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Administration Caught Dead to Rights Again

09.21.2005 08:37 | DISPATCHES

Optimism surged during the six-party talks in Beijing when North Korea vowed to give up its nuclear weapon program and rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in return for energy assistance from the other five nations and a promise not to attack. It was dowsed when Kim Jong-il's people followed up the next day when they made it clear that their idea of energy assistance was a nuclear reactor. Still, Pyongyang's vow was a step in the right direction.

In his Monday Slate article, "No Nukes Is Good Nukes," (wish I thought of that title), the estimable Fred Kaplan notes that this breakthrough could have been accomplished two years ago. North Koreans have long maintained that they would halt construction of nuclear weapons if the United States provided aid, resumed trade, and pledged not to attack.

The administration, however, claimed it didn't deal with tyrants (like Bush's staff reportedly doesn't like to deal with him?). If we'd agreed to this, Kaplain maintains, the next steps towards an arms-control treaty would have been much easier.

Writes Kaplain: ". . . it wouldn't have harmed our national interest to forgo an option -- invading North Korea -- that we were never going to exercise in the first place. . ." In other words, an administration that, until the appointment of Rice, was diplomacy-averse, totally blew a chance for a major diplomatic coup.


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