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July 27, 2004

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This is not a Democratic Party that has learned from its diplomacy mistakes. It still embraces Carter and acts as if his diplomatic disasters were triumphs. They don't have foreign policy, they engage in foreign fantasy.

Pot, kettle, black.

So basically your complaint is that Carter acted as Republicans often do?

No: I'm pointing out that this is not a Republican Party that has learned from its diplomacy mistakes. It still embraces George W. Bush and acts as if his diplomatic disasters were triumphs. They don't have foreign policy, they engage in foreign fantasy.

Unless, of course, the Republicans ditch Bush/Cheney at the upcoming convention and get someone other than the current walking disaster area to run against Kerry/Edwards. In which case, I take it all back. ;-)

It's worth noting tha when Bush swooped onto the scene in 2001, N. Korea didn't have nuclear weapons. It wasn't a given; we had small but significant gains squandered at the beginning of Bush's term, and it hasn't gotten better since, even though there have been many more reasons to move N. Korea to the forefront of foreign policy now than a decade ago. I want a regime change in NK as bad as anyone, but Bush, with empty threats, mollycoddling China in ways that Clinton could never have gotten away with, and handling S Korean relations with amazing ham-handedness from Day 1 to focusing on much less pressing pet foreign policy issues, Bush is exactly the wrong guy to have been in office during the critical time on NK proliferation.

Wow

At least I turned on the /political snark/ warning...don't hold back Sebastian.

Are you saying that Carter's buying time in North Korea and Clinton's inability to find long term solutions that capitalize on Carter's bought time are reasons that Bush should be forgiven for having NOT DEALT WITH NORTH KOREA AT ALL IN THREE+ YEARS?

Convenient. But it amounts to the elementary school defense: "Well, Sebastian didn't clean his room either!"

"It's worth noting tha when Bush swooped onto the scene in 2001, N. Korea didn't have nuclear weapons." That would be worth noting except that isn't what the Congressional briefings in 2000 said. Furthermore, even though we aren't precisely sure when they finished the programs, are you suggesting that North Korea did everything between the swearing in ceremony and a few months later? The gains you suggest were purely illusory.

Carsick, is there a difference between Clinton not being able to find a long-term solution when NK was not a nuclear power, and Bush being unable to find one after it was dumped in his lap as a nuclear power? Maybe just a bit? The problem with the Carter approach was that North Korea took advantage of him to buy time so they could make things even worse. North Korea wasn't finished with their nuclear program in 1994. The country Carter bought time for was North Korea. In effect Carter is blaming Bush for failing to solve a problem that Carter not only did not solve, but that Carter actually made worse.

Democrats fail to address the fact that delay can be used by our enemies to make things worse. And the most frustrating thing is having them blame Bush when their own delays bear a bitter fruit. Unless you believe that North Korea had the ability to go from no nuclear program (as demanded by the Agreed Framework) to full nuclear status in the space of less than six months, you can't put the diplomatic failure on Bush.

Edward, I actually don't see any snark in my post. I'm not being snide when I say that Carter's foreign policy was disasterous--I'm giving my honest assessment. I'm not being snarky by noticing that he is laying the blame for his own mistakes at Bush's feet. I'm being annoyed.

it's ever so lovely to hear a man who has garnered more love an respect for this nation than our current one-termer (and his daddy) ever will be treated in this fashion. but when i saw the signature at the end of the post i wasn't at all surprised.

I could dispute some particulars--it's not much harder to blame Arafat for the breakdown of talks and to blame Bush to a lesser extent for malign neglect at the same, than it is to walk and chew gum for example. But you have a point about North Korea, and I am too young to address Iran (though I strongly suspect you're wrong on that one).

The thing is, there's not going to be anyone who both knows about these subjects and has been in a position of authority so that people will listen to him and hasn't screwed up him/herself. Someone has to talk about them, and Carter's criticisms are substantively correct.

I'll grant you, he's better equipped to talk about human rights than realpolitik nonproliferation stuff.

Side note, on human rights: Abdullah Almalki was acquitted in Syria, but the judge has ordered him to perform compulsory military service there. His family says he was abused to the point where he is physically unable to do that, not to mention being forced to stay and serve the country that tortured you, and has asked the Canadian government to intervene.

