There was a magnitude 4.2 seismic event in North Korea today, in a place with no history of seismicity in the past 17 years, and not rated as being an area of seismic hazard. And note the depth of the event: 0.0 km -- on the surface!
I'm so glad that the attention of our leaders and the bulk of our military assests are tied up with the war in Iraq and the upcoming confrontation with Iran (over the possibility that they might get nuclear weapons, if I recall correctly), leaving very little in the way of stick to use in negotiations with North Korea (one of the "axis of evil," if memory serves) -- if the Bush Administration had any interest in controlling and containing dangerous countries instead of knocking them off.
Update: Hey, I know ... Let's make a list of all of the Bush/Cheney administration's successes! That ought to be fun!
Afghanistan - Job unfininshed, slipping back into narco-warlordism
Osama bin Laden - Uncaptured!
War in Iraq - Unjustified and unwinnable
North Korea - Undeterred!
Europe and the rest of the West - Unfriendly
Darfur - Genocide rages, nothing done
The rest of Africa - Nothing done there, either
Global warming - Denied and ignored
Katrina - New Orleans sacrificed on the altar of incompetence
I forgot how enervating and discouraging this game quickly becomes. The real question is: how can any rational and reasoning adult who's not a bona fide client of the Bush Administration or an ideological soulmate uninterested in results in the real world remain a supporter of these imbecilic and incompetent dolts?
North Korea's nuclear program has been a problem for US presidents going back to Reagan, and the conflict between North and South has been a key issue for US presidents going back to Truman. As recently as 1994, the US came far closer to war with North Korea than most Americans realize.
President Clinton eventually concluded a complicated and multipart agreement in which the North Koreans would suspend their production of plutonium in exchange for fuel oil, help building light water nuclear reactors (the kind that don't help making bombs) and a vague promise of diplomatic normalization.
President Bush came to office believing that Clinton's policy amounted to appeasement. Force and strength were the way to deal with North Korea, not a mix of force, diplomacy and aide. And with that premise, President Bush went about scuttling the 1994 agreement, using evidence that the North Koreans were pursuing uranium enrichment (another path to the bomb) as the final straw.
Remember the guiding policy of the early Bush years: Clinton did it=Bad, Bush=Not whatever Clinton did.
All diplomatic niceties aside, President Bush's idea was that the North Koreans would respond better to threats than Clinton's mix of carrots and sticks.
Then in the winter of 2002-3, the US prepared the invade Iraq, the North called Bush's bluff. And the president folded. Abjectly, utterly, even hilariously if the consequences weren't so grave and vast.
Threats are a potent force if you're willing to follow through on them. But he wasn't. The plutonium production plant, which had been shuttered since 1994, got unshuttered. And the bomb that exploded tonight was, if I understand this correctly, almost certainly the product of that plutonium uncorked almost four years ago.
So the President talked a good game, the North Koreans called his bluff and he folded. And since then, for all intents and purposes, and all the atmospherics to the contrary, he and his administration have done essentially nothing.
Talking tough is great if you can make it stick and back it up; it is always and necessarily cleaner and less compromising than sitting down and dealing with bad actors. Talking tough and then folding your cards doesn't just show weakness it invites contempt. And that is what we have here.
The Bush-Cheney policy on North Korea was always what Fareed Zakaria once aptly called "a policy of cheap rhetoric and cheap shots." It failed. And after it failed President Bush couldn't come to grips with that failure and change course. He bounced irresolutely between the Powell and Cheney lines and basically ignored the whole problem hoping either that the problem would go away, that China would solve it for us and most of all that no one would notice.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.