Friday, September 23, 2005

Empty Promises Based on Empty Threats

RealClearPolitics links to this National Review article by James Robbins on the North Korea deal which is excellent, and which is similar to my tongue in cheek reaction to that "deal", here.

I was among those critical of Clinton's diplomats throughout the 90s, as I felt that they got us absolutely nowhere. History has validated our pessimism. When Kim was caught making bombs. But don't be so quick to assume that Bush's diplomats are significantly better when they laud a deal like the one currently being celebrated as a solution to the potential crisis on the Korean peninsula.

The first thing to bear in mind is that it's not a deal when the parties just can't agree as to what the agreement is. One cannot claim progress until both sides agree on the things that will be done. And it is silliness like this which further erodes any remaining confidence one might have in the diplomats.

The diplomatic corps of a major benevolent superpower is one which requires its members to have much education, intelligence and sophistication, a silver tongue, and almost no wisdom or wontons. And calling it a "deal" when a rogue nation has agreed to receive goodies from the West in exchange for for its not making weapons of mass destruction (or at least not doing it so as the other parties to the "deal" can see it) to use against free neighbors seems misplaced, when the word "blackmail" has always been a perfectly good description for such transactions. A deal is not a deal unless all sides get a real benefit. And this is about as one-sided as you get.

The one of the best things Ronald Reagan ever did was to walk away from an agreement with the Soviets in Iceland. I don't know if the folks at the State Department would have had the guts to turn down an agreement, regardless of what it was. And interestingly, the failure of that deal meant the subsequent failure of the Soviet Union. They tried to get us to stop a missile defense system. It very correctly occured to Reagan that it was an odd request for the Soviets to ask for the elimination of a purely defensive weapon system. He refused, and the Soviets spent themselves into oblivion trying to keep up with a project that by the technology of that day, was nearly impossible.

But unlike the Soviets, North Korea has nothing to lose. It is not a superpower, but rather is surrounded by them. And while China made this monster, and perhaps from time to time considers it a useful distraction for the U.S. while it does its own thing, Kim Jong Il is a positively paranoid nut who will do absolutely anything to remain in power--including tossing a nuclear device south of the DMZ or across the Sea of Japan if he thinks it works to his advantage to so.

So tell me again the value of negotiating with him?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The value of repeating the Clintonian approach is to shut up the carping left (how can they criticize a repeat performance of St Bill?), and so to focus on what's really up in the world. Let Japan and South Korea deal with the NoKos. To do otherwise would be equivalent to turning to Japan for help if Cuba pulled the same stuff Kim is. Bush has bigger fish to fry, Kim isn't going anywhere. BTW have you noticed how stressed out the Pres looks these days? Not like him.

1:42 PM  

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