended for US domestic politics may actually carry international consequences. Given the inability of the US to use force against North Korea without unaceptable civilian casualties in South Korea, the whole policy is exposed as empty rhetoric.
Bush's policies have had at least one consequence beyond escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The declared new willingness to pre-emptively intervene in nations that pose a potential threat to our interests, along with the contrast between our rush to appease Kim Jong Il after every new provocation and continuing threats against Saddam Hussein, who has allowed inspectors to enter Iraq with a sweeping mandate, not to mention permitted the establishment of a de facto American protectorate covering about 1/3 of Iraq, gives a message that no leader of a small country can miss. That message is to obtain biological, chemical, and especially nuclear weapons as quickly as possible at any cost. Only when you have a credible threat to impose non-conventional war on a significant US ally will you be taken seriously. Those countries unable to develop their own nuclear weapons will probably be able to buy them from North Korea. The Koreans are in no position presently to sell weapons, even assuming they exist, since there are only one or two and they can't afford a weakened deterrent. With plutonium in production, they can easily get their arsenal up to 15 - 20 bombs, which gives leeway to trade some to nations like Syria, Libya, and Egypt, either for cash of for chemical/biological weapons.