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The United States and North Korea — part two (the Bush years)

A few years ago, I wrote this post on North Korea. I was trying to understand what was going on in North Korea and how our response was causing a negative or positive feedback. Because North Korea has strategically jumped back into the limelight, I thought was worth reviewing what I knew or at least what I thought I knew about North Korea. It looks like I hit the nail on the head.

north koreans marching

North Korea

I highly recommend that you read yesterday’s post on North Korea. I looked at North Korea’s history of nuclear interest dating back to late 1950s and early 1960s.

To use a football metaphor, I’m not going to tell you that the Clinton administration had taken a football (North Korea’s nuclear issues) down to the two-yard line and all the Bush administration had to do was to carry the ball over the goal line. President George Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Colin Powell needed to do much more than that. In retrospect, Bush was ill-prepared for North Korea. I have no idea how much he was briefed. I have no idea if alternative viewpoints (outside of the neoconservative line of thinking) were presented to the president. (Here’s a North Korean timeline.)

In my opinion, foreign policy is like three-dimensional chess. There are lots of moving pieces. You need to be very smart and very prepared in order to anticipate your opponent’s move. In foreign policy you are playing multiple opponents at the same time.

As far as I know, there were no high-level discussions about how to approach the North Koreans when President Bush announced to the South Korean president that he was unclear if North Korea was holding up their end of the bargain (the Agreed Framework). He basically stated that North Koreans were liars and cheats and could not be trusted. “We’re not certain as to whether or not they’re keeping all the terms of all agreements.” (NYT) While such a provocative statement would not get a second look in downtown Baltimore, in the world of diplomacy it was a slap in the face. The big question is, if the United States were to break off discussions with North Korea, which was a basic tenet of the “Agreed Framework,” then what? What leverage did we have against a country that is already isolated? Was it possible that we could squeeze China or Russia in order to use their leverage against North Korea? None of this had been discussed prior to Bush’s statement. At least, not to the best of my knowledge. This all happened in early March of 2001. By September of 2001, we were focused on Afghanistan and some in the Bush administration had already begun to focus on Iraq. (more…)

By |2013-04-04T19:01:08-04:00April 3rd, 2013|North Korea, Pakistan|Comments Off on The United States and North Korea — part two (the Bush years)

Obama Derangement Syndrome

One thing is certain. With conservative talk radio and Fox News, a significant portion of our population will continue to blame President Obama for anything and everything. It is his fault that the economy is not better. It is his fault that gas prices are rising. It is President Obama’s fault that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. It is President Obama’s fault that Somali pirates are attacking ships. It is President Obama’s fault that there are devastating tornadoes in the Midwest and the South. Recently, I posted the picture on my Facebook page which showed that I spent over $60 on gas. I mentioned that this was way too much. I received the following response – “Thank you, Obama, for your environmental whacko-ness contributing to this.” Really?

Exactly what was the President supposed to do?

Oil production has increased under this president, as the graph below indicates (you can get the raw data here). Yet somehow this is unsatisfactory to conservatives. I’m just wondering why conservatives were not all up in arms because the same graph shows that oil production decreased during the Bush administration. Where was the outcry from conservatives that President George Bush wasn’t friendly enough to the oil industry?

To me, the bottom line is the President needs to pursue a balanced approach to our energy policy. Yes, we need more domestic production of oil. We need to figure out why oil refineries seem to be a chokepoint and restrict the availability of oil to the American consumer. We need to develop natural gas. Not only is it cheap, but it is also abundant. We need more buses and cars that run on natural gas. We also need desperately to develop more electric cars. We need more hydrogen cars. We need to invest more money, not less, in developing alternative fuels. Finally, until we figure out what to do with the waste, I am not in favor of developing or building more nuclear power plants.

What are your thoughts? Do you have friends who are suffering from ODS?

By |2012-03-09T15:27:00-04:00March 9th, 2012|Big Oil, Energy, Obama administration, Party Politics|Comments Off on Obama Derangement Syndrome

1st Republican debate (update)

I missed the GOP debate last night. Like any good grandfather, I was watching X-Men: First Class with my grandson. I have watched most of the snooze-fest this morning. (CNN has everything that you ever wanted to know about this debate.) Here are a few of my observations:

Michele Bachmann, in spite of her years in the House, will self-destruct. You have to be patient and wait for it. She will say something so outlandish that it will cause almost everybody to the left of Attila the Hun to recoil. We also need to recognize that she will raise a ton of money.

Herman Cain did a terrible job of trying to explain his Muslim phobia. I don’t understand how you can say in a national forum that you’re going to actively discriminate against a group of people because of their religion. It doesn’t make sense. It is racist discrimination based on religion which really isn’t any better than discrimination based on race.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty had an opportunity to stand up and back up what he’s been saying on the trail about Mitt Romney. He has been taking swipes at Mitt Romney over the health-care policy that he implemented in Massachusetts. He tried to soften his language. That was an opportunity for him to show that he was a fighter and would stand up for what he has said on the trail but he wimped out.

Mitt Romney appears to be running the same campaign he ran last time. It is kind of a variation on the George Bush campaign model. Stand tall, smile and don’t say much.

What did you think of the debate?

Update: Here’s what I was looking for. The meat of the debate – jobs and the economy.

What the heck are these guys saying? Cut taxes – we did this during the Bush administration. It didn’t help the middle class at all. Cut capital gains taxes. How does this put money in the pocket of the average American? How? We have cut capital gains twice in the last 15 years. If this magic bullet were truly magic why didn’t it prevent the crash of 2007-2008? Republicans continue to believe that cutting the capital gains taxes for the rich will increase government tax revenue but that hasn’t happened before. These Republicans are simply serving up huge helpings of Reagonomics. This is the same old drill-baby-drill that we have all heard before. The middle class didn’t benefit under Reagan/Bush I/Bush II. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities revealed that a cut in capital gains taxes (back in 2006) would benefit the average the American by pouring a whopping $11 in his/her pocket every year. (You and a buddy can have a quarter pounder with cheese meal with the benefits of cutting the capital gains taxes.) Not one of these guys has a proposal that will help the middle class. Not one. That’s the take home message from this debate. The Republicans are more that happy to shower money on the rich but only $11 for you and me.

By |2011-06-14T08:10:11-04:00June 14th, 2011|Party Politics|Comments Off on 1st Republican debate (update)
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