2003 March 19 Wednesday
Jonathan Rauch on Bush Administration North Korea Policy

Writing for the National Journal Jonathan Rauch reports on a talk with a senior Bush Administration official involved in setting North Korea policy. The Bush Administration official says bilateral negotiations are destined to fail.

OK, so where's the diplomacy? Contrary to much of what is assumed, replied the official, the administration's refusal to deal bilaterally with Pyongyang does not stem from Bush's dislike of President Kim Jong Il or from a dogmatic refusal to submit to blackmail. "It's really based more on our experience dealing with North Korea. We think that in a bilateral negotiation or dialogue with North Korea, we've learned that the other countries run for the hills. That's what happened in 1994."

(True, says Ivo Daalder, a Brookings Institution foreign-policy expert who worked on President Clinton's National Security Council staff -- and who is no fan of Bush's North Korea policy. Recalling the 1994 effort to cope with North Korea's nuclear threat, he said, "It was awful. Every time we got tough, they" -- other countries in the region -- "walked away, and every time we got weak, they got tough.")

The Bush Administration is making progress in convincing other countries in the region that multilateral negotiations is the best approach to dealing with North Korea. The article has a number of other interesting points and is worth reading.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 March 19 01:44 PM  Politics Grand Strategy

A Berman said at March 20, 2003 7:41 AM:

All negotiations are destined to fail.

The situation is very simple. Whether or not we admit it publically, or even to ourselves, the United States wants to end the North Korean regime. Whether it's by "managing their decline," as we did the Soviet Union, or by pre-emptive strikes, the fact is that it is a horrible regime that grates at our collective conscience. Note that the phrase "managing their decline" was a phrased used by Clinton officials off-the-record to newspapers to describe their strategy in the 90's. So any negotiation on our part will be (correctly) perceived as part of a longer-term strategy to eliminate the North Korean regime. Our willingness to change the regime in Iraq actually reinforces this belief.

Do we really think the North Koreans will gloss over this little fact? Our long-term intention to end the regime is the elephant in the room that we can pretend is not there, but the North Koreans plainly see. So the North Koreans are going to secure themselves against both the threat of military destruction, and of economic destruction. Military security comes through nuclear weapons, economic security comes through blackmail. Security against the US also involves bringing the battle to us with long-range missiles. And the North Koreans will simply not negotiate away their security. Period.

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