Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hooray for North Korea!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

At Think Progress, Joe Cirincione reports (from an article in the Post) that "[s]enior Bush administration officials wanted North Korea to test a nuclear weapon because it would prove their point that the regime must be overthrown". According to the Post article, these officials were actually "rooting for a test" (my emphasis).

Cirincione interprets this revelation as "evidence of how the administration’s national security policy has become completely divorced from reality". I concur, although I was thinking in simpler terms: It's yet more evidence of just how crazy both the people and the policy are. Containment and engagement -- in other words, serious diplomacy, worked. The Bush approach, a combination of neglect and rhetorical aggression, has done nothing to diffuse one of the world's most pressing crises.

And now we find that they were hoping for a nuclear test, for a rogue regime run by a brutal totalitarian to test a nuclear bomb and therewith to become a nuclear power, for an event that could ultimately provoke widespread destabilization in East Asia, perhaps even a regional arms race?!

I'd be surprised if it weren't all so predictable. They've gotten so much wrong, why not this, and so much more wrong, and at a new level of craziness, than we thought?

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And, lest we forget, there's Iran, which, according to the Post, "has taken another step in its ability to enrich uranium".

Good thing Bush is so focused on staying the course, or not, in Iraq.

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UPDATE: We now know that the bomb North Korea tested was a plutonium one. For more on the significance of this, see this excellent piece by nuclear physicist James Gordon Prather at The National Interest.

Prather argues that the Agreed Framework developed under Clinton successfully contained North Korea's nuclear program. Once in office, and then with North Korea a member of the Axis of Evil, Bush "saw the Agreed Framework as constricting and welcomed a North Korean (and Iraqi and Iranian) withdrawal from the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty]". North Korea withdrew and "restarted [its] Plutonium-239 producing reactor".

What this means is not only that North Korea's development of a plutonium bomb occurred on Bush's watch but that Bush is himself responsible for North Korea's development of a plutonium bomb. Indeed, according to Prather: "Bush can put a nuke-armed North Korea on his list of foreign-policy achievements."

And what a list of achievements that is: Iraq is descending into chaos, genocide continues in Darfur, and Iran and North Korea are developing or have developed nuclear weapons. And then there's the rift over Iraq between the U.S. and Europe, as well as the loss of American credibility as a result of the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and the rendition of prisoners to secret prisons and foreign jurisdictions that sanction torture. And then there's Afghanistan, which has largely been ignored. And... well, it's all bad.

(I intend to post this update as a new post, but I'll keep it here as well.)

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