Wednesday, October 11, 2006

President Bush's North Korean delusions

President Bush, answering a question today about whether the Administration's policies toward N. Korea have failed (as quoted by the NY Times):

I can remember the time when it was said that, The Bush administration goes it alone too often in the world, which I always thought was a bogus claim to begin with. And now all of a sudden, people are saying, you know, The Bush administration ought to be going it alone with North Korea.

At this point, two questions must be asked: who is advising the President, and where does he get his crack? Seriously, is anyone seriously contending the Bush Administration should be "going it alone" with North Korea? The Democrats aren't. The Republicans aren't. The U.N. isn't. In fact, I can't think of a single reputable entity or person that believes the U.S. can unilaterally deal with a nuclear North Korea -- virtually everyone believes that the Chinese are critical, followed by Russia, Japan, and South Korea, to whatever next steps are taken to contain the threat of Kim Jong Il nuking his neighbors, or selling fissionable plutonium to his neighbors.

So what the hell is President Bush talking about? His comment suggests some deep delusion about his perception of himself, our country, and the reaction to North Korea's nuclear test. At this point, it's fair to ask whether he grasps reality, or is completely disconnected from what's happening in the world.


Not long afterward, the press conference included this charming exchange:

QUESTION: What about the red line, sir? [As in, what is the red line that North Korea cannot cross before the U.S. will have to take drastic measures -- pretty serious question, no?]

BUSH: Well, the world has made it clear that these tests caused us to come together and work in the United Nations to send a clear message to the North Korean regime. We're bound up together with a common strategy to solve this issue peacefully, through diplomatic means.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

BUSH: If I might say, that is a beautiful suit.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. My tailor appreciates that.

BUSH: And I can't see anybody else who even comes close.


Glad he's in a joking mood right. Funny stuff. Oh wait, it's not funny, and we're facing nuclear holocaust. My bad.


Now watch as someone from the Washinton Post asks a devastating question, and Bush gives an incomprehensible answer:

QUESTION: You said yesterday, in your statement, that the North Korean nuclear test was unacceptable. Your chief negotiator for the six-party talks said last week that North Korea has a choice, of either having weapons or having a future. When you spoke, a month or so ago, to the American Legion, you talked about Iran and said: There must be consequences for Iran's defiance and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

I'm wondering, sir -- your administration has issued these kinds of warning pretty regularly over the last five years. And yet these countries have pursued their nuclear programs.
I'm wondering: What is different about the current set of warnings? And do you think the administration -- our government runs the risk of looking feckless to world by issuing these kinds of warnings regularly without response from the countries?

BUSH: That's a fair question. First of all, I am making it clear our policy hadn't changed.
It's important for the folks to understand that we don't continually shift our goals based upon, you know, polls or whatever.

[Note: this has nothing to do with the question asked]

See, I think clarity of purpose is very important to rally a diplomatic effort to solve the problem. And so I try to speak as clearly as I can and make sure there's no ambiguity in our position. I also found that's a pretty good way to help rally a diplomatic effort that I believe will more likely work.

[Note the nonclarity and patent ambiguity in the preceding paragraph -- ah, sweet irony]

I know this sounds just saying it over and over again, but it's -- rhetoric and actions are all aimed at convincing others that they have an equal stake in whether or not these nations have a nuclear weapon, because I firmly believe that that is the best strategy to solve the problem.

[Note, once again, this has nothing to do with the question -- "are we making hollow threats?" -- but instead seems to recommit the U.S. to a diplomatic solution]

I mean, one has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards. It is much easier for a nation to hear what I believe are legitimate demands if there's more than one voice speaking. And that's why we're doing what we're doing.

[Note that (a) Bush seems to have no idea how games with cards are played, and (b) he still hasn't answered the question -- he's still trying to figure out a response]

And to answer your question as to whether or not the words will be empty, I would suggest that, quite the contrary, that we not only have spoken about the goals, but as a result of working together, our friends, Iran and North Korea are looking at a different diplomatic scenario.

[Aha! Bush finally takes a stab at answering the question. Problem is, it's a complete lie. Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon, and North Korea just detonated one. So while I'm sure the two countries are intrigued by the different "diplomatic" scenario they face, the threats we've made have deterred them not one iota. Unbelievable.]


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