(Image Courtesy of The Guardian UK, by Steve Bell)
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The current crisis with North Korea originated in Washington, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the papers.
The media’s role is to demonize the ever-expanding list of U.S. enemies who choose not to be "liberated" by the avatars of iron-fisted capitalism.
The root of the present crisis is Washington’s unwillingness to honor its prior agreements.
It has nothing to do with whether Kim Jung Il is a nutcase or not.
When America makes a deal with another country, there’s the expectation that they should follow through. It’s that simple.
In 1994 Bill Clinton committed to the "Framework Agreement"; a deal which promised to provide food, fuel and 2 light-water reactors in exchange for North Korea’s abandoning its nuclear weapons programs. The North agreed to these terms but the United States has never honored its obligations. These facts are unchallenged by anyone familiar with the history of U.S.-North Korea relations, but they are scrupulously withheld from coverage in the media.
Since Bush took office, relations with North Korea have steadily deteriorated. High-ranking administration officials have offered nothing more constructive than an endless stream of threats, directives and sanctions.
At the same time, North Korea has withdrawn from the NPT and moved aggressively forward with its nuclear weapons program. Now they are prepared to demonstrate the results of their work by detonating an underground atomic bomb.
Once again, the catastrophic failure of the Bush foreign policy is plain to see.
A nuclear device in the hands of the North will naturally generate an arms race in the region and further erode the influence of the threadbare NPT.
Tragically, all of this could have been avoided with minimal diplomacy and an elementary grasp of human psychology.
The bottom line is this; Bush has put us all in greater peril by his dim-witted bravado and saber-rattling.
American Intelligence agencies now believe that North Korea has enough fissile material for between 2 to 8 nuclear warheads and they are speeding ahead with the development of the requisite delivery systems.
By any standard, the Bush policy has been an utter flop. The magnitude of their failure has only been augmented by their "last minute" threats to Kim Jung Il.
Just yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill warned North Korea that "they can have a future or they can have those weapons. They can’t have both."
That’s pretty tough talk from an administration that can’t even beat the poorest country in Asia in 5 year-long war.
Does Hill really believe that the over-extended US military can open another front and fight it out on the Korean Peninsula?
Is there anyone who takes this nonsense seriously or is it just more chest-thumping bluster?
The Bush administration never tires of the fiery oratory but, so far, the only thing at which they’ve excelled dressing up terror-suspects in frilly undergarments before beating them senseless.
That’s not a reassuring track-record.
The Bush team can now be counted on to follow the familiar pattern of ignoring the problem while creating a public relations smokescreen to conceal their incompetence.
Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice will undoubtedly make their appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows claiming that "we are all much safer" under the enlightened leadership of George Bush.
Perhaps, they could synchronize their silly assertions to coincide with the explosion of Korea’s first nuclear weapon.
This is really an astonishing development!
The ham-fisted policy-wonks in the Oval Office have elevated an unstable megalomaniac into a nuclear-armed menace.
What could be worse?
It may be the greatest foreign policy meltdown in the new century.
How could Bush let this situation get this far when the central tenet of the war on terror is: "We will not let the world’s most dangerous weapons fall into the hands of the world’s worst dictators"?
Well the madcap Mr. Kim may have something to say about that, and we might not like was he says.
Even at this late date; the "eleventh hour, there are positive things that can be done to forestall the detonation of the weapon.
First, Bush could agree to two-party talks with representatives from the North, which is what North Korea demanded from the beginning.
Second, Bush could offer to review all sanctions directed against North Korea and publicly state that he will reassess whether they are warranted.
Third, (and most important) Bush could offer firm assurances in the form of a treaty that North Korea WILL NOT BE ATTACKED BY THE UNITED STATES IF IT ABANDONS ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMS.
This has been the North’s primary demand from the very onset of the crisis. (although it has been omitted from newspaper coverage to conceal the fact that the rest of the world is actually terrified of the America’s erratic behavior)
Forth, the administration should reconsider providing the oil, food, and light-water reactors which were part of the original "Framework Agreement" as long as North Korea agrees to undergo intensive "go anywhere, see anything" inspections conducted by the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.
Tragedy can still be averted if cooler heads prevail. The time for bluster is past. The present policy is a dead-loss which has put everyone at much greater risk.
The North is currently working out the kinks in its Taepodong ICBM; a ballistic missile which will be capable of hitting targets on mainland USA. No one in their right mind would wait on the sidelines while the North adds the finishing-touches to their weapons systems.
If we are serious that "We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," (as Condi Rice opined) the administration must take decisive steps to defuse the present crisis and discard their blinkered policy.
Its time to change directions, amend the policy, and negotiate a peaceful settlement.
The alternatives are too horrible to even consider.