Carol Platt Liebau: The North Korean Threat

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The North Korean Threat

As this AP piece points out, the North Korean missiles posed no threat to the United States.

No immediate threat, that is. The fact that a madman is well on his way to developing nukes and learning how to deliver them does, in fact, pose a significant danger to the entire world. Amazing that the only ones who have been willing openly (if profanely) to discuss it have been the creators of "Team America: World Police".

Television "experts" on CNN -- particularly MIT's Jim Walsh -- have been insisting that the goals of North Korea's missile launch are political, not military. (We hope.) Then, in the next breath, Walsh has asserted that the situation has grown worse over the past 6 years (from almost exactly the time that President Bush was elected, it seems -- convenient, no?). That's because, according to Walsh, we've taken a tough line and imposed sanctions, which has made North Korea (a "proud country") "lose face." It's worth wondering what "experts" like Walsh think we should do -- reward Kim Jung Il's bellicosity with new sanctions? He actually seems to think so . . .

And it's silly to try to cast political blame for what's become a very worrisome situation, but if it's going to be politicized, there's plenty of blame to go around, beginning with the Clinton Administration. As Ben Johnson noted back in 2003 in the pages of Frontpage Magazine:

Evidence that North Korea was violating the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty surfaced within weeks of Clinton's first inauguration. After a year of inaction allowed Pyongyang to create at least one nuclear weapon, the emboldened Stalinists announced their formal withdrawal from the treaty. It seemed North Korean officials were angling for a payoff. They must have realized they struck the jackpot when Clinton named tough-as-nails Jimmy Carter as his principal negotiator.

Under the final terms of the Agreed Framework approved in October of 1994, Clinton agreed to provide the "Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea" (DPRK) with two light water nuclear reactors and a massive allotment of oil. The U.S. agreed to ship 500,000 metric tons of oil annually in response to the North's pretense that the energy-starved backwater had developed the nuclear facility to generate power. These shipments have cost taxpayers more than $800 million to date - a bargain compared with the $6 billion spent on constructing the nuclear reactors, which now empower North Korea to produce 100 nuclear bombs each year.

All these measures failed to quell the North's atom-lust.


Blogger wrabkin said...

It's silly to cast blame... BUT IT'S ALL CLINTONS FAULT!

Ah, the sweet summer song of the Republican party. It's all Clinton's fault.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Whenever Bush is in deep do-do for doing nothing, it's silly to play the blame game say the righteous Bush followers. Although they always end up pointing their finger at Clinton.

Carol told us how glorious Bush's pre-emptive doctrine with Iraq was and is. So why is she failing to back another war? Don't the North Koreans need democracy and a free society also?

All Bush had on Iraq was forged documents claiming they bought yellow-cake. With North Korea, they have nuclear warheads and they are firing off missiles.

The Bush followers claimed UN sanctions didn't work in Iraq and the UN is worthless group of do-nothings. Yet now, they look for more UN sanctions.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

I guess we have to call Carol "silly".

9:50 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

The UN may be ineffectual and a club largely for propping up the bona fides of dictators around the world, but it is the only game in town.

I'm sure Bolton knows this fully well, but nonetheless he has to mouth the diplospeak.

To review for the benefit of all:

1) The North Korean nuclear program is Clinton's fault.

2) Launching missiles without telling anyone that they are planning the test is North Korea's fault.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...

Hey, did you all hear? In spite of six years of Republican monopoly on power, everything is Clinton's fault!

Carol, you are like a pretzel, or maybe an anaconda, twisting and contorting your "logic" more and more every day in a vain attempt to deflect criticism away from your GOP puppetmasters, from whom all blessings flow.

Here's a quick guide to Carol's worldview for all you kids out there following along:

If a Democrat succeeds at doing anything good, it's at best an accident, but more than likely it's because of something a Republican predecessor did.

When a Republican errs, there are several plausible explanations:
1) He/she is not really a Republican, but a RINO, meaning they're really a Democrat, which explains everything.
2) Whatever seems to be a mistake now only appears that way because of a lack of vision. Just wait.
3) If it really is a mistake, it was an impossible situation the Republican inherited from a Democrat.
4) In the event the blunder cannot be explained by the first three, try again. If that still fails, just know that the Republican's heart is in the right place and is therefore inoculated from any criticism.

10:30 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

Flip all the party affiliation and you have the working story for any newspaper.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Ahh, Memory Lane!

Was it Jimmy (I luv all dictators) Carter, or Gerald Ford that went to Korea with Clinton's (or was it George the 1st?) blessings to negotiate a halt to Kim's nuclear program? Wasn't it world traveler and peanut farmer Carter? At the request of Clinton? Yes, kids, blame can be placed, again, legitimately, in Clinton's lap!

Then, with assurances that N.K. would be honorable and abide by the agreement, Carter returned triumphantly! Of course, he also returned proving stupidity - because he believed the lies of a paranoid dictator - but we don't talk about that.

