First George W. Bush became Jimmy Carter, now this, at “Hillary Clinton’s” confirmation hearing:
“Our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear program – both the plutonium reprocessing program and the highly enriched uranium program, which there is reason to believe exists, although never quite verified,” she said.
Her vision of North Korea policy was much stronger in her written statements provided to Senator Richard Lugar before the hearing.
“The new Administration will pursue direct diplomacy bilaterally and within the Six-Party talks to achieve the complete and verifiable elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, and an accounting for North Korea’s past plutonium production, uranium enrichment activities, and proliferation activities,” according to the written statement provided to answer Senator Lugar’s questions on the nuclear issue.
“Sanctions should only be lifted based on North Korean performance. If the North Koreans do not meet their obligations, we should move quickly to re-impose sanctions that have been waived, and consider new restrictions, going forward.
She also made clear the U.S. position that no diplomatic tie will be formed with the North unless the nuclear crisis is resolved.
“Normalized relations will not be possible without the complete and verifiable elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, and an accounting for North Korea’s past plutonium production, uranium enrichment activities, and proliferation activities,” she said. “We must also continue to address North Korea’s human rights abuses, which must be part of any normalization process. [Joongang Ilbo]
WTF? Have we entered a parallel universe? And if so, why the hell didn’t one of you at least have the courtesy to e-mail me?
Then again, maybe we should take this in stride. When trying to predict political behavior, it’s wise to pay relatively little heed to what nominees say at confirmation hearings, more to what they say in op-ed pieces, yet more to whom they appoint to key positions, and much more to what they do. That’s especially true when we speak of a high priestess of the dark arts like Mrs. Clinton, and when Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle includes Madeleine Albright, Wendy Sherman, and Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke, the only one of the latter three possessed of any real intellect or judgment, is burdened by his closeness to — and continued support for — Chris Hill, who must now be the living embodiment of how not to deal with the North Koreans.
On the other hand, one can always hope that the last decade has taught Mrs. Clinton something. In the intervening years, we have seen a lot of well-pedigreed discourse about Kim Jong Il’s latent yearning to rejoin human civilization proven wrong: the First (Clinton) Agreed Framework, the Sunshine Policy, and the Second (Bush) Agreed Framework being only the three most obvious examples. The moment when North Korea has just reneged on a slew of promises seems like an inopportune time to offer new concessions in exchange for the same old promises.
One thing we do seem to have learned is that North Korea had a secret uranium enrichment program after all. That’s a pretty big concession when you consider that denying either the fact or the significance of North Korea’s uranium cheat is essential to any defense of Agreed Framework I, and hence of President Clinton’s North Korea policy. Some A.F. 1.0 defenders had tried to minimize the HEU cheat as insignificant, while others suggested that it was all just a trumped up necon causus belli. So what was it that shut all these people up? Was it the enriched uranium we found on those aluminum samples the North Koreans gave us, or was it the enriched uranium we found smeared all over their “disclosure” documents? Was it the damning admissions of A.Q. Khan and Benazir Bhutto? Or was it North Korea’s brazen 2002 admission, which some had feebly tried to ascribe to a translation error? Maybe North Korea’s 2007 admission that it procured centrifuge components, perhaps? All I know is that David Albright has been strangely quiet recently, and that Mike Chinoy’s book — now there is some really bad timing — was forgotten the week after it was rolled out. After all of the noise, the eerie unanimity of North Korea’s cheating includes William Perry, Condi Rice, and now, Hillary Clinton.
End of discussion, please. Overwhelming evidence tells us that the HEU program exists, which means we’re fools not to demand that the North Koreans admit as much and allow us to inspect it. Only then will we be able to judge for ourselves the scale of the program and the threat it represents, and to put a verifiable end to that threat.
So what will all of this still mean one year from now? If Mrs. Clinton sees an opportune moment to shift her views again then, we’ll at least have the consolation of throwing her words back in her face. For now, take encouragement from her momentary reluctance to show up on the doorstep of His Porcine Majesty with a gift basket of new concessions. Plus, this gives us something else to look forward to: the KCNA reaction. This from one of the few remaining countries where working late still literally means burning the midnight oil. I’m sure this will be good. This may be an early taste, though it doesn’t meet my high expectations. It already looks like the North Koreans may be regretting that endorsement.
From the memory hole: By the way, who else still remembers when Mrs. Clinton diagnosed South Korea, or at least certain vocal elements of its society, with “historical amnesia?” This may be part of why I have a soft spot for her in this role.