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October 01, 2004


Critical Thinker

Hum, parallel talks --- USA & N. Korea, this time.
Isn't this "parallel talks" motif a Kerry trademark?
Didn't Mr. Kerry conduct his own "parallel talks" with the Vietcong in Paris in preparation to his Senate speech of 1971?
This is his experience speaking.

Lurking Observer

I'm very curious, not just about Kerry's position, but that of his supporters: What is it, exactly, that you're hoping to negotiate?

Or, to put it bluntly: What in the world makes you think that anything you negotiate will be something that Kim Jong-il will actually abide by?

And before folks start arguing that Kim Il-Sung/Kim Jong-il actually abided by their previous agreements, I'll just note the little noted (here) agreement signed in 1991, the North-South Agreement, between Seoul and Pyongyang, where both sides agreed to give up all nuclear-related development programs. Kim Il-Jong-il didn't start up his highly enriched uranium program on January 21, 2001, after George W. Bush took office. And he didn't do it as a side-step around the '94 Agreed Framework, either.

Folks here seem as eager to believe that Kim Jong-il really, this time, for sure, absolutely positively, will abide by this agreement as statesmen of another generation believed that "this will be my last territorial demands in Europe."


David Sanger of the NY Times would, I am sure, be far too polite to call me "daft". However:

Mr. Kerry argued that was Mr. Bush's fault though he never made clear what the president could have done differently to prevent the paranoid Mr. Kim from reacting in any other way.

And Mr. Bush, somewhat inexplicably, repeatedly made the case that as soon as Mr. Kerry began direct negotiations with North Korea, the negotiations with all of the North's Asian neighbors would fall apart. He never said why, and there are many examples in which the United States has negotiated with a nation in several different forums at the same time.

He does not provide examples, however. N Korea strikes me as sufficiently unusual that I wonder what examples he has in mind that are rlevant.


What is it, exactly, that you're hoping to negotiate.

Something similar to what Clinton's team negotiated in 1994 and what was ruined by the Bushies as soon as they grabbed the controls - and with disastrous consequences.

The "no direct negotiations" stuff is amazingly silly, I must say - you use all venues that exist, of course. What's the reason to not negotiate? It would be funny if it wasn't so dangerous. The Bushies are playing cowboys, while Kim is baking nukes and missiles. They need to be stopped.

Cecil Turner

"David Sanger of the NY Times would, I am sure, be far too polite to call me 'daft.'"

I am not so constrained . . . but it's Mr Sanger who's lost sight of the big picture. The problem with unilateral talks (or any talks when the PRC is not involved) is that we have no "stick" with which to threaten the DPRK--only the ability to provide "carrots" (positive inducements). (The US has no military options without ROK approval--which would not be forthcoming) At each step of the game, the DPRK weighs its share of future carrots, and decides whether another round of blackmail is in order. Only the PRC can bring Pyongyang to heel, either by direct military threat, or more often, by cutting off badly needed energy aid and making a statement expressing solidarity and providing some friendly advice (e.g., "actions which escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula should be avoided.")

The PRC doesn't trust Kim Jong Il with nukes any more than we do--and they don't want another war on the peninsula--but they are quite willing to let Kim make the best deal possible with Washington. It's taken considerable effort to involve them in the talks so far, and that's only been possible by steadfastly refusing to talk directly to the DPRK and laying the problem in Beijing's lap. Mr Bush is also quite correct they'd drop out in a heartbeat if we agreed to direct talks (or, more likely, simply delay the multilateral talks until the bilateral ones were finished).

For diplomatic reasons, the President can't say that on national TV. But everybody with a clue knows it, and Sanger is either failing to do his homework or daft (or worse, intentionally misleading the public).

Lurking Observer


You say, The Bushies are playing cowboys, while Kim is baking nukes and missiles. They need to be stopped.

That's a lovely argument. I'd agree that the NKs need to be stopped. The problem is, what can you do to stop them. As I noted in my previous comment, North Korea has already broken the commitments it made not to develop nuclear weapons.

Why do you think another round of negotiations will have any impact? Please provide some evidence, and not simply vitriol.

Something similar to what Clinton's team negotiated in 1994 and what was ruined by the Bushies as soon as they grabbed the controls - and with disastrous consequences.

