Skip to comments.Kerry’s Unilateralism Going it alone with North Korea.
Posted on 10/01/2004 5:45:28 AM PDT by GailA
James S. Robbins
Kerrys Unilateralism Going it alone with North Korea.
Of all the exchanges in the first presidential debate, at the University of Miami Thursday night, the one I found most perplexing was over the North Korean nuclear issue. Senator John Kerry seems to have an unremitting fixation on solving all the outstanding issues on the peninsula in one grand diplomatic swoop. "I want bilateral talks which put all of the issues, from the armistice of 1952, the economic issues, the human-rights issues, the artillery disposal issues, the DMZ issues, and the nuclear issues on the table," he said. In all other areas of foreign policy, Kerry counsels multilateralism in fact the only concrete plan he seems to have regarding any international issue at all is to "have a summit," one of the ways we can "pass the global test." But with respect to North Korea, the senator wants the U.S. to go it alone, and to scrap the ongoing six-party talks. To be fair, Kerry says that they would continue concurrently with bilateral talks, but considering that the only reason the North Koreans showed up at the multilateral talks at all was because they were denied the bilateral talks they had been demanding, it's hard to see how this follows. Thus, Kerry's plan would hand Pyongyang an effortless victory, and undo years of solid work.
But let's back up a bit. The issue begins with the 1994 Agreed Framework, a fatally flawed document that was supposed to limit North Korean nuclear-weapons development but still allow them to pursue nuclear power. The verification elements of the Agreed Framework were sorely inadequate Kerry may place great faith in, for example, having TV cameras in nuclear facilities, but with robust inspection (and, as history has shown, even with inspection) confidence-building gestures such as this are worthless. By March 1999, the Department of Energy reported that North Korea was working on uranium-enrichment techniques. (Note for those who think President Bush does not command detail, he was right in correcting Kerry's claim that the North Koreans were using plutonium.) The CIA reported in April 2001 that North Korea had probably constructed two nuclear weapons in recent years that is, not during President Bush's watch, as Kerry claimed, but earlier. The next month the North Koreans threatened to pull out of the Agreed Framework, and in June 2001 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors complained that North Korea was not allowing them sufficient access to do their jobs. A year later, after the IAEA could not verify North Korean compliance with the Agreed framework (because of DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) intransigence), President Bush denied North Korea certification. By December 2002, North Korea had ejected the IAEA inspectors completely, and in January 2003, they pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Meanwhile Pyongyang was demanding that the United States engage them in bilateral talks as the only way to solve the crisis. They threatened war unless they got their way. Nevertheless, patient diplomacy and presidential resolve held firm, and eventually the DPRK relented. The first six-party talks were in August, 2003.
Kerry's suggestion of bilateral talks covering the entire universe of U.S.-North Korean issues would be extremely detrimental to U.S. security interests. First, it would alienate South Korea, and elevate North Korea to the status of an equal partner with the United States on issues of the Korean peninsula. China, Japan, and Russia would also be left outside, countries with legitimate security interests in the region countries that in fact make up the region. Having so many issues on the table would give the North Korean negotiators endless opportunities for procedural mischief that is, after they have exhausted the U.S. team with the debate over what shape the table should be. One might ask where in our history of bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans the Kerry team looks for optimism. The Korean War settlement, which only came after President Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons? The Pueblo Incident, in which Pyongyang humiliated the United States for almost a year until the return of the ship's crew? Or the Agreed Framework itself, which was intended to prevent North Korean nuclear armament but in fact was what made it possible?
I doubt many people were paying attention to this part of the debate, but I understood why the president looked so exasperated.
OCT. 1, 2004: THE DEBATE
David Frum's Diary
Exhausted from an evening of doing Allied Island TV, ie, BBC and Japans NHK. Short post now, more to follow, but
Remarkably, it was the man with the big lead President Bush who took the debates biggest risk: His frank discussion of meeting with the wife of a slain soldier, PJ Johnson. To talk so candidly and personally about grief and loss is not something that presidents who have ordered men into battle have been accustomed to do. But Bush did it and thus created what may have been the evenings most memorable and moving moment.
Sen. Kerry by contrast was as usual fatally cautious. He was indeed fluent and calm as everybody will soon be saying. But Kerrys problem going into this debate was not that anyone doubted that he spoke English well or that voice was sufficiently grave and mellifluous. Kerrys problem was that the Bush campaign has persuaded crucial segments of the electorate that Kerry is too weak and indecisive to be command in war.
That problem was intensified by this debate. Two examples:
In response to a presidential dig about Kerrys I-voted-for-it-before-I-voted against it gaffe, the senator said the following: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq.
Moderator Jim Lehrer immediately - and maybe predictably - responded with this question:
Speaking of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came back from Vietnam, and you said, quote, How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?
Kerrys answer? No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership that we put -- that I'm offering.
So mistake or not mistake? Kerry cant decide.
It happened again in Kerrys two-minute concluding remarks. He opened thus:
I know that for many of you sitting at home, parents of kids in Iraq, you want to know who's the person who could be a commander in chief who could get your kids home and get the job done and win the peace.Then, less than 60 seconds later, he said: I'm not talking about leaving. I'm talking about winning. Well which is it? Getting the kids home or winning the war?
Kerry has locked himself in a strategic box. Only a horrible mistake by President Bush could have let him out. The president didnt stumble. So Kerry is still boxed in and losing the election in consequence.
Kerry thinks he is the master of persuasion. Kim Jong Il would regard him as a useful idiot.
What can you say--Kerry is an idiot.
Would that all voters be this astute. ;)
To me this was the main reason why only an idiot would think that Kerry did a good job last night.
This and the stupid statement on promising no preemptive strikes.
Well John, he's not above preemtive strikes if they meet the "Global Test"...(sneer). If America elects this clymer, they'll get what they deserve.
I didn't look at style, I looked at substance. And on substance sKerry lost because he was on both sides of the same issue, just different countries. But we here are political/news junkies and are well up on the subjects where the majority of the public isn't.
" Thus, Kerry's plan would hand Pyongyang an effortless victory, and undo years of solid work. "
Indeed. It would make Pyongyang's WMD ambitions merely an argument between it and the (imperialistic) U.S. - instead of being an overriding threat to all of Asia and even beyond.
Kerry unceasingly, throughout his life, has attributed the best intentions to people, such as communists and terrorists - who are intent on killing us. And the worst intentions to those who seek the survival of America and actively participate in its defense.
Bush needs to get beyond the "you had the same intelligence I did," routine. The Sudan ethnic cleaning would have been a good place to point out the error of waiting for the UN...
Kerry is inconsistent, and a liar by omission
Kerry doesn't understand that it is much easier for N. Korea to lie to the USA alone than to lie to China and Russia too.