Who cares? Twist it around and blame George the 2nd! Everything is his fault. Boring! Leftists are sooo full of bullstuffing!

10:51 AM  
Blogger dodger said...

I think the world is aware that Korea obtained their nuclear capability with the assistance of Jimmah and Slick Willie. Bush was unable to stuff the genie back in the bottle. Should he be faulted for not doing the impossible? Will the fault stick? Answer to both, NO.

So what to do now? Ya know, I don't have the slightest clue. Should something be done? Answer, yes. Has anything been done? Diplomacy, but save putting the genie back in the bottle there is little that can be done.

Can we ever learn this lesson? It is real easy to pass a law, real difficult, if not impossible, to repeal them.

The left's preferable action? Kick the can down the road.

Takes no courage, no risk to the kicker, easy to do.

Sure glad our founding fathers didn't do the latter.

12:00 PM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

I don't understand. On the one hand, Bush is the great Decider, who singlehandedly solves the world's problems. On the other hand, nothing he does has any effect at all, and everything that happens does so because of Clinton and Carter. (Odd, I seem to recall there were 12 years in between those two. I guess nothing happened then, either.)

12:16 PM  
Blogger eLarson said...

wrabkin, you really DON'T understand.

2:04 PM  
Blogger eLarson said...

Odd, I seem to recall there were 12 years in between those two.
I should add, that Carter went to visit Li'l Kim in 1994. The link is to the Carter Center, so it should show his visit in what Jimmuh would consider the best possible light. Not surprisingly Newsmax was less complimentary. At any rate, that WAS during the Clinton Administration, and even before the GOP took the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

In October 2000, Madeline Albright offered up this toast at a dinner hosted by Kim Jong Il. (Some October Surprise!)

I'm not going ascribe motives to James Earl or to Albright--I'm sure they THOUGHT they were doing God's work and all--but in the end, it wasn't very effectual on the nuclear front.

2:11 PM  
Blogger eLarson said...

Odd, I seem to recall there were 12 years in between those two.

Yes, there were. Which makes me wonder what in the heck he was doing in North Korea in 1994. (link to the Carter Center, an altogether rosier take on the event than Newsmax's account.) Carter's visit, incidentally was even before the Republican's retook the House in the midterm elections.

In 2000 Madeline Albright offered up a toast at a dinner party held by Li'l Kim. (Some October Surprise!)

At the end of the day, the negotiations were ineffectual. If there was a real agreement, it would appear that the NorKs broke it.

All this, though, really had more to do with Li'l Kim's nuclear ambitions. It had nothing to do with the missiles, however.

2:23 PM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

I'm a little confused -- are you saying Madeleine Allbright toasted Kim Jong Il before or after Cheney and Rumsfeld sold chemical weapons to Saddam?

3:37 PM  
Blogger amber said...

I heard someone say we should counter by giving Japan nukes. I thought it was funny, I wouldn't condone doing it, but it was funny. Honestly, I am a little more curious about Iran's link to NK's test. I thought they did this as a joint effort. I will do some research on that, I am not clear on the connection. If anyone is, I would like to know their refrance. All of this happened (Isreal and Syria too) while I was away visitting family for the 4th. I am curious how it will all play out. NK would not nuke us, at least not yet, but I do find it interesting they want a nuke that can reach us. I am also confused why this is Bush's fault. Mrs. Clinton was out telling the media that this never happened under her husband's watch. Well, no, ma'am it took the NK's a few years to apply the technology that your husband gave them. Bill is so brilliant he gave it away under the condition that NK would not create nukes. Ahhh, shake my head, at least this gives us a stronger standing in the public when we start increasing the military budget even more to counter NK and the media's desire to leak every secret our country has. Oh well.

God Bless America, land that I love.

4:38 PM  
Blogger eLarson said...

I'm a little confused -- [non sequitur, uncited]

What I'm saying is this: Democrats during the time of Clinton (including Jimmy Carter in 1994) may well have "meant well" but it didn't do a lick of good in the end. Kim Jong Il didn't stick with any agreement that may have been hammered out between 1994 and 2000.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

North Korea's nuclear ambitions started early in Reagans' presidency but he figured his SDI program would save the day. His SDI program was scrapped after billions were spent.

5:49 PM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

Kim started processing uranium into plutonium when Bush reneged on the deal that Clinton worked out and stopped shipments of fuel oil.

Clinton's deal was not perfect -- how could it have been, considering who he was dealing with? -- but Bush abandoned it in favor of 6 years of name calling. This is the result. Tough talk isn't always a winning strategy -- especially when the person you're talking to knows you can't back it up because your army is bogged down thousands of miles away.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

The linked article from "Foreign Affairs" makes a pretty good case that Bush made the same errors as with Iraq.

10:50 PM  
Blogger eLarson said...

how could it have been, considering who he was dealing with

Exactly. The point is, why should we even try to "deal"?

