The deal is simple: We give North Korea massive energy supplies in the form of heavy fuel oil and they suspend all nuclear activities - even "peaceful" civilian energy initiatives. The Bush Administration is eager to emphasize the fact that all nuclear activities are suspended, not even allowing light water reactors, even though they pose no military threat whatsoever. This meaningless restriction is meant to be the defining difference between this agreement and the Clinton Administration's Agreed Framework, showing that the hard nosed hawkishness of our President Bush has paid dividends. If you ignore this hogwash, the deal is essentially Clinton's Agreed Framework - a gain of nothing after 6 years of inaction.
On the other side of the scale, of course, is the new existence of around a dozen nuclear weapons in the hands of the North Korean government, a "terrorist state." Weigh that against light water reactors and come to your own conclusion about whether this is a victory or defeat for George W. Bush's America.
Predictably, Tony Snow received the following question during the White House press briefing:
There seems to be some conservative push back, I guess, about the North Korea deal. Wall Street Journal editorial page called it the "faith-based nonproliferation." What's your sense about that?The conservative push back was lead by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, of all people:
Bolton said the accord "contradicts the President's policy" of past years.His criticism, and that from other conservatives is essentially a reaction against Clintonism. We've allowed the North Koreans to build a dozen plutonium-based weapons, and we're dealing with it by going back to the same bribe that Bill Clinton thought was the appropriate response. Needless to say, acknowledgements that Clinton was right incense conservatives. They spout the "critics-just-hate-George-W-Bush" rhetoric so fluently because of the animus in their heart towards Clinton.
Further, he said the deal sends a "terrible signal to would-be proliferators," and "for a variety of reason I hope we are able to rethink this."
Looking back at my jotted working title, I have a thought: Am I "blaming America first" here? Am I delighting in our abject failure? Of course not. What has happened with our North Korean policy has made me and my family less safe. I would never root for such an outcome, but it illustrates nicely the depths of incompetence dominating our times.