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Trump corrects Bush mistake, returns North Korea to list of state sponsors of terror


By —— Bio and Archives--November 21, 2017

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Trump corrects Bush mistake, returns North Korea to list of state sponsors of terror
I’m going to cop to something. I thought at the time it be worth a try as part of a longer-term strategy to stop Kim Jong Il from developing nuclear weapons, even though I recognized the potential pitfalls of the strategy. Yeah, that was wrong:

When President Bush announced on Thursday that North Korea had agreed to offer a declaration concerning its nuclear activities, and further had agreed to destroy its nuclear reactor tower at Yongbyon, it was one of the most carefully worded, qualified announcements Bush has ever made. At no point did he entertain the illusion the declaration was complete or that the North has given up its nuclear program entirely, nor did he intimate in any way that they should be trusted to do so.

He simply said a step is a step, and that the U.S. would keep its fairly inconsequential promises in return. A few North Korean assets are being unfrozen, and North Korea is no longer considered a state supporter of terrorists for the purposes of enforcing the Trading With the Enemy Act. None of this changes the fact that North Korea is still the most economically and politically isolated country in the world.

If, in fact, this is a first step toward an ultimately non-nuclear North Korea, Bush’s achievement is enormously important. The odds are probably still against it, but this is the most concrete achievement the U.S. has had in the effort since North Korean nukes became an issue.

Oops.

Condoleezza Rice wanted badly at the time to make some sort of progress concerning North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and convinced Bush to take the Norks off the terror-sponsor list in exchange for the commitment to destroy the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. Maybe Bush figured that in the waning months of his presidency this was the best he could do, and that it was better than nothing.

In retrospect, it wasn’t better than nothing. Taking them off the list of state sponsors of terror made it easier for North Korea to conduct the commerce necessary to get materials for its still very real nuclear ambitions, and it was less than a year later that the Norks were once again testing nuclear missiles. The concession did no good, and today President Trump took the long-overdue action of rescinding it. Our allies in Japan and South Korea are very pleased with the decision:

The designation, announced on Monday, allows the United States to impose more sanctions on North Korea, which is pursuing nuclear weapons and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

“I welcome and support (the designation) as it raises the pressure on North Korea,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

South Korea said it expected the listing to contribute to peaceful denuclearisation, the foreign ministry said in a text message.

North Korea has vowed never to give up its nuclear weapons program, which it defends as a necessary defense against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, denies any such plans.

 

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In fairness to Bush, while the removal of the terror designation was his mistake, he wasn’t around long enough to see how badly it had failed and rescind it. Barack Obama had eight years to observer North Korea’s misbehavior in the aftermath of Bush’s concession to them, and he had not only the time but more than enough reason to take away the gift the United States had given the Kim regime. The fact that he never did so makes it every bit as much his mistake as Bush’s. It should never have been left to Donald Trump in 2017 to make this call.

Hopefully the Japanese and the Sorks are right, and this additional bit of pressure on Bowl Cut Jr. will weaken his ability to keep testing missiles and developing nuclear capabilities. Anything you can do that helps, you should do. But still have a hard time seeing him put the breaks on his nuclear ambitions, even a little. He’s convinced that having the ability to nuke Seoul, or Tokyo . . . or San Francisco . . . is the only thing kepping him in power.

And he may be right about that. The threat of an attack on one of those cities makes the idea of an invasion to remove his regime highly problematic. Nine years ago North Korea couldn’t launch a nuke. Now they might be able to. And instead of taking action when it was still feasible, we were making concessions to them and trying to get them to deal with us in good faith.

How good an idea did that turn out to be? Not good at all. Trump’s approach is to put pressure on them from every direction and in every form possible. Trump is correct that previous administrations of both parties botched this by putting far too much trust in diplomacy with people who simply can’t be trusted. There is no time left for concessions. And there’s no reason to hang onto foolish ones like this that were made in the past.



Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.

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