The Corner

Re: For the Record

Mario – All good points, though I’m not sure I agree with all of them. For example, you write: 

This latest provocation is little more than Kim Jong-Il commemorating the U.S. surrender enshrined in Clinton’s Agreed Framework. What’s important is that we not make the same mistake in the case of Iran, a revisionist power with lots to revise.

Two points come to mind. First, you won’t hear me defending Clinton’s record. But, as a basic political matter, I find it hard to believe that if in, say, October 2001, critics of the administration said “Within five years, North Korea will detonate a nuclear bomb” the Bush administration wouldn’t say “not on my watch.” At one stage after another the Bush administration has called for consequences for North Korea and there have been none. I agree entirely that Bush inherited a bad deal from the Clinton administration. But he can’t blame the Clinton administration entirely for what has happened on his watch.

Second, I agree with you entirely re Iran. But when you say we shouldn’t make the “same mistake” with Iran, I don’t see how merely shrugging at the Norks furthers that end. I think how we deal with North Korea now is essential to how we deal with Iran later. Iran is surely watching all of this. If they see a lot of angry words and nothing more, Iran will surely be emboldened even more than it already is.

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