Tuesday, September 20, 2005

North Korea

Kevin Drum answers my query from yesterday:
the Bush administration pretty much agreed to the same thing Clinton agreed to in 1994



the North Koreans got nothing out of this deal except for every single thing they've ever asked for.

Overall, I'm with Winston Churchill: "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war." Bush made the right decision to show some flexibility here, regardless of whether this agreement ultimately goes anywhere. But make no mistake: there was no ultimatum on our side. Quite the contrary.
The question is not how the starboard blogosphere will see this, but how Congressional Republicans will see this. The major failure of the Agreed Framework was that we never held up our side of the bargain. We promised a light water reactor and food aid and an oil supply until the reactor was built.

To uphold those promises, Congress needed to allocate funds. And they didn't. So Congress basically reneged on the deal without all the formality. Then North Korea started building a bomb. Then Bush trashed the whole deal (asserting that he wouldn't go around paying extortion or bribes or whatever), North Korea kicked out the inspectors who had kept the plutonium safe, withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and started building bombs.

Now we have the same deal, but it's good because we aren't bribing North Korea. Indeed, history suggests that the President cannot deal on North Korean nukes with any credibility, since previous agreements were undermined by the legislature. Will Congress now demonstrate that it exposed this country to a nuclear enemy because of petty political animus to Clinton, or will it repeat the mistakes it made in the 1990s?

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