7:37 AM  
Blogger wrabkin said...


Why should we try to deal? Because this is the real world, and Kim is a world leader, and the decisions he makes have consequences... and because we can't simply impose our will wherever we want. Even the richest, most powerful nation with the biggest military on earth can't. We prove that every day in Iraq.

So if we don't deal, what are our choices? Do we just pretend they don't exist? Unfortunately, Kim seems to like attention, so if he's just ignored, he'll keep acting until he can't be ignored any more. Can we strike him militarily? Technically, yes, but the repercussions would be huge. He would probably wipe out South Korea and has said he'd do his best to take out Japan. That is the worst case scenario, the very thing we're working to avoid.

So what are the options besides dealing? Granted, it's nothing more than the least worst solution. But one great flaw of the Bush administration is that in a position where all the choices are bad and they have to choose the least bad, they don't -- instead, they pretend the problem doesn't exist. It's like dealing with a leaky pipe by ignoring it. Eventually, reality catches up.

10:35 AM  
Blogger amber said...

I understand your point about us needing to deal with him because he is the leader of a country, and to some extent I agree. At what point do you, wrabkin, decide that we can not deal with them? It is a hard decision to make, but I am curious where you draw the line. No one knew Hitler was as evil as he was. We did not go to war to save the Jewish people, we were shocked to find what we did and humbled to be able to save them (not just Jewish people, but everyone who Hitler hated), but we did not know they (the death camps) were there. I am not saying that Kim does or does not have concentration camps, but what I am saying is at some point we decided that diplomacy was not an option, we had to act. Lucky for us all we did. But please, with respect, I would like to know where you draw the line.

11:31 AM  
Blogger wrabkin said...


Your question is a good and hard one. There were voices in America in the '30s who said we should take on Hitler, and those who preached neutrality. (An interesting historical fact -- it was mostly Democrats who wanted to intervene and Republicans who wanted to stay out.) But the fact is, there was never a point that Hitler was deemed so bad we had to take him on. We entered World War 2 because we were attacked by Japan, which declared war on us. And since Japan and Germany were united, we were at war with Germany. (And Italy, too!)

I'm not saying this was the right call; just that it's the way it happened.

But the argument about Hitler was different from Kim, even if we had chosen to go after him. Hitler's Germany was a military powerhouse that was actively invading and occupying other nations and had the intent -- and if we and the Russians hadn't intervened -- the ability to take over much of the world. There was a legitimate argument that Hitler needed to be chased out of those other countries.

Kim Jong Il is no Hitler in that way. Although his regime sounds hideously brutal and insane from the few reports that come out of that country, his oppression is confined by his own borders. If he harbors any secret desires to rule the entire world, he certainly has never demonstrated any will to put the dream into action.

So what we're talking about is an intervention into a sovereign nation to change its government because we don't like that government. That would be a first for the US -- even GWB didn't dare try to justify the invasion of Iraq this way until long after we occupied Baghdad. Principally we were invading because they posed a clear and present danger to us.

So if we make the decision to do that, what are the consequences? Not only the regional consequences if Kim were to live up to his threats and destroy as much of South Korea and Japan as he could, or the inevitable tens or hundreds of thousands -- or millions -- of North Koreans killed. But how would the United States of America be viewed in the world if our stated policy was "If we don't like your government, we have the right to invade and put in the government of our choice"?

I know that you -- and those planning the invasion -- would honestly believe you were doing this for only the best, most honorable reasons. But do you really think anyone outside the US would see it that way? Is there a country out there that would not turn rabidly anti-American? Look at international opinion polls now -- the vast majority of the world no longer sees us as a force for good, and that's mostly because of Iraq. Try it again and see what happens.

And even though we are the biggest and most powerful nation out there, we need other countries. What if China called our debts? What if OPEC refused to sell us oil? What if South America wouldn't ship up food anymore?

We are not a self-sustaining island -- no nation is anymore. We need to exist in the world. And to do that, we need to respect the international laws we've agreed to abide by.

12:42 PM  
Blogger amber said...

good answer. I just want to clarify that I would not invade North Korea, I don't think that is warranted. I agree with the president when he says he will not have one on one talks with Kim. I think Kim needs to have the input of many nations of how they would react to any aggression. I still am quite curious about Kim's connections to Iran. As I understood it his tests were actually a joint effort between NK and Iran. If so, that changes some things.
I know people do not like to deal with this, but I do think if NK is joining with Iran, the NATO nations should discuss assassination. I know it is against the Geneva convention, but I like that course of action better than bombing his house like Regan did to Khadafi. Assassination is a touchy subject and the logistics of it would be difficult, and it seems so inhumane, but again it would be about protecting the western world.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...


Comsidering you might approve of assassination. Have you ever talked to or met Kim? Have you ever been to North Korea or talked to the people there?

5:11 PM  

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