Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | January 06, 2003

The North Korean Policy Bush Could Have Chosen

Steve Soto:

Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution has recently issued a policy brief on North Korea that provides a way out of the corner that President Bush has painted himself in. In it, O'Hanlon lays out a roadmap for negotiations that would obtain not only the renewed international supervision and removal of North Korean nuclear assets, but also a reduction in their dangerous conventional forces.

The approach advocated by O'Hanlon is actually a logical preamble to the untenable and flawed "tailored containment" policy seized on by the Bushies. O'Hanlon rightly points out that the biggest flaw with tailored containment is that it calls for the US to do nothing until North Korea gives up everything, allowing the North to resume development and possible sales of nuclear weapons in the coming months. As O'Hanlon notes, if the North Koreans reject the conditions in the approach, Bush then would be warranted to take up the tailored containment policy, or even have a justification for a military option.

It shouldn't have taken one top analyst at a think tank to come up with a better policy than the one created by the entire foreign policy all-star team of the Bush Administration. O'Hanlon points out all the shortcomings of Bush's efforts towards North Korea so far, and one is left with the impression that a lack of vision, strategic thinking, and policy development plagues the Bushies here.

But one could argue that North Korea is only the latest example of these shortcomings in the media-inflated Rice and Cheney operation. Our recent Middle East policy has been marked by a lack of engagement and based solely on waiting for new Palestinian elections, without any new policy initiatives from this administration. And despite early encouraging words from Bush, Latin America has seen nothing from this administration except a failed coup in Venezuela, a lack of follow-through on immigration reforms, negative comments about Argentina's and Brazil's troubles, and talk about expanded trade. Our troubles with Europe are already well-documented.

Some would say that 9/11 trumps everything else, and we don't have time to tend to all parts of the world. But some of these problems really stem not only from a lack of overall vision for the world, but also from actions taken by this Administration to step back from where their predecessors were heading, with no alternate policy ready in its place. The world's lone superpower hasn't the luxury of disengaging and choosing where and when we want to play, as the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East have shown. And that is why O'Hanlon has the upper hand over the Bush all-star team in this case.

Posted January 06, 2003 05:43 PM | Comments (1)


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