Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jimmy Carter, Still A Sanctimonious Idiot

The moron writes:
Desiring to resolve the crisis through direct talks with the United States, Kim invited me to Pyongyang to discuss the outstanding issues. With approval from President Bill Clinton, I went, and reported the positive results of these one-on-one discussions to the White House. Direct negotiations ensued in Geneva between a U.S. special envoy and a North Korean delegation, resulting in an "agreed framework" that stopped North Korea's fuel-cell reprocessing and restored IAEA inspection for eight years.

With evidence that Pyongyang was acquiring enriched uranium in violation of the agreed framework, President George W. Bush - who had already declared North Korea part of an "axis of evil" and a potential target - made discussions with North Korea contingent on its complete rejection of a nuclear explosives program and terminated monthly shipments of fuel oil. Subsequently, North Korea expelled nuclear inspectors and resumed reprocessing its fuel rods. It has acquired enough plutonium for perhaps seven nuclear weapons.

FLG sees. So, North Korea violated the framework, but it was Bush's fault that things turned sour.

This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with the proviso that my visit would last long enough for substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They spelled out in detail their desire to develop a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms adopted by the six powers in September 2005. With no authority to mediate any disputes, I relayed this message to the State Department and White House. Chinese leaders indicated support of this bilateral discussion.

FLG sees. So, North Korea says it wants to deal, but Carter didn't have any authority. Well, there's a reason nobody gives you authority any more, Mr. President, you're a gullible moron who would give away the farm at the slightest hint that people will hold off on violence for ten seconds.

North Korean officials have given the same message to other recent American visitors and have permitted access by nuclear experts to an advanced facility for purifying uranium. The same officials had made it clear to me that this array of centrifuges would be "on the table" for discussions with the United States, although uranium purification - a very slow process - was not covered in the 1994 agreements.

FLG sees. Look how reasonable the North Koreans are. They're even open to discussing things not covered in the 1994 agreement. Hey, dumbfuck! The violated the agreement with that uranium enrichment plant, in spirit if not in letter.

Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the "temporary" cease-fire of 1953. We should consider responding to this offer. The unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take whatever actions they consider necessary to defend themselves from what they claim to fear most: a military attack supported by the United States, along with efforts to change the political regime.

Mr. President, are you really this fucking stupid? Throughout your entire Op-Ed you insinuate that America was the unreasonable party and North Korea is perfectly reasonable and willing to deal, if only the Americans would wake up. That's fucking stupid. Everybody, and FLG means everybody, even the Chinese, thinks the North Koreans are unreasonable nutjobs.

FLG realizes that you have short-time horizons and so in your natural analytical framework you only see proximate causes and weigh the possibility of conflict extremely highly. FLG hates to break this to you, but you're a sucker. North Korea is dicking us around. Has been dicking us around. And you are the person they love to dick around most. Because you are a gullible idiot who should stay out of international politics entirely and focus on Habitat for Humanity. You make us less safe in the long run, Mr. President, because, well, you're a fucking idiot.


Anonymous said...

Team America still provides the best insight.

Alan Howe said...

My only complaint with Carter's piece is that he presents a very false equivalency between the accomplishments of the Clinton administration and the failures of the Bush administration regarding North Korea's nuclear program. Fred Kaplan sums it up nicely.

Anonymous said...

My wife worked in an executive department in late Carter, and they sent a 100-page report over to the White House about an urgent going-to-be-front-page decision the EOP had to make the next day. It came back with the typos circled. dave.s.

Alan Howe said...

A Post story and NYT editorial both argue that China has the most influence with North Korea. Bunk! We do. China is a friend to the monarchy, we threaten hereditary rule. Indeed, the only meaningful restraint on the monarchy came when we bluntly asserted that the kingdom would be shut down if they did not cooperate (1994). The arrival of our small carrier group in the Yellow Sea will do more to change the dynamics than any coddling by China. As Carter notes, N. Korea responds primarily to our actions and fear of our actions--as they should.

FLG said...


Your analysis is seriously suspect.

According to the CFR, "China is North Korea's most important ally; biggest trading partner; and main source of food, arms, and fuel."

Moreover, they argue:
Beijing continues to have more leverage over Pyongyang than any other nation, say analysts. The economic leverage in particular, some point out, has only grown as a result of North Korea's declining relations with South Korea and the international community. But most experts agree that Beijing is unlikely to exercise its leverage given its concerns regarding regional stability and the uncertainty surrounding regime succession in North Korea.