(Memory refresher: Maher Arar was probably deported to Syria because he'd had lunch with Almalki, Almalki had signed his lease, and Almalki probably named him under torture in Syria.)

Well at least Carter didn't think that invading Iraq under (I'll be charitable here) questionable premises would lead to a domino effect of creating democracies in a region that has only increased its resentment of us.

There's a foreign fantasy.

Carter and Clinton indeed.

"North Korea is widely believed to have produced and separated enough plutonium for a small number of nuclear warheads. Most or all of the plutonium came from the 5-MWe reactor at Yongbyon, which went critical on August 14, 1985, and became operational the following January. The U.S. intelligence community believes that during a 70-day shutdown in 1989, North Korea secretly removed fuel from the reactor and separated the plutonium. Estimates vary as to how much plutonium was obtained. The State Department believes about 6–8 kilograms; the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency say 8–9 kilograms, an estimate consistent with the careful analysis of the Institute for Science and International Security. South Korean, Japanese, and Russian analysts have made much higher estimates, ranging up to 24 kilograms."

"North Korea has never admitted it possesses nuclear weapons, but it appears likely that it does. Nucleonics and NBC Nightly News reported in 1993 that reprocessed plutonium had already been converted from a liquid form to metal, and several U.S. officials concluded that Pyongyang had made it into a bomb. In November 2002, the CIA went further than its previous estimates, stating, "The United States has been concerned about North Korea’s desire for nuclear weapons and has assessed since the early 1990s that the North has one or possibly two weapons using plutonium it produced prior to 1992.""

"it's not much harder to blame Arafat for the breakdown of talks and to blame Bush to a lesser extent for malign neglect at the same"

Notice the implicit imbalance of responsibility--Arafat who walked away from a state in 2000 while negotiating with Clinton is given a similar footing as Bush for 'malign neglect'? Arafat who has walked away from peace for decades under every single President vs. Bush who finally decided to take Arafat at his word? Publically identifying a problem is not the same as creating a problem. Arafat has been the problem for my entire lifetime. Why do you blame Bush for pointing that out? Carter's criticisms aren't on point. He is highlighting problems which the Democratic solution has proven unable to solve and which has proven to make things worse.

North Korea--Between 1994 and 2001, North Korea continued their nuclear programs in direct violation of the Agreed Framework. Clinton decided to trust the paper to protect us and did nothing. Bush said that we wouldn't keep paying the oil for an agreement that North Korea wasn't honoring. Bush identified a problem that Democrats were happy to pretend did not exist. Did pretending make the problem go away? We have six years from 1994-2000 which tell us no. Did the problem get worse? Yes. North Korea went from a repressive nightmare to a nuclear-armed repressive nightmare. What did the Agreed Framework do? It gave them time to build nukes and the money to prop up one of the most evil regimes in the world. If we couldn't stop them from getting nukes, couldn't we at least not have paid them?

And you dismiss Carter's 'mistakes'. The Agreed framework was not a mistake, trusting paper treaties over proven intentions is the hallmark of post-Vietnam Democratic foreign policy.

Carsick, please read the Agreed Framework. It does not allow for nuclear weapons made at any time and the Nuclear-Free Penninsula agreement (which it reendorses) requires the destruction of any nuclear programs or weapons made. Also are you quoting something in particular?

Randy, is Iraq more free now than it was before the invasion? Is Syria more free? Is Jordan more free? The answer to all three questions is yes--which is more than you can say about countries under Carter's wonderful foreign policy regime. Carter paid lip service to human rights while country after country fell into darkness.

carsick, could you please source that quote?

Sebastian, I know this is a pet peeve of yours, but remind me again: what should Carter and Clinton have done differently? I'm especially interested in the whole "spending our money propping up the deeply sadistic North Korean regime" concept, as I recall that at the time (circa 1993-94) one of the major concerns was that a famine-stricken NK, with nothing left to lose, would swarm towards Seoul and Pusan plundering everything in its path.

Given the choice between propping up Kim Jong Il and outright warfare on the Korean peninsula, I know which I (reluctantly) prefer. How then would you have dealt with the situation, especially considering the belligerence, intransigence and just plain insanity of the North Korean regime?

Randy, is Iraq more free now than it was before the invasion? Is Syria more free? Is Jordan more free?

