Reporter's Notebook

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“Foreign” Policy

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This has nothing to do with interviews.  I’ll always try to make that disclamer in advance of a general rant.

The announcement this morning about North Korea’s successful test of a high yield, small sized nuclear weapon sent the diplomatic community worldwide into a tizzy.  It was “shocking” and a “violation” of warnings against pursuit of a weapons program by the international community.  “The Game is Changed” as one commenter said on one of the morning talk shows.

Really?

In 2005, when Barack Obama was making his debut as guest speaker at the Democratic National Convention, North Korea had just made it’s first test of a nuclear device.  It was what was called at the time “a fizzle.”  Tom Clancy fans know that means it was a bomb that didn’t blow up the way it was supposed to.

Pundits and strategic analysts at the time ridiculed the North Koreans, saying their program was “decades” away from anything of consequence.  Yet, the world was still reverberating from the news that a Pakistani engineer had sold nuclear secrets to Iran, and North Korea on how to build and deliver better bombs.  He was made a hero at home despite howls from the West to try and punish him for providing material support to terrorist regimes.

Then, there were all of those test launches by the North Koreans.  Their announcement of their development of a long range ballistic missile that might reach California.  Their test firing of a missile over Japan.  And a second nuclear test.

And now, a successful test.  Suddenly, it’s a crisis only seven years after the first warning, and only 19 years after President Clinton tried to veer the North Koreans away from heavy water to light water reactors and their much earlier thrust toward the bomb.   Suddenly, the North Koreans have the clout they have as relentlessly pursued as have the Iranians and the Pakistanis before them.  These regimes believe that only when they have the potential to deliver nuclear bombs do they get the respect they say they deserve and our foreign policy proves them right.  Yet, in the course leading up to their development, our government, for some reason, seemed powerless to stop them.

I understand the whole “sovereignty of nations” thing.  For us in the West, it’s an extension of the supremacy of the individual as is described in our Constitution.  It’s what the charter of the United Nations is based on … if sovereign nations can run roughshod over other sovereign nations, regardless of whether they’re international pariahs, then no nation is safe and by extension, at least here in the US, no individual is safe either.  The whole “internal affairs” argument countries use to keep other countries out of their murderous affairs breaks down if a higher moral imperative starts getting thrown around since, you never know when somebody might use the same arguement against your government.  The refusal of the United States to be a participant in the International Criminal Court and thus, subject to the valuation of governments it may consider less legitimate is an excellent example of that concern.

But now the most unstable regime on Earth is starting to look like the savviest – the jester with a gun.  The government that was berated and held at arms length as too smelly to be admitted to the table of “civilized” countries now has a working nuclear weapons program.  As the West hand ranged, lost inside of its own sturm and drang, the North Koreans puttered along like the little reactor that could.  And unless the Chinese, who by the way, don’t necessarily like the equivalent of a crazy person sleeping in their basement; unless they use whatever clout they have to tamp down North Korea’s lust for power and respect, they’ll be just as nervous and miserable as the rest of us.

Why no Stuxnet for Pyongyang?  Didn’t they have centrifuges too?  I mean, for them to get this far (further than the Iranians, apparently), didn’t they need have to have had a bunch of them spinning for years already?  But not a peep in the media.  Why not?

Foreign policy.  It certainly is.

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Written by Interviewer

February 12, 2013 at 23:50

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