Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong-il’

Bushie Bellyaching Bombs

August 7, 2009

Amid celebrations over the return of journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling from captivity in North Korea, George W Bush’s former United Nations ambassador John Bolton has been leading a chorus of critics. Bush people and their far-right cheerleaders just can’t stand to see anyone, especially Democrats, succeed where they so dangerously failed.

Bolton, too extreme to win Senate confirmation, lambasted Bill Clinton’s mission to free the women, “I think this is a very bad signal because it does exactly what we always try and avoid doing with terrorists, or with rogue states in general, and that’s encouraging their bad behavior,” Bolton told AFP news agency. Bolton’s fellow travelers are ignoring White House denials to insist Clinton’s visit carried an official imprint, including a message from US President Barack Obama to North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il. Instead, they choose to believe the account of a North Korean regime that asserts Kim shot a 38 under par in his first-ever round of golf, between composing the world’s greatest operas.

This rightwing reflex rejectionism is shameful, not just for its heartlessness or disregard of facts, but in light of the Bush administration’s track record on North Korea. After the Clinton team negotiated a tentative end to North Korea’s nuclear program, the Bush people abandoned that track in favor of isolation, declaring North Korea part of its “axis of evil.” Predictably, North Korea resumed its nuclear program.

When US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly confronted Pyongyang with evidence of its nuclear activities in October 2002, the Bush administration already had plans to launch an attack to eliminate the threat of unsanctioned weapons of mass destruction – against Iraq. Rather than act on legitimate evidence of a nuclear program in North Korea, a rogue regime with a history of state sponsored terrorism and other international criminal acts run by a cash-strapped madman, the Bush administration chose to trump up a phony war against Iraq, the longtime neoconservative nemesis.

North Korea learned the lesson of the Iraq invasion, but it wasn’t the lesson the Bush administration wanted to teach. After scrapping its nuclear program and enduring more than a decade of sanctions, Iraq could offer only token resistance to US-led regime change. Kim Jong-il realized that without nuclear weapons, he’d be a sitting duck for a similar attack. The Dear Leader didn’t realize that the Bush people’s strategic map didn’t go east of Pakistan. East Asia was strictly for political posturing and business.

North Korea escalated its provocative acts, from kicking out nuclear inspectors in late 2002 to shooting missiles between South Korea and Japan in early 2003. The Bush brain trust with its mantra, then and now, that it would not reward “bad behavior” responded by opening direct talks with North Korea in Beijing. After more bad behavior, the Six Party Talks began.

When North Korea exploded its first nuclear bomb in 2006, the Bush administration that antagonized, then ignored Kim Jong-il to set the stage for this spectacular failure did the only thing it could – it blamed Bill Clinton. If Clinton had followed Bush’s formula, Pyongyang would have created his nuclear arsenal on the Democrat’s watch. Clinton’s role in another North Korea success has the Bush people nearly apoplectic.

Without the Bushie bombast, seeing Clinton might remind Americans that in its eight years the Bush administration struggled mightily first to undo the progress Clinton made toward defanging North Korea and then to redo a fraction of it. In between, the Bush people gave North Korea a window to develop its nuclear arsenal. From a list crammed with contenders, history may judge letting Kim Jong-il build the bomb the Bush administration’s worst foreign policy blunder.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

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