Skip to comments.Hugh Hewitt commentary on North Korea
Posted on 01/09/2003 10:09:07 AM PST by ZGuy
Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic is my guest today, and I may be able to link up as well with Ralph Reed to discuss the retirement announcement by Zell Miller. (That announcement puts the GOP in the position of a huge, early advantage when it comes to the Senate races in 2004, which contributors will surely notice.)
I will discuss with Peter the North Korean situation, hopefully more productively than I did with Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo.com yesterday. Marshall, heir to Sidney Blumenthal's passion to defend the Clintons in all things at all costs, has taken to blaming North Korean nuclear adventurism on Bush Administration rhetoric, and to lame mocking of serious writers on the subject who repeatedly and persuasively point to the failure of Clinton-Carter appeasement to contain North Korea's ambitions. (See last week's article by Karen Elliot House.) Now Marshall and others are attacking the Administration for agreeing to meet with the North Koreans while refusing to negotiate with them. This perfectly obvious distinction --police meet with suspects all the time, for example, and rarely negotiate with them-- is not lost on the left, but in the desperate attempt to divert attention from the Clinton fecklessness, the announcement is chided by the critics as a reversal of previous policy.
The result of this carping is a diminishment of the credibility of the critics --again. As that credibility shrinks, the shrillness factor rises, as it did over at TalkingPointsMemo.com last night, in a second round of invective as transparent as round one where Marshall was branding as "pencil necks" the folks who had correctly predicted North Korean behavior for years. The problem with Democratic apologists like Marshall is that the experts believe North Korea began cheating on the 1994 agreement almost immediately, and that while the Clinton fumblers missed this entirely, the Bush Administration caught them and called them on the cheating. This is called competence, and it works. It also contrasts with Clinton-era see-no-evil appeasement that almost led to a December 2000 "normalization" trip by the legacy-hunting lame duck in the White House.
So now we are aware of, and openly discussing with our allies the North Korean gambit. Marshall and his colleagues on the ramparts at Clinton-town denounce this turn of events. They argue that the Bush folks have provoked the North Koreans into restarting the plutonium facility. Al Hunt argues Bush's "axis of evil" speech pushed North Korea into this breach of its agreement. Marshall is more sophisticated: He argues that overall Administration policy made the North Koreans toss out the inspectors and begin the start-up. Sophisticated does not, of course, equal correct. It is still a simplistic and transparent attempt to divert attention from Clinton-Carter appeasement, but it takes a touch longer to dismiss than Al Hunt's fevers.
Here are the four key questions:
1. When did the North Koreans begin to cheat? Answer: Long before the Bush Administration arrived.
2. Having caught them in cheating, what should the Administration have done? Exactly what it did do --call them on it.
3. Should the Clinton Administration agreed to the Framework Agreement of 1994?Absolutely not. Had it not done so, the stresses on the North Korean regime would have arrived much sooner, the collapse of the regime might have already occurred, and any confrontation with it would have been at a time when we were not simultaneously confronting Iraq. And, of course, the North Koreans wouldn't have had the nukes they are believed to have had today.
4. What should the Administration now do with a nuclear-armed North Korea? Exactly what it has done: Refuse to be blackmailed and use diplomacy to contain the regime in the hope that eventually it will collapse.
The Democrats had stewardship of American national security for eight years. During those eight years Al Qaeda grew from a small start-up terrorist operation into an international terror cartel and attached itself to the Taliban where it grew into the monster it was on 9/11; Saddam tossed out the U.N.; the Palestinian-Israeli crisis exploded, and North Korea secretly cheated on the agreement concerning its nuclear ambitions. Marshall and other Clinton apologists want to blame the Bush Administration for these developments. Right. They are welcome to try. Voters know better and have already cast their ballots against Democratic control of the Senate, and they will likely cast their ballots for years to come against the idea of Democratic amateurs getting anywhere near the foreign policy/nation security apparatus of the United States.
The Administration should welcome this debate among the pundits because it is spared the task of having to educate the public on the Clinton "record." The Clinton "defenders" are, incredibly, calling attention on a daily basis to Clinton-era fiascos, obliging the media to turn again and again to the Clinton record. This is exactly the conversation I hope we have for the next two years.
Rich Galen, at www.mullings.com, predicts the President will get 82.5% of his tax package. I think he's going to get 100% of his appeals court nominees. If --big if-- the confrontation with Iraq results in Saddam's ouster in the first half of 2003, this will be the most successful first term of any President in more than a century, including Reagan, FDR, and TR.
No wonder the left is in a panic. Realignment is a scary thing when you are on the wrong side of it. In this regard, be sure to catch Claudia Winkler's "The Party of Unbelievers" over at the Weekly Standard's web site.
And, finally, the Christian Science Monitor reports that "Rural tradition of hunting shows signs of decline." I am not buying this argument, but it is interesting.
Jaw-boning N. Korea--essentially a continuation of the Clinton doctrine--is an inadequate response. We must destory North Korea's nuclear facilities to ensure that N. Korea does not sell nukes to terrorist-friendly nations or groups. At the same time, we should remove our troops from South Korea (let South Korea defend itself--they don't want us there, and our main interest is the destruction of North Korea's nuclear plants, not protection of South Korea) and encourage Japan to develop a nuclear arsenal of its own.