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November 4, 2004
Look Who Wants To Chat Now

The re-election of George Bush has resonated around the globe as a message of American determination in our current foreign policy. That message has apparently been heard quite clearly in Pyongyang and may push North Korea back to the multilateral negotiations it disdained during the campaign:

North Korea is likely to return to six-party talks on its nuclear programs now that the U.S. presidential election is over, Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as saying on Thursday. ...

"With the U.S. election over, if the United States pursues an early resumption of the six-party talks, there is a chance that North Korea will respond to a resumption, considering it now has to continue dealing with the Bush administration," Ban reportedly told a closed-door meeting of parliament's foreign affairs committee.

This confirms the handicap that the election placed on the Bush administration's attempts to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. John Kerry and his foreign-policy team -- mostly the same people who crafted the Agreed Framework treaty that Pyongyang broke almost before the ink was dry -- argued for a return to the unilateral approach that failed so spectacularly before. This rhetoric encouraged Kim Jong-Il to wait out the election for a better deal with a new Kerry administration, and made sure his intransigence got enough publicity to damage Bush's efforts to get re-elected. Kim knew that either Bush would have to accede to Pyongyang's demands if Bush wanted to claim progress on North Korea's nuclear proliferation or risk appearing a failure.

Let's be clear on this point -- debating the Korean question during the election was not unpatriotic or unacceptable; my objection was that Kerry was wrong and had chosen to hire all the same people who put us in this mess in the first place. Kerry had to enumerate his differences on major issues with George Bush, and on Korea I think he did so in an acceptable manner. (I have a much different opinion on his handling of the Iraq debate, with his rhetoric of the "coalition of the bribed", "grand diversions", and seizing on every tiny bit of bad news and magnifying out of all possible context to paint pictures of Gallipolian catastrophes.) Pyongyang's reaction came as an unavoidable side effect of open elections and free speech.

Fortunately, Bush stuck to his guns and won his re-election in spite of Kim's attempted extortion. Bush continues to leverage the major powers that surround Kim Jong-Il to force him to negotiate an end to his WMD, the best way for any peaceful solution that might exist to come to fruition. Kim may be the first foreign leader to understand our endorsement of the Bush Doctrine, but he won't be the last.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 4, 2004 2:25 AM

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