Opinion

Rewriting history in North Korea

Leave it to the Democrats-particularly if their name is Clinton-to attempt once again to re-write history. As the issue of North Korea heats up, the Democrats have wasted no time blaming the Bush administration for the actions of mentally-unbalanced North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. Normally, I think liberals and Democrats-particularly since they got their own mentally unbalanced leader, Howard Dean-are full to the brim with self-righteous hypocrisy. In the case of North Korea, though, they’ve raised the art to new heights.

Among the many catcalls of those opposed to Iraq was the charge that the United States should not “go it alone,” that we needed other nations to be part of the negotiating process with Saddam Hussein because that would give our efforts the supposed legitimacy of international support. Although I submit we did that in first working through the ridiculously inane United Nations, it was very clear that whatever would have emerged from that process was so watered down it hardly would have made a difference. And thus we ended up having no choice but to take action.

From the beginning of the process, during the Bush administration, the United States has endeavored to deal with that nation through a diplomatic framework comprised of the major nations in the region-Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea. At every step, North Korea has proven nearly impossible to deal with, constantly demanding a one-on-one meeting with the United States. And yet, in a case where the Bush administration is doing everything diplomatically that liberals and Democrats demanded on Iraq, all we hear are demands that the United States must “go it alone” in North Korea. If the philosophical point is that more nations involved give the effort greater international legitimacy, then why is the only solution in North Korea the United States acting on its own? Looking at history provides an answer.

After taking office, President Clinton endeavored upon a series of negotiations with North Korea over the development of uranium enrichment and a possible nuclear weapons program. These negotiations began under the regime of Kim Il-Sung, the dictator that started the Korean War and the father of the current nutjob running the country. An agreement was reached following a series of diplomatic efforts conducted by former President Jimmy Carter, which provided for US assistance in helping North Korea to develop peaceful nuclear energy capabilities as well as food aid, provided the North Koreans give up their uranium enrichment capability. We kept up our end of the deal. North Korea never abided by their end of the agreement.

For nearly seven years, the Clinton administration did what liberals and Democrats are demanding and North Korea kept working on a nuclear weapon. North Korea has a nuclear weapon today, but not because Bush held them accountable; he inherited this problem.

Appeasing dictators has never worked. It didn’t work in Europe in the 1930s and it hasn’t worked with North Korea. If the Democrats are so concerned with US standing in the world, they should offer more than the policies we already know don’t work. If doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is one definition of insanity, then trusting liberal whining on North Korea is the most insane choice of all.

Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student concentrating in Middle Eastern history. He may be contacted at s.wacholtz@umiami.edu

October 17, 2006

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