Cite?

Err, the request for a citation should be after the claim "The answer to all three questions is yes", which I inadvertently omitted.

So it's Carter who is to blame for American support of the Shah? All the previous decades, the overthrow of Mossadegh, etc., have nothing to with the case? Is that it, Sebastian?

Or are you offended that an American President supported an unsavory autocrat? As you surely know, the Shah is hardly an isolated case, so perhaps your outrage is a touch selective.

Is Syria more free? Ask Maher Arar . . .

As for Jordan, that's a complete and utter non-sequitur.

Regarding Iraq, I guess as long as you are not a foreign worker or someone working for the Iraqi Government, you might have an argument.

You also completely ignore Latin America. Perhaps you should ask some of those who wore tortured in Argentina's and Chile's torture centers who provided problems for those military governments: Kissinger, Nixon, Ford?

Anarch
Here's one of many sources: http://www.cdi.org/nuclear/nk-fact-sheet.cfm

"The fuel used in nuclear warheads can come from either uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing. North Korea has pursued both tracks. North Korea's uranium enrichment program, were it to continue, could produce highly-enriched uranium sufficient for nuclear weapons in roughly five years, depending on available technology.1 Prior to acceding to the Agreed Framework, North Korea probably produced enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons, although some estimates range to five or six. 2 It is unclear whether North Korea actually produced nuclear weapons with this plutonium. Today intelligence analysts generally agree that North Korea is capable of producing nuclear warheads."

None of this seems to suggest Bush's strategy of closing his eyes and wishing Korea would just go away is working.
Why you see his "policy" as working is beyond me.

Hahahahahahahahahaha

Excuse me, Sebastian, but exactly whose party is planning to renominate the man who (1) stranded the bulk of our military in a strategically worthless boondoggle in Iraq, (2) squandered any gains we made in the initial invasion of Afghanistan by letting the country slip back into the control of warlords with a significant Taliban incursion, (3) first provoked - then allowed to grow - the Sadrist rebellion in Iraq, (4) has done nothing of significance to curb Iranian gains in the Middle East, including nuclear development, and in fact whose foreign policy debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan has only promoted pro-Iranian factions there, (5) has done nothing to curb nuclear proliferation coming out of Pakistan, but in fact has consistently rewarded the Pakistani regime even after the pardoning of A Q Khan, (6) faced with no ability to back up diplomacy with force in North Korea, ended up making the same offer to Pyongyang that Carter made in 1994, and of course (7) allowed al Qaeda to metastasize into a decentralized, multiheaded threat rather than following through and killing it off when he had the chance?

Republicans are not only the party that cheerfully embraces failed foreign policy, they're the party that desperately tries to cover up for this fact with endless strawmen and sophistry.

None of this seems to suggest Bush's strategy of closing his eyes and wishing Korea would just go away is working.
Why you see his "policy" as working is beyond me.

I think what now?

I'm sorry I meant to say, "Why you see his strategy of saying, "But Bill and Jimmy didn't clean their rooms" is working is beyond me."

"In the 1980s, North Korea accelerated its efforts to produce plutonium fuel for nuclear weapons from these facilities. International concern began to focus on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, and in 1985 North Korea, under pressure, signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). North Korea completed the second reactor around 1987. It has a capacity of about five electrical megawatts, allowing annual production of seven kilograms of plutonium — enough for one or two nuclear weapons. 8 In the mid-1990s, North Korea began building two larger reactors with respective power of 50 and 200 electrical megawatts. When the Agreed Framework shut down these plants, they stood about two years from completion. "

Anarch
Apoligies. I was addressing Sebastian and forgot to put his name above that section of the post as I did in the area where I was addressing you.

Apoligies? typo

"Given the choice between propping up Kim Jong Il and outright warfare on the Korean peninsula, I know which I (reluctantly) prefer."

You highlight the RISK of conventional warfare and then ignore the RISK of nuclear warfare.

The choice is between propping up Kim while he is merely a conventional threat and RISKING war but not allowing him time to build nuclear weapons, and choosing to prop him up while he builds nuclear weapons. And on that choice, I risk war by not supporting the regime.

And yes, I keep forgetting. You are all against propping up war-mongering dictators unless they are Communist war-mongering dictators.

