Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 19, 2003
WAR: Jaw Jaw

Kevin Drum, echoing many of the Bush Administration's critics, complains that

The unwillingness of the administration to do anything even talk with North Korea really does seem to be based more on personal pique than on a sober assessment of what's best for the United States.

Why has Bush gotten a pass on this from the conservative establishment? Hell, even Clinton did something, while Bush has literally done almost nothing for nine months now, seemingly happy to let the situation fester away until eventually we will be backed into a corner with no options left.

This desperation for some showy display of negotiation is badly mistaken. Really, there's nothing worse in negotiations than showing up just for the sake of talking. That leads to being afraid to walk away, which leads to bad deals, which is what happened to Clinton.

It's clear that Bush recognizes that, unlike in Iraq, our freedom of both military action and diplomatic pressure is hampered by a neighboring great power (China). But getting China to do anything requires two preconditions:

1. The situation gets so bad they can't ignore it.

2. We not be seen as leading the way, so that China not be seen as doing our bidding.

Moreover, any action on our part encourages the North Koreans to think that they are succeeding in inducing panic. In short, for any Bush policy on North Korea -- short of a direct military assault -- to be effective, we must appear to be doing nothing.

Is that really what Bush is doing? We can't know. But I would think that critics of the Administration would at least deal with the reality of the situation rather than making the facile assumption that we're doing nothing simply because we're not doing the same thing we did with Iraq.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:03 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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