Which failed. As did the South Korean effort (the '91 N-S agreement), as did the Russian effort (the '89 NK accession to the NPT). You'll notice that each succeeding agreement built on the previous one, yet the NKs showed no compunction, regardless of the American president, to ignore that agreement and proceed onwards.

To suggest, therefore, that somehow the '94 Agreement was somehow sacrosanct before the North Koreans, when the uranium enrichment had been going on before Bush II came along, is simply at odds with reality.


It didn't fail. It worked pretty well - NK's plutonium rods were safely sealed and monitored by the IAEA.

You don't know that uranium enrichment had been going on; that's a pure fantasy on your part. All that's known is that NK had uranium enrichment R&D, and even if it had been going on - uranium enrichment is a very slow and laborious process.

What we do know for sure is that now they have processed the plutonium rods that they had - and that's what the 1994 agreement was preventing.

There is no excuse for Bushies' policy (or rather absense of a policy) vis-a-vis NK. They talked tough - IOW they bluffed - Kim called their bluff - and he's won. He now has several nukes. That's all there is to it.

capt joe

Complete bs, abb1. As incoherent as usual, I see.

This whole thing started because a NoKo official admitted that they had been pursuing a weapons program the whole time. The particular monitoring site was a decoy so that they could pretend to be in compliance.

In fact, the Clinton admin was preparing a convential strike against North Korea after 94 but backed down because of the optics of it. and so, the whole problem was punted to the bush admin.

And uranium enrichment rate depends on the technology used. So they could have been producing quite a bit of weapons material. Who says he did not have weapons already by 2000. He had 4 years, access to a success Pakistani program for making nukes, lots of slave labor.

As for calling bluffs, maybe you missed the central premise of the whole story. NoKo said, "hey, we're are making bombs". The US then said, "that's a violation of the treaty, and invoked protections under the treaty". What bluff was called? So either they could do what they did, invade or pretend nothing was said.

That they were good little treaty followers is your (and the far left's) particular fantasy.

I am completely amazed that you are so naive and willing to take the public statements of NoKo as god's truth. But I suspect htat in you moniker "anyone but Bush", you are really saying anyone but the US. So in your strange little chomkyian world view, both Sudan and the North Koreans are just misunderstood and the US is some great Nazi like threat to world civilization. Completely amazing.

capt joe

North Korea is a tribute seeking state. It is completely incapable of surviving without external aid. It was completely funded by the Soviet Union.

When that money dried up, the state almost collapsed. With almost 20% of the populace in the military, what did they do? Why, starve the peasantry, off course. There have been several million people dying of starvation over the last 5 years. This is completely due to the absolute incompetence of the central stalinist state.

Without a regular infusion of food, oil, and cash, it would cease to exist. It has no other options. So it feeds on our paranoia and threatens at every step to "build nukes!, build nukes!".

So because it faces such a wishy washy response, NoKo has decided that it can have both, nukes and food.

Unilateral discusions are a huge mistake. Funny how the left is so for multilateral unless it is NoKo then they want unilateralism

Lurking Observer


In 1994, there were regular reports that North Korea already had 1-2 nuclear weapons. This was a factor in the Clinton Administration's reluctance to go to war.

Another, of course, is North Korea's proximity to Seoul. You seem to believe that North Korea is just hankering to give up its nukes---why? If it can get goodies for its program, why should it give it up, instead of stringing others along? More to the point, given their past behavior, what makes you think that they'd not cheat?

As for North Korean uranium enrichment, I hadn't realized that George W. Bush was President in the late 1990s,, which explains why they were already cheating back then. (And ACA is hardly a right-wing outfit.)

For that matter, neither is the Carnegie Endowment, which noted that, by 2002, North Korea was trying to build a uranium enrichment production facility, not just an R&D pilot plant (which would still have violated treaties).

And whether it's slow or not is hardly material---they were cheating, and they were doing so long before George Dubya came to town.


Kerry also played the "No WMD's" card at one point, then claimed that the danger of WMD's getting into terrorists hands was the result of an unsecured Syrian border. Duhhh.