Please Randy, you want to bring up recent Latin American history to avoid talking about propping up a dictator worse than Pinochet NOW. Propping up Kim is the long-term Democratic foreign policy RIGHT NOW. Kim is killing people RIGHT NOW. How do you expect me to learn from Pinochet when the Democratic party is willing to prop up a worse dictator RIGHT NOW, and they don't even have the excuse of spreading Communism?

Carsick, China has been involved in the negotiations for the first time in decades. That is definitely progress since they hold actual leverage. Second, even if we can't get rid of Kim now that he has nukes--does that mean we have to pay him to starve people? Also if NK was 2 years from going nuclear at the Agreed Framework, and was nuclear before 6 months had elapsed in Bush's term, were they adhering to the agreement?

to the extent that any president is blameworthy regarding american policy toward NK, there is plenty of blame to go around.

at one point in the Clinton admin (1994?), Scowcroft wrote an op-ed article advocating preemptive war. This despite the fact that both Japan and S. Korea would likely deny us basing rights.

That trial balloon sank like lead. In the pre-9/11/01 world, no one except a few radicals had any appetite for a massive preemptive war.

I'm not sure what the alternatives were for american policy toward NK except engagement. Since Carter did such a bad job, I'd love to hear what he should have done instead.

cheers,
Francis

Did you read my posts?

Um gee, they apparently went nuclear during Reagan's second term. The Agreed Framework got them to stop the plutonium program which was closer to completion. They did change directions at that point and started looking to buy enriched uranium on the open market. Efforts that were sped up during the build up to the invasion of Iraq.

North Korea is fairly opaque so I find it amazing that you can rewrite history in such a way that Clinton and Carter are the only ones to blame.

The choice is between propping up Kim while he is merely a conventional threat and RISKING war but not allowing him time to build nuclear weapons, and choosing to prop him up while he builds nuclear weapons. And on that choice, I risk war by not supporting the regime.

That's a fine abstract position to take, but it's not an answer. What would you have done in 1994 instead of supporting the regime?

And yes, I keep forgetting. You are all against propping up war-mongering dictators unless they are Communist war-mongering dictators.

Bollocks. You bloody well know better than that, Sebastian, and an insult like that should be beneath you. I, for one, am against propping up war-mongering dictators unless the alternatives are worse -- a possibility you seem intent on ignoring. [That is, you credit the possibility of the RISK of conventional war; you fail to credit that reasonable people may disagree on the assessment of those RISKS, thereby dismissing the opposite case out of hand.] In the case of NK, sickening though the proposition may be, the belligerence, intransigence and insanity of the government (regardless of its ideology) coupled with the fact that they've been holding Seoul hostage for the past forty years or so, has meant that the risks of confrontationalism on the Korean peninsula are far greater than elsewhere. Throw in the wild card of Chinese politics, our general inability/unwillingness to understand Asian diplomacy and the specific lunacy of Kim Jong Il and his father's Cult of Personality, and I'm frankly astonished we got any kind of a deal in 1994, shitty or no.

Bluntly, North Korea is a special case on any number of levels, and any ideological position, left or right, that doesn't take its unique peculiarities into consideration is inherently broken. I'm sorry if that's causing you some kind of mental anguish (viz. your remarks on Pinochet below), but that's the way it is: "moral clarity" is an abstract luxury of which we can avail ourselves only by ignoring the complexities of the real world, and North Korea is about as complex as they come.

"It is the repeated Democratic refusal to acknowledge that responsibility often lies with parties other than the U.S. which makes it so difficult for them to take action."

"Carter paid lip service to human rights while country after country fell into darkness."

Consistency, please. I think you're wrong whichever route you go down (American president's fault, not our fault), but at least pick one.

Sidereal, if you want to combine the two sentences seamlessly you get:

It is the repeated Democratic refusal to acknowledge that responsibility often lies with parties other than the U.S. which makes it so difficult for them to take action against those parties. This encourages them to pay lip service to human rights and hide behind paper promises while country after country falls into the darkness.

Anarch, if North Korea is such an impossible problem, why does Carter get to blame Bush for being unable to handle it?