The US only has the most influence if you assume China does nothing, which is to say they don't exercise their influence. Not exercising and not having are two vastly different things.

Hopefully, China will wake up and realize that the risks of destabilization after cutting off the regime at a time of their choosing is better than destabilization coming as a result of North Korea's belligerence.

Alan Howe said...

Arguing that China is more influential in Pyongyang is like arguing that England was more influential in Washington DC than the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Simply. Not. True.

We, alone, pose an existential threat to the North Korean monarchy, and we pose that threat whether we are steaming ships toward the Yellow Sea, as we are today, or sitting across from North Korean diplomats making friendly gestures. The monarchy knows this at all times as they should. China has influence as a friend, to be sure. They can, as some argue this morning, help the monarchy understand that they are approaching an abyss. But, WE ARE THE ABYSS!

FLG said...


Just to clarify.

Your argument is that the country that is North Korea's "biggest trading partner; and main source of food, arms, and fuel" doesn't have the most leverage over North Korea?

Alan Howe said...

If your employer begged you not to wave around a red cape in a bull ring, would your decision to continue or to stop depend upon your employer's argument or the presence of a bull?

China calls the North Korean monarch's attention to the danger, but it is the danger that will determine its actions. China, for example, is not the reason North Korea has such a large military. It is not the reason North Korea has a nuclear weapons program and a fortified southern border.

The important decisions in North Korea, the big decisions, are focused on survival of the monarchy and, therefore, influenced primarily by the lone existential threat, just as our largest trading partners had less influence over our decisions than did the Soviet Union.

China's influence depends on, and is secondary to, our influence.

FLG said...

I see now. It depends on how you use the word influence.

Yes, the US has more impact, and in particular visible impact, on North Korean policy, but only because China refuses to use its influence. China could, without firing a shot, end the regime by cutting of supplies. Or it could seriously influence policy by cutting off supplies. The route to a peaceful end to the Korean conflict is through China.

You need to entertain the idea that even though a strong argument can be made that any particular case of North Korea action or policy is a response to US policy or actions, that doesn't explain the overall arch.

The US hasn't torpedo'd a North Korean ship, shelled its land, or done anything like that. Sure, it's led international sanctions against the country, but it hasn't made any moves to end the regime through force.

Now, you could say, hey, that's the only option available to North Korea. Or that they're simply irrational and impetuous, which we need to realize. But that lets the off the hook and places blame at the feet of the US unnecessarily.

The simple fact is that North Korea is run by an evil little man who would be an evil little man with or without the US involvement in the region. Rationalizing North Korea's crazy actions every time as some response to the US is always possible, but also foolish and misses the bigger picture.

Kim Jung-Il is an evil little bastard who ought to be removed from power. I guess there's an argument that if it weren't for the US, then Kim Jung-Il would be more like Mugabe, a threat only to his own people, but I don't 1) know that the alterantive reality is actually true and 2) there are too many historical and geopolitical factors at play to ignore the DPRK like Mugabe.

Alan Howe said...

I think the monarchy is primarily a threat to its people (like Mugabe) because of the threat from the US. We allow it to abuse the North Koreans only. If we did not pose an existential threat, North Korea would move against South Korea and Japan for the reasons you cite: the North Koreans are (largely) irrational (self-deluding, actually) and hell-bent for conquest.

We should also note that China's influence is increased by US animosity. That is, if we did not push international sanctions, China would not be a (often, the sole) lifeline to the regime.

Of course, as I am sure you note, there is a circle here: North Korean belligerence begets US threats which begets support from China which supports North Korean belligerence...and so on as has been the case for sixty years. There are many ways to break the chain (most appealing: China cuts the monarchy loose forcing them to behave), but the abyss, the bull, the most important link in the chain, is our existential threat to the regime. So, we have arguments over responses to North Korea's provocations. Laughing at the monarchy's puny nuclear weapons program is one option ("Wanna see a REAL explosion?"). Threatening their obliteration is another. Both rest on North Korea's fear of us.

I argued years ago that we must present the monarchy with an ultimatum: We will accept your rule or nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula but not both. That remains the best approach as far as I can tell. If a puny monarchy can get away with provocative sabre-rattling, I expect we can, too. We cannot strike effectively against the regime's nuclear facilities, but we can eliminate their hold over the country. China's warnings and pleadings to North Korea come from their fear that we will do precisely this.

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