Pyongyang Drafting on the Opposing Winds

15 Jul

Glory Hallelujah! World peace is nigh—oh, damn, !

North Korea told the United States Saturday that it had shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and readmitted a permanent international inspection team, completing its first step toward reversing a four-year-long confrontation with the United States during which the North is believed to have built a small arsenal of nuclear weapons.

But, seriously, buried at the end of the article:

Perhaps the most complex problem facing Hill and North Koreans in coming weeks will be to find a face-saving way for Kim to explain what he did with nuclear centrifuges and other equipment that North Korea is believed to have purchased from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the rogue Pakistani nuclear engineer.

(…)

Hill has also drawn up preliminary plans to open talks with the North over a formal treaty ending the Korean War. That has long been a demand of the North Koreans, and a treaty could begin to pave the way to lifting trade sanctions that the Bush administration has tried to tighten, in hopes of speeding the collapse of North Korea’s government.

I won’t start again about how dysfunctional the Bush administration has been since Day One, and how the White House missed a golden opportunity, by not marketing cabinet meetings as televised mud wrestling matches between executive officers. But, all the laughs end when Noth Korea policy abets the propagation of the unitary executive.

to explain an interesting theory about the Bush administration’s North Korea policy. Returning to the A.Q. Khan network, this line goes, there’s just facially the insulting fact, that the Bush administration never prosecuted General Pervez Musharraf’s Pakistan for Khan’s transgressions. For all the good Musharraf has done for the US in Pakistan, it’s easy to feel shortchanged for the bargain. But then, there’s the Patriot Act 311 provisions against domestic banking, which the Bush administration seemingly crafted into a foreign policy weapon against states, mostly allied, to stymie Pyongyang’s financial dealings. The problem is the number of executive orders drafted to sidestep legislative oversight and public scrutiny. Politically, then, this policy-crafting in secret saves the Bush administration the embarrassment of facing criticism for its mistakes. And, as Beijing’s policies toward North Korea work, the Bush administration can wallow in denial for its conservative base.

Despite hardliner claims, it appears the Patriot Act Section 311 campaign against North Korea sputtered to an ignominious conclusion as Pyongyang’s nuclear capability and Chinese good offices became the driving forces in North Asian diplomacy.

It’s an interesting paradox.

To the hardliners, as the need to compromise with the U.N., our allies, Congress, international practice, and our laws is stripped away by executive order, they can ascend to the pinnacle of objectivity and make the tough calls with absolute clarity, ruthlessness, and will.

But to the rest of us, it looks more like the Bush administration has fallen into an ever-deepening pit of delusion, shielding its deliberations under executive privilege and its actions behind executive orders, not because these policies demand absolute secrecy and freedom of action, but because they are profoundly flawed policies promoted by self-serving and unrealistic bureaucrats…

… and we would be a lot better off if these disastrous tactics could be made to wither away under the light of day and the harsh scrutiny of logic, law, and common sense.

The lazy reliance on Executive Orders to enable the pursuit of policies that were not just unpopular and illegal but fundamentally flawed may very not only define the Bush administration approach to North Korea diplomacy, but its entire legacy.

Obviously, any hint of royalty in government causes me to spout thin tendrils of smoke, but I would be more than willing to reward success. After all, that’s why the president has expansive, yet defined powers. No success, so it’s time to forgive the executioner! The alternative to treating Pakistan as a friend, and adopting a campaign of executive orders, is the NPT. As Musharraf looks ever more culpable not only for coddling Khan, but also catalyzing sectarian violence in Pakistan, the Bush administration’s foreign relations by crony policy seems ever more virally catalyzing itself. And, Pyongyang has exploited both Beijing’s benign policy and US folly to foster its survival.

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