Carsick, I have seen no other source that suggests Korea got nuclear weapons before Bush I, much less Reagan. All Congressional sources I have seen suggest nuclear weapons obtained either right before the Agreed Framework, or a few years after. In ANY case the Agreed Framework should have led to the destruction of such weapons, and as such would not help your case one whit.

Anarch, if North Korea is such an impossible problem, why does Carter get to blame Bush for being unable to handle it?

Because the non-existence of a good solution does not mean all other solutions are equally bad.

And you still haven't answered the question of what you would have done in 1994.

Let me come right out and say that I strongly believe Jimmy Carter is an embarrasment to the U.S. For all his meddling he only seems to make things worse.

Unfortunately, Sebastion you are really wasting your time here. If you notice that most of the remarks don't have anything substantive to offer. Just the same old same old about how bad Bush is.

The idea that NK developed Plutonium in 1985 is about the only thing that really had substance.

I would have ask when their program originally developed.

I wanted to get involved in this discussion but it just seem like a Bush hate fest.

There is quite a bit of frothing at the mouth going on in these posts. Maybe, its due to the convention.

And yes, I keep forgetting. You are all against propping up war-mongering dictators unless they are Communist war-mongering dictators.

[BIG YAWN]

Please Randy, you want to bring up recent Latin American history to avoid talking about propping up a dictator worse than Pinochet NOW. Propping up Kim is the long-term Democratic foreign policy RIGHT NOW. Kim is killing people RIGHT NOW. How do you expect me to learn from Pinochet when the Democratic party is willing to prop up a worse dictator RIGHT NOW, and they don't even have the excuse of spreading Communism?

Please yourself, Sebastian. I was responding to this unsupported comment of yours:

The answer to all three questions is yes--which is more than you can say about countries under Carter's wonderful foreign policy regime. Carter paid lip service to human rights while country after country fell into darkness.

You opened the door to addressing these issues by mentioning Carter's "foreign policy regime." Quit whining.

When Carter was president the Argentine junta and Pinochet's torturers in Chile heard a radically different tune than when Nixon and Ford were in office. Reagan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who never met a right-wing dictator he didn't like continued the Republican tradition of coddling dictators.


I will answer it.

In 1994 we should have only accepted a treaty in which we could have had free range to verify.

Anything less than that isn't worth the paper it is printed on.

Bad people can't be trusted and they can't be coerced... that's why we call them bad.

"I wanted to get involved in this discussion but it just seem like a Bush hate fest.

There is quite a bit of frothing at the mouth going on in these posts"

Did you actually read the thread or is that some kind of macro?

Hello, I said "lesser extent." If you're going to willfully misread what I say, there is no point to this. It's very easy to play these games--"Why do you blame Jimmy Carter and not Ayatollah Khomeini"? But it's an utter waste of time. Bush is responsible for his policies, and as a whole they've sucked. That foreign dictators and terrorists suck a whole lot more is not a very good defense.

MNP:

The Carter Center has played a major role in helping to ensure that a referendum on Hugo Chávez's rule will take place next month in Venezuela

Here's one person's opinion from 1995. He nails it I think:

http://www.wisconsinproject.org/pubs/testimonies/1995/1-26.html

"I would like to close by saying that the best time to confront the North Korean nuclear threat was during the Reagan and Bush administrations. The program had not yet reached the threshold of success, and there was still time for sanctions to work. Both administrations watched the program grow. But they pushed the problem into the Clinton administration. Now the Clinton administration has made a deal that will probably push the problem into the next administration, since that is when a breach by North Korea is most likely to occur. Pushing problems off to one's successor may be tempting politically, but it is a risky way to deal with the spread of nuclear weapons."

I may have been a little off on the Reagan administration (those darned secretive NKers). NK was producing plutonium in enough amounts to build a bomb (or two) during his administration but the bombs themselves may not have been built until the early Bush I years.

"In November 2002, the CIA went further than its previous estimates, stating, “The United States has been concerned about North Korea’s desire for nuclear weapons and has assessed since the early 1990s that the North has one or possibly two weapons using plutonium it produced prior to 1992.”


Katherine, "Hello, I said "lesser extent." If you're going to willfully misread what I say, there is no point to this."

