Day By Day

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bush's Diplomacy -- Sophisticated and Successful

I have argued many times that Dubya, MSM opinion to the contrary, has had a spectacular streak of successes in foreign relations. Don Rumsfeld, today, highlighted one of the most impressive.

AP reports:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his South Korean counterpart on Friday hailed a promise by North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, but they also cited "causes of significant concern" in the North's continued development of long-range missiles.
Read it here.

The negotiations are complicated, and dare I say, "sophisticated." The NYT, trying desperately to shift credit for the breakthrough to a Democrat, focuses on the explanation provided by N. Mex. Gov., and former Clintonista, Bill Richardson.

TOKYO, Friday, Oct. 21 - North Korea is "fully committed" to return to nuclear disarmament talks in November and is showing "flexibility" on conditions for obtaining a light-water reactor, an American envoy to the North said here Friday. "They showed me flexibility on the light-water reactor issue," the envoy, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, said in an interview.

Energy-poor North Korea has been seeking the reactor as the price for giving up its nuclear program. The North seems to want the reactor partly to save face for returning to international nuclear controls, Mr. Richardson said, adding, "In my opinion, it is an important issue, but not a deal breaker."

To make nuclear power in North Korea palatable to Washington, Mr. Richardson said, "they would be willing to have the U.S. participate in the fuel cycle at the front and back end."

"What that basically means is that the U.S. could control it, as well as the six parties." The talks also include China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

Read it here.

"So what?" you say, "How is this any different from the agreement negotiated a decade ago by Slick Willie and Madame and soon after repudiated by N. Korea?" Here's how.

Bush wisely resisted overwhelming pressure from Democrats during the last campaign to undertake bilateral talks with N. Korea, as Clinton had done. Instead Bush insisted that all the nations in the region be involved. Finally, that insistence paid off as China, the only nation that can plausibly put real pressure on N. Korea, stepped in to broker the emerging agreement.

N. Korea will abandon its nuclear program and in exchange will get a light-water reactor, but [and this is important] the US will control both the fuel and the byproducts of that reactor.

To seal the deal, China announced that President Hu will personally travel to N. Korea. Reuters reports:

BEIJING, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit North Korea this month ahead of a scheduled fifth round of multinational talks on North Korea's nuclear crisis, Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

Hu's visit will be his first as China's president and is likely to focus on the six-nation talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. The visit follows a flurry of diplomatic activity between Beijing and Pyongyang. On Oct. 8, the Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi met North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il, and she passed on a personal message from Hu, according to the Korean Central News Agency, the North's official mouthpiece. And a Chinese diplomat responsible for Korean affairs, Li Bin, concluded a three-day visit to Pyongyang on Thursday.
Read it here.

Things are moving fast in Korea. The emerging agreement with the North allows the US to dramatically reduce its troop strength in the South. Rummy yesterday announced an agreement not only to pull out troops but to turn operational control of the region's defense to S. Korean authorities [something that the South has long wanted].

Because the agreements involve every major power with an interest in the region, and because China's involvement means that it can be enforced, this might well be the permanent peace that the US has been seeking for half a century. And who is bringing it about? Dubya, that's who.

And, in case you weren't paying attention [who was?], Palestinian President Abbas, after meeting with Bush, declared:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon were guests and not above that country's law.

"We are determined not to interfere in domestic Lebanese affairs," Abbas told reporters at the White House following his meeting with President George W. Bush.

Read it here.

This is a small step, and much remains to be negotiated, but it is welcome movement in a touchy situation. The article also notes that France, the US, and Abbas are discussing ways of disarming the Palestinian militias in Lebanon.

So, just as in Korea, the US is cooperating with other powers with an interest in the problem, to achieve progress toward the resolution of a dangerous situation.

Couple this with his diplomatic triumph over France and Germany, his success with Russia over NATO expansion, his defusing of the India/Pakistan nuclear standoff, his success with Lybia, and a number of lesser triumphs and the "cowboy" has achieved a record of diplomatic accomplishment unmatched by any other presedent in recent memory.

Now, if he could only get some credit for it.

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