Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Troubling Blind Spot

The Bush administration's singleminded focus on Iraq blinded it to some pretty ugly things going on in other parts of the world.
North Korea has fired two more missiles, hours after the UN Security Council unanimously condemned its nuclear test, South Korean reports say.

The Communist state fired two short-range missiles off an east-coast base, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an official.

The move came as UN diplomats began work on a resolution to punish North Korea for its underground nuclear test.

Translation: When John Bolton warns George Bush you're doing it wrong, U R Doin It Rong!
In 2002, our intelligence community definitively judged that the regime was working on an industrial-scale enrichment program. Since then we have little new information, reducing the confidence level, but not changing the substantive conclusion, that the North Koreans "have and continue to operate a uranium enrichment program" – as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified in February.

For the Bush administration, however, the lack of new data is an excuse to ignore the entire issue of uranium.

On plutonium, the administration seems content to seek vague statements from the North that "account" for the amount of this fissile material we think it has extracted from its Yongbyon reactor's spent fuel rods over the years. Administration briefings reveal little or no interest in how many plutonium weapons exist; whether there are other plutonium-related facilities hidden in North Korea's vast complex of underground facilities; and what the North's weapons-manufacturing capabilities are.

Proliferation? Perhaps the Bush administration's most wondrous act of magic is to make that problem disappear. The State Department argues that North Korea may have proliferated in the past, but that's all behind us. How do we know? The North Koreans have told us.

Remember this gem of a meme?
Under the final terms of the Agreed Framework approved in October of 1994, Clinton agreed to provide the "Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea" (DPRK) with two light water nuclear reactors and a massive allotment of oil. The U.S. agreed to ship 500,000 metric tons of oil annually in response to the North's pretense that the energy-starved backwater had developed the nuclear facility to generate power. These shipments have cost taxpayers more than $800 million to date - a bargain compared with the $6 billion spent on constructing the nuclear reactors, which now empower North Korea to produce 100 nuclear bombs each year.

All these measures failed to quell the North's atom-lust.

Odds are you won't hear a peep from the right about Bush's complicity in the further development of nuclear arms by the North (absent Bolton's now-year-old OpEd), rather than correctly point out that, of the "Axis of Evil", only Korea had any hopes of developing a nuclear armament program AND legitimate targets to lob them at.

Means, motive, opportunity, the classic tripod on which to hang a conviction in a criminal case apparently holds no weight in the realm of the right wing. We striked out at the country with the least means, the lesser motive, and practically zero opportunity and rattled sabres at the country with slightly more means, slightly more motive, but even less opportunity.

And did nothing about the guy in the ski mask holding a gun at the bank teller window with an open sack.

Smart. Very smart.

What could have been handled six years ago is now looming as a pandemic of pandemonia. The same logic used to invade Iraq could just as easily have been applied to Korea, all the way to the feeble excuse of bringing an international criminal to justice and freeing his citizenry.

Indeed, that charge more applied to Kim Jong Il than to Saddam Hussein. Hussein, at least, never starved his own people, despite gassing large numbers of them.

But now we have what we have, as Strindberg so aptly put it.