I don't think I misread you. You were implying that Bush was responsible to a large or fairly noticeable extent in the failure of the peace process or why would you bother mentioning it. Am I to believe that you think Bush's part is a miniscule amount? How much of a lesser extent? Why is Bush even largely, or even to an interesting extent to blame for the difficulty in the horribly progaganda-named 'peace process' when Arafat has been central to anti-Israeli terrorism through numerous American AND Israeli administrations. There is a common thread, and it is Arafat. Bush simply said that we wouldn't be dealing with the common thread anymore. That doesn't hurt the peace process at all. It just keeps Arafat from being able to pretend at peace while engaging in war--a distinction that Democrats don't understand with North Korea, don't understand with the Palestinians, and pretty much don't understand in general.

Carter's POLICY and the POLICY of the Democratic party is to allow Arafat to sign agreements while making war. The POLICY with North Korea is to let them sign agreements while building nuclear weapons. The POLICY allows our enemies to gather resources until they feel strong enough to strike. It is a really bad POLICY. And that POLICY is still wholly embraced by the Democratic Party. I'm not blaming Carter. I'm attacking the policy that he has had, that he has not even admitted failed, and still has.

Randy: "You opened the door to addressing these issues by mentioning Carter's "foreign policy regime"

Actually you opened the door with the domino theory. And I repsonded by pointing out that you are defending a current foreign policy that is specifically designed to explicitly support one of the most murderous regimes around. And if you, who insists on making human rights concerns central to your every debate, feel an appropriate response is "Republicans supported Latin American dictators two decades ago during the Cold War" fine, but let us be explicit about it. I as a teenager in the 1980s will accept as much responsibility for the past crimes as you are willing to accept for defending the current Democratic party which advocates its policy. I leave it to you to define how much that is.

Anarch, I already answered about what we should have done with North Korea. Cut off the oil and if North Korea decides to invade South Korea over that we would have to deal with a non-nuclear regime and destroy them. Because of the Carter/Clinton non-plan we are now in precisely the same position except North Korea has nuclear weapons.

The fact that none of you can admit that is a worse situation caused by the Carter/Clinton diplomatic failure reinforces my point about Democrats being blind to the potential for failure in negotiations. For you the only failure is in a failure to continue negotiations. We are in the same situation now as we were in 1994 plus North Korea has nuclear weapons. If Gore had been elected in 2000 he would still be dealing with a nuclear North Korea because they were cheating on the agreement all along.

The nuclear part isn't a Bush failure.

The threats for oil existed under Clinton. Their existance is not a Bush failure.

Bush stopped the oil payments because North Korea was building nuclear weapons. The crisis was not caused by stopping oil payments, it was caused by continuing to build nuclear weapons despite payments intended to stop such programs. That is identifying a crisis, not causing one. The fact that Clinton refused to identify the crisis in 1998 and 1999 does not make the crisis of Bush's making.

Carsick, you seem to have forgotten one little problem with sanctions in the Reagan years. The cold war. NK supported by our cold war enemies. Rmember any of that? Remember anything in particular happening in China 'round that time? Maybe something is a Square, tanks, protestors, massacre. Ring a bell?

pointing out that you are defending a current foreign policy that is specifically designed to explicitly support one of the most murderous regimes around.

That's an opinion and not a fact, Sebastian. No doubt you know the old saying about opinions . . .

Actually you opened the door with the domino theory.

Only in your fantasies. You made the blanket statement about Carter and I pointed out that you were wrong when it came to Latin America. Keep dreaming.

Which part is an opinion? The foreign policy of the Democratic Party with respect to North Korea is and has been to support Kim. Kim is one of the most murderous dictators around. He has a regime in North Korea. Those are all facts.

So it must be the defending... Hmm. This must be nuance.

Now we all know I'm a conservative, so why don't you use small words and tell me what you were doing? I'm sure you weren't just trolling, because you are much to high-minded and intelligent to be a troll. And your criticism of Bush would normally imply to people like me, who can only see things using simplistic concepts like 'context', that Kerry and Carter had much better ideas. Was I wrong? Do you think that the Democratic approach of supporting Pinochet (oops I mean Kim) is not a good approach? How funny that someone who is usually so swift to condemn human rights violations would have to be so coy about sending lots of money to prop one of the worst remaining dictators.

But I guess I can't blame you. It isn't as if we were talking about that. I really shouldn't force you to come up with whole new concerns that are completely unrelated to the thread. I mean if we had been talking about North Korea before that would have been a totally different story....

