Cross posted at Penndit.

Something that’s going to need cleaning up.

Nicolas Kristof: N. Korea, 6, and Bush, 0

(1) How many nuclear weapons did North Korea produce in Bill Clinton’s eight years of office?

(2) How many nuclear weapons has it produced so far in President Bush’s four years in office?

The answer to the first question, by all accounts, is zero. The answer to the second is fuzzier, but about six.


In fairness, all this is more Kim Jong Il’s fault than Mr. Bush’s. Right now some administration officials are glaring at this page and muttering expletives about smarty-pants journalists who don’t appreciate how wretched all the options are.

But if the Bush administration had just adopted the policies that Colin Powell initially pushed for – and that Mr. Bush largely came to accept several years later – then this mess could probably have been averted.

You don’t have to take it from me. Charles Pritchard, the ambassador and special envoy who was the point man for North Korea in the first Bush administration, says of this administration’s decision-makers: “They blew it.” Another expert still involved in North Korea policy puts it this way: “Their A.B.C. approach – ‘Anything but Clinton’ – led to these problems.”

A bit of background: North Korea made one or two nuclear weapons around 1989, during the first Bush administration, but froze its plutonium program under the 1994 “Agreed Framework” with the Clinton administration. North Korea adhered to the freeze on plutonium production, but about 1999, it secretly started on a second nuclear route involving uranium.

I thought that these people are supposed to do what’s best for the country.  If distancing themselves from Clinton was more important than facing the reality of the situation in North Korea, then, WTF are taxpayers paying the morons in the Bush administration for?  

My assessment of government officials and politicians is based on what I feel is realistically possible for one to achieve.  I’m a pragmatic person, and it helps to be pragmatic when a poltiical junkie… I don’t get quite as mad when the outcome of a negotiation or situation isn’t ideal.  It’s quite obvious that the Bush administration screwed up on North Korea.  Who cares if their policy on N.K. would have been like Clinton?  As long as it would have gotten us to a better situation than the one we’re in now, then, that’d be a better course of action.

I’d expect a Democrat to avoid “anybody but Bush” governance (which is different from an “anybody but Bush” campaign).  Good policy is good policy.  Of course, there’s not much good policy in ths Dubya administration, but good policies and good ideas should be implemented and followed, regardless of the political ID of the person who came up with the policy or idea.  What’s considered “good policy” still might not be perfect, and things can still go wrong even if a reality-based assessment and solution were a part of the picture…but then, at least, I could say that those involved did the best they could.

I can’t say that with Dubya&Co. on the situation with North Korea.

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