Jack Kelly, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an analysis of the past failed policies that led up to North Korea getting nuclear weapons (assuming they actually have done so, of course). His opening lines set the stage:
If Democrats went after America's enemies with the ruthlessness with which they attack Republicans, the Axis of Evil would be toast.
No sooner had North Korea completed its (botched or faked) nuclear bomb test last weekend than Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., were blaming it on "the failed policies of the Bush administration."
Kelly then proceeds to knock those charges down – hard.
Two experts told a House committee in April of 2000 that North Korea was producing enough highly radioactive material then to build a dozen bombs a year, but it is unclear when the North actually built a bomb (if yet) because our intelligence on the reclusive regime there is so poor.
Most experts think North Korea restarted its nuclear weapons program between 1997 and 1999, said Paul Kerr of the Arms Control Association. But the Congressional Research Service thinks the North began cheating in 1995.
Signs of cheating were abundant by 2000. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright flew to Pyongyang that October to put lipstick on the pig. She offered dictator Kim Jong Il a relaxation of economic sanctions if he'd limit North Korea's missile development. Kim took those carrots too, but kept building missiles.
The Bush administration called North Korea on its cheating and suspended fuel aid pending an improvement in its behavior. North Korea declared (in 2002) it had the bomb, and the United States organized the six-party talks to try to persuade it to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Like Mr. McCain, I thought the Agreed Framework was a bad idea from the get-go. But I don't blame the Clinton administration (very much) for trying. Massive bribery hadn't been tried before, and if it had worked, it certainly would have been preferable to war. And, since as far as we know, serious cheating didn't begin until 1997 or 1998, it can be argued the deal did buy us a little time.
But even though the ultimate failure of the Clinton policy of appeasement is excusable, the refusal of Democrats to acknowledge that failure is not.
There are calls to reward North Korea for its bad behavior already from many of the usual suspects. Kofi Annan urged the US to enter unilateral talks. So have many on the left. They fail to see that the policies of the Clinton administration failed completely. Or worse, they know it, but refuse to acknowledge it. Kelly is dead right here: the refusal to acknowledge the failures are inexcusable. The Democrats had better start thinking seriously how to address the real issues here instead of simply playing partisan politics. It's time to try going after the real enemies of the US, not the opposing political party.