All this hand-wringing over North Korea's nuclear weapons is almost comical. Any non-superpower state which (a) uses nukes, or (b) makes nukes available to terrorists would be committing quick and immediate suicide. The only "value" of nuclear weapons in the modern world is that they slightly diminish the threat of someone else's nukes. Period.

Do I like the idea of continued nuclear proliferation? Of course not. But, as the only country to have actually used said weapons on someone else, we hardly have the moral authority to decide who can or can't have them.

Sebastian,

Brillian post! Might we be rewarded with a series on Sickening Democrats? Please don't make me wait too long for Kennedy: Marilyn's Assassin as well as Eleanor: Corporate Mining Anarchist and hopefully followed closely by Muskie: Psycho VP Candidate.

It would be nice to have these in addition to the Iran Contra: Foreign Policy for the Future and Seven Sisters: No Fault Oil Shortage kinds of posts, which i find so instructional.

Sebastion
So everyone else has an excuse for their actions or inaction but the last two democratic presidents. Ha ha ha.
Maybe Clinton had to deal with an opaque NK that was assumed to already be nuclear while Taiwan was getting caught in a tug of war.
Maybe the dog ate Bush's homework.

See Sebastian... I told you it was only frothing at the mouth...


Randy,

Carter is an embarrasment. You can't negotiate with people who aren't honest.

lysso

"Any non-superpower state which (a) uses nukes, or (b) makes nukes available to terrorists would be committing quick and immediate suicide."

I haven't noticed Pakistan to be dead on the floor with a suicide note pinned to its chest.
Can tou explain please?

"So everyone else has an excuse for their actions or inaction but the last two democratic presidents."

Nope, I don't think that is a fair summary of a complaint about Carter blaming Bush for the outcome of his own diplomatic failures.

I'm just curious... what people will say.

Can we get a post WW2 list of the most powerful displays of the American government appearing as weak to our enemies? I would like to limit this to examples of our military prowess in action not our economic.

I'll start the list:

Stalemate in NK
Vietnam
Beirut bombing
Iranian hostage crisis
USS Cole
End of Gulf War I

I don't think NK qualifies. I don't think the enemy viewed us as necessarily weak.

FYI, I don't count the Africa embassy bombings or even 9/11. Those were civilian targets.

The end of Gulf War I is an interesting one. I don't think the Iraqi army viewed us a weak, but I feel pretty confident Hussein did.

I would add Mogadishu and the lack of response to the embassy bombings. The bombings themselves are not the issue, like the Lebanon bombings it was the response (or lack of response) to them which encouraged our enemies.

Add to the list:

Failure to support 1956 Hungarian Revolution (after Radio Free Europe promised support)

Lack of response following Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua

Feeble response to Marxist coup in Afghanistan

Feeble response to assassination of Ambassador Dubs in Afghanistan

Let me clarify... I am not looking for political or economic failures... those are too numerous.

Dave, how are those perceptions of our military looking weak. We took no military action. Advisory positions aren't really fighting jobs.

Atleast, I don't think our military saw any action on those instances or it ws miniscule.

I also think the bombings don't count in Africa. I would even take Mogadishu out.

If you listen to the other side talk about the fighting they talk about how our guys fought like hell.

I'm still interested in any others...

"If you listen to the other side talk about the fighting they talk about how our guys fought like hell."

This is where I think you go astray. The perception of weakness is not tied to the fighting men of our actual military. Practically no one denies that in a fight, if actually deployed, our soldiers can go toe to toe with anyone (and in fact have few if any real peers).

The question is of political will. Those who believe that we are weak believe that we will not commit our military forces and if we do so, will withdraw them as soon as even a small number of soldiers start dying.

That is why Mogadishu is appropriate. Of course our soldiers fought well while they were there. But we withdrew immediately after the first sign of our blood being shed, and didn't commit enough forces to protect those who were there.

No one questions our technical ability to fight. Many in the Middle East have doubted, and perhaps continue to doubt, our will to fight.

Sebastian,

"The perception of weakness is not tied to the fighting men of our actual military."

But, I do think there has been instances of that. And I was only trying to focus on that.

I agree that the real question is clearly political will.

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