Yesterday, Sen. John McCain posted as a guest on Ed Morrisey’s blog, Captain’s Quarters. In it, he says that he’s pleased about the initial reactions to NK’s nuclear “test” (in quotes since nobody’s sure what really blew up…), and that it’s time for the Security Council to walk the walk:
I am encouraged by the Security Council’s swift and strong condemnation of the act on Monday, but the permanent members must now follow up our words with action. We must impose Chapter 7 sanctions with teeth, as President Bush has proposed.
China has staked its prestige as an emerging great power on its ability to reason with North Korea, keep them engaged with the six party negotiations, and make progress toward a diplomatic resolution of this crisis. North Korea has now challenged them as directly as they challenge South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S. It is not in China’s interest or our interest to have a nuclear arms race in Asia, but that is where we’re headed. If China intends to be a force for stability in Asia, then it must do more than rebuke North Korea. It must show Pyongyang that it cannot sustain itself as a viable state with aggressive actions and in isolation from the entire world.
I’ve written about the U.N. Security Council before. They’ve a terrible history of drawing lines in the sand, and then redrawing them… and redrawing them… so I agree at a fundamental level with McCain: the Security Council either needs to put its dentures in and close its mandibles, or take its marbles and go home.
Polimom likes a number of things about McCain, as it happens. While it remains to be seen whether his recent ability to step outside the party line is real, or timed pandering, I’ve agreed with his approach on a number of issues. However, there’s something about McCain’s post that bothers me.
As interesting as it is to see a 2008 hopeful posting as a guest, (blogs have obviously come of age), I was disappointed… because like everybody else these days, he couldn’t go more than five or six paragraphs before blaming somebody else for North Korea’s actions.
I would remind Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush Administration policies that the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure. The Koreans received millions in energy assistance. They diverted millions in food assistance to their military. And what did they do? They secretly enriched uranium.
Prior to the agreement, every single time the Clinton Administration warned the Koreans not to do something — not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor — they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton Administration with further talks. We had a carrots and no sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior. When one carrot didn’t work, we offered another.
He slid right by six full years of another administration.
The accusations leveled by McCain (and others) about how we arrived at this point in time seem to be based on a telescopic lens — and primarily on agreements that went into play in 1994, by a president that was replaced six years later… and six years ago.
Yet here we are today, with a bombastic, ambitious, and potentially explosive North Korea apparently intent on redrawing some maps.
FWIW — My own humble opinion is that Kim John-il was going down this path come hell or high water. Our inability to understand, or intelligibly deal with, China has had more to do with the situation than anything else. I also think that North Korea could see, as easily as everyone else, that the U.S. is — and has been — in a swamp full of alligators elsewhere. No time like the present, eh? Cat’s away and all that…
But suggesting that there might be a combination of factors at work here, or that we’ve reached this point through a combination of policy failures across multiple administrations, wouldn’t play well in this highly-charged atmostphere, would it?