More fallout from George W. Bush's disastrous presidency
I'm listening to GOP vote stealer Ben Ginsburg go on and on blaming President Obama for this possible H-Bomb test in North Korea. Apparently, the Republicans forget that it was their macho hero George W. Bush who sat idly by and let North Korea get the bomb:
On Oct. 4, 2002, officials from the U.S. State Department flew to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, and confronted Kim Jong-il's foreign ministry with evidence that Kim had acquired centrifuges for processing highly enriched uranium, which could be used for building nuclear weapons. To the Americans' surprise, the North Koreans conceded. It was an unsettling revelation, coming just as the Bush administration was gearing up for a confrontation with Iraq. This new threat wasn't imminent; processing uranium is a tedious task; Kim Jong-il was almost certainly years away from grinding enough of the stuff to make an atomic bomb.
But the North Koreans had another route to nuclear weapons--a stash of radioactive fuel rods, taken a decade earlier from its nuclear power plant in Yongbyon. These rods could be processed into plutonium--and, from that, into A-bombs--not in years but in months. Thanks to an agreement brokered by the Clinton administration, the rods were locked in a storage facility under the monitoring of international weapons-inspectors. Common sense dictated that--whatever it did about the centrifuges--the Bush administration should do everything possible to keep the fuel rods locked up.
Unfortunately, common sense was in short supply. After a few shrill diplomatic exchanges over the uranium, Pyongyang upped the ante. The North Koreans expelled the international inspectors, broke the locks on the fuel rods, loaded them onto a truck, and drove them to a nearby reprocessing facility, to be converted into bomb-grade plutonium. The White House stood by and did nothing. Why did George W. Bush--his foreign policy avowedly devoted to stopping "rogue regimes" from acquiring weapons of mass destruction--allow one of the world's most dangerous regimes to acquire the makings of the deadliest WMDs? Given the current mayhem and bloodshed in Iraq, it's hard to imagine a decision more ill-conceived than invading that country unilaterally without a plan for the "post-war" era. But the Bush administration's inept diplomacy toward North Korea might well have graver consequences. President Bush made the case for war in Iraq on the premise that Saddam Hussein might soon have nuclear weapons--which turned out not to be true. Kim Jong-il may have nuclear weapons now; he certainly has enough plutonium to build some, and the reactors to breed more.
Yet Bush has neither threatened war nor pursued diplomacy. He has recently, and halfheartedly, agreed to hold talks; the next round is set for June. But any deal that the United States might cut now to dismantle North Korea's nuclear-weapons program will be harder and costlier than a deal that Bush could have cut 18 months ago, when he first had the chance, before Kim Jong-il got his hands on bomb-grade material and the leverage that goes with it.
The pattern of decision making that led to this debacle--as described to me in recent interviews with key former administration officials who participated in the events--will sound familiar to anyone who has watched Bush and his cabinet in action. It is a pattern of wishful thinking, blinding moral outrage, willful ignorance of foreign cultures, a naive faith in American triumphalism, a contempt for the messy compromises of diplomacy, and a knee-jerk refusal to do anything the way the Clinton administration did it.
And every single one of the Republicans who are running today would be even worse.
Read on. There's more to the story. Once Bush let this happen with no response there wasn't a whole lot anyone could do. But don't look to the political media to explain this properly to the people. If they go on as they have this morning it will be non-stop GOP blaming of Obama and Clinton. They don't seem to remember any of this very recent history.