Another thing I noticed: Before the debate we had McCauliffe begging lib's to help slant the post-debate polls to help Kerry look like he did better than Terry clearly expected him to do. Immediately after the debate, Joe Lockhart, somewhat frustrated, admited that it was a draw in their eyes despite the fact that many right of center bloggers were grudgingly admitting that Kerry handled himself pretty well. Now they are trying to spin that he kicked ass. What's going on here? The Dem's expected him to screw up, and Lockhart as much as admitts that he did so in their eyes. I think he made up the shit about the Global Test among other "embellishments" on the fly and they were internally groaning. Now they are trying to bluff their way out.


I'm a bit confused by Kerry's comments on North Korea... wouldn't ending multilateral negotiations for bilateral negotations be akin to "going it alone"?


""What's the message going to be?" he asked. "Please join us in Iraq for a grand diversion? Join us for a war that is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time? I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with world leaders frequently, and talk to them on the phone frequently. They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."
That point alone killed any headway that Kery might have made. It made the rest of the debate meaningless and deomstrated that Kerry is out in LaLa land when it comes to foreign policy/military strategy.


abb1 is truly abb - any policy Bush has adopted, abb1 opposes. So, if Bush is "unilateral" with Iraq, that's bad; but if Bush is "multilateral" with No. Korea, that's bad too; and Bush needs to stop the No. Korea nuke program, because that's bad; but Bush needs to give the Iranians nuke power becuase that's good. Oh, yeah, I forgot - Bush is a "Cowboy" too. Sheesh. What a freakin' bed-wetter.


Speaking of bed wetting, I forgot to mention that I live on the border between Oregon and Washington, and get broadcast TV from both markets. In the past two days, right after they withdrew their ads in a half dozen "battle ground" states, the Kerry campaign is suddenly spending major bank here in what should be a pair of easy locks for him. At first I was thinking, man, what a bunch of crapola he's spewing in these ads. Then I realized what a move of desperation it is that he has to spend money here this late in the game.


Abb1 doesn't appear to know the first thing about NK or what means exist to influence them.

Talking directly to NK will do no good unless we accede to their demands, which boil down to subsidizing their little terrorist state and helping the leadership maintain their iron grip for all eternity.

What is the alternative? Who is the entity which pulls NK's strings? Without whom their vicious tyranny would crumble overnight?


China, China, China. Any negotiations that do not involve China are worthless. And, China is influenced by threats of other neighboring states going nuclear, too. That is why it HAS to be multilateral, involving all the players in the region.

Kerry's approach is just stupid. It's the same Clinton approach that failed last time. Stupid, dumb, stupid. I'm surprised the man has the mental capacity to breathe.


Reid, the 'smart' one around here, almost as smart as Mr. Bush himself:
China, China, China. Any negotiations that do not involve China are worthless.

Washington Post fact-checking:

"Bush said direct talks with North Korea would drive away China, a key player in the negotiations.

"But each of the other four countries in the talks has held direct talks with North Korea during the six-party process -- and China has repeatedly asked the Bush administration to talk directly with North Korea."


Duh, abb1. What do you think, that China really just has our best interests at heart and has no ulterior motives or goals? Do you have any inkling of the strategic situation there at all?

Obviously not.


The goal for us, young one, is to make China call their pooch to heel. That's the only policy short of outright war that has any chance of influencing NK. Besides all out appeasement and direct subsidizing of NK, that is, of course.


Reid, the smart one:

China, China, China. Any negotiations that do not involve China are worthless.

And here the clever one is categorically refuting the Washington Post researchers:

What do you think, that China really just has our best interests at heart and has no ulterior motives or goals?

Will we have more revelations from the wise one? Let's hope and pray...

Cecil Turner

"What do you think, that China really just has our best interests at heart and has no ulterior motives or goals?"

Yet another non sequitur. The idea that a country has to have the US's "best interests at heart" before we can engage in joint negotiations is laughable nonsense. (I'm sure FDR was thinking something similar: "We can't ally with the Soviets . . . they don't have our best interests at heart.") Neither side wants a nuclear Korean peninsula, and that's quite sufficient as a common goal.


Yeah, right. FDR would never talk to Churchill without Stalin present. Talk about a non sequitur.

Cecil Turner

If you're trying for the same analogy, it'd be FDR not talking to Hitler without Stalin (and Churchill, et al) present.

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