Whether or not North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb – hundreds of times more powerful than an atomic bomb – or “merely” another atomic weapon, it remains the world’s most repressive, paranoid, unpredictable and arguably dangerous nation.
For three administrations, our North Korea policies failed to do much to contain the threat or mitigate the regime’s behavior. For all of the presidential candidates but one, the question of North Korea is entirely future-based; almost none of them had any position of responsibility for dealing with the rogue regime or setting policy regarding the dangers.
But for Hillary Clinton, the question is not how would you handle North Korea but how did you handle it? The simple and unnerving answer is she chose to ignore it.
Michael Hirsh, writing in Foreign Policy in 2013:
Other pressing issues, such as North Korea’s nuclear program, she simply put off. Her policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea, under which Washington refused to offer any new incentives to Pyongyang in the hopes of restarting nuclear disarmament talks, did not work. The problem festered for four years, and as soon as Clinton left office, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greeted her successor with yet another nuclear test.
Unsurprisingly, this was not her promised approach; in her confirmation hearing, she declared, “Our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear program, both the plutonium reprocessing program and the highly enriched uranium program.”
Even worse, her husband – who, as president, approved a plan to give $4 billion in aid to North Korea in exchange for broken promises – wanted to accept a paid speaking gig from the North Koreans:
Mr. Clinton was paid for more than 200 speeches while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, according to his wife’s disclosure forms. Documents released thus far by the State Department show the ethics office turned down five of his speech requests, including proposed talks sponsored by North Korea, China and the Republic of Congo.
Bill Clinton doesn’t look across the Demilitarized Zone and see a threat; he sees cash.