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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Real Korean Aberration

Instead of "madman," how about "ruthless dictator with a relentless determination to achieve his clear strategic aims"? The phrase doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but still: What benefit is to be derived by continuously framing North Korea's leader as a mental health aberration? The aberration is believing meaningful bargains can be reached with the likes of Kim Jong-il through dialogue that leads to signatures on pieces of paper. This was Bill Clinton's approach to the problematic person of Korea's great North. Clinton did what liberals love to do: reach agreements based on supposed common ground. "We all inhabit this global village together, there's enough tofu and bean sprouts for everyone," is the popular version in my northern California neighborhood, where you will meet people who actually believe the Soviet Union collapsed not because Ronald Reagan's buildup of American military might forced the USSR into an unsustainable race to keep up, oh no. The Soviet Union imploded because corps of "citizen diplomats" from America paid visits to Moscow and engaged in dialogues (Kum ba yah, my Lord, Kum ba yah, Kum ba yah, my Lord, Kum ba yah Kum ba yah, my Lord, Kum ba yah Oh Lord, Kum ba yah...) that enabled ordinary citizens from both countries to identify common human ground. As a result, the communist dictators and their military officers just decided to throw in the towel. (You didn't get the memo on this at the time? Be sure to update your address or you'll miss out on other important developments in the galaxy of delusional thought. Now, let's return to Earth.) Dealing directly with the North, team Clinton produced the Agreed Framework, a fraud that the North Koreans began cheating on, in the words of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, “as the ink was drying.” Madeleine Albright, who negotiated the agreement, later offered this strangely candid assessment of her diligence-driven naivete: "What they [Kim and company] were doing, as it turns out, they were cheating." Albright made clear that she was surprised by Kim's duplicity, much as a famously naive one-term president named Jimmy Carter in 1980 appeared stunned that the Soviet Union would commit such an act as the invasion of Afghanistan, declaring that his perception of the character of the USSR had dramatically changed. This being the same Jimmy Carter who had said his fellow countrymen had an irrational fear of communism; who stopped B-1 bomber production; who lifted U.S. citizens’ travel bans to Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia; who pardoned draft evaders; who believed the Ayatollah Khomeini, a Muslim exile in Paris, would make a fairer Iranian leader than the Shah because Khomeini was a religious man. The same Jimmy Carter who today travels the globe lecturing foreign audiences condemning the policies of the incumbent president of the United States. Anyhow, Kim agreed to freeze North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for two light-water nuclear reactors and fuel deliveries. Immediately, however, he set up a secret uranium-enrichment program and obstructed inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency. When the U.S. blew the whistle in 2002, the North confessed, evicted IAEA inspectors, retreated from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and escalated its nuclear quest. Here's David Zucker's video overview. Thinking of all of this as a great success, the perennial-dialogue crowd now wants to keep going down the same road to Yammerville. "At least they were talking," says John Kerry, adding that team Clinton "knew full well they didn't have a perfect agreement." Agreed. Trusting Kim to keep his word turned out to be less than "perfect," except perhaps in a world where liberal good intentions (and continuous liberal self congratulation about same) is all that counts. Here's the best part. Kim wouldn't have the bomb today, or be close to getting it, if Bush had simply held bilateral talks with the North. Bush's mistake was his insistence on taking a six-party approach. In short, Bush behaved like a (get ready) internationalist, and the left faults him for it. This being the same left that faulted Bush for supposedly not acting like an internationalist toward Iraq. What's a poor cowboy from Crawford to do, with mixed signals like these?