Or, to put it another way, if the media had reported other aspects of George W. Bush’s presidency the way they’ve mischaracterized his failed North Korea deal as a “rare triumph of diplomacy,” or so says the cliche-o-meter, Bush would probably have a 60% approval rating right now.*
The Weekly Standard blog also digs at Chris Hill’s “choreography” and links to Mike Chinoy’s unintentionally damning description of just how chummy Hill has become with the Heydrichs and Eichmanns of Pyongyang (the title of Chinoy’s book, “Meltdown,” unintentionally acquired new meaning before it was even published when the North Koreans undermined his major premise — his doctrinaire atheism about North Korea’s enrichment of uranium, which Chinoy posited to be a holographic projection of neocon conspirators).
All of which probably amounts to little more than a lot of gawking disbelief from foreign policy conservatives abandoned by “their” president in an election year. It’s clear by now that Bush is focused exclusively on the North Korea exhibit in his presidential library, and Rice on the North Korea chapter of her memoirs. Nothing will stop them when all eyes are elsewhere and the watchdogs are slumbering, though a few have the power to slow them down for a while. All of this has at least forced the administration to swear up and down, again, that it would never dream of compromising on verification, particularly not for the reasons we all know Rice is still trying to ride this dying horse. For her at least, the finish line is so close.
In the end, only God and Kim Jong Il can save us from ourselves.
At the Wall Street Journal, John Bolton and Nicholas Eberstadt argue that we should not fear a North Korean collapse tomorrow as much as one after North Korea builds and proliferates more WMD’s, after North Korea becomes even more of an economic and humanitarian basket case. Yes, and wherever they’re free to expand on that idea at greater length, they should also answer some valid questions about how to prepare for the cost of that crisis while also avoiding a costly occupation of a broken, hostile land, or a war with China. That is where some skillful diplomacy and wise, restrained military planning is needed now.
(Tantalizing morsel of the day — the North Koreans now tell us that Kim is “tired” from the hard work of the last summer. Hmmm. Sounds a little like Yuri Andropov’s “cold,” doesn’t it? Or maybe he’s just “pining.” Until now, I hadn’t realized that not feeding anyone was such hard work.)
Regime collapse is the least-bad of several bad alternatives, including the one that’s failing now. But no one ought to take a prosaic view of it, or delay the urgent but thoughtful planning of where each tent city, feeding station, field hospital, engineer unit, and observer force should be placed … or whose flag those units will fly. This is inevitable, it’s going to happen sooner than almost anyone in this city thinks, it will be its own kind of catastrophe, and there will be no excuse not to be prepared for it.
* It makes you shudder — or ought to — to consider that we may soon see what it really means for an American president to have unchecked power: the full, obedient, and uncritical adoration of both houses of Congress and the “watchdogs” of our democracy. Someone kick those dogs and wake them up. They’ve become the weakest link in our democratic political system. I predict that in two years, at least some of us will look back fondly on the political competition you only really get with a divided government. Just look at how the Republicans screwed it up, and how the Democrats did the same before that.