US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin seems directly correlated to his hostility toward America. The more hostility he shows, the more she seems to like him. In this vein, Rice defends her support for Russian inclusion in the G-7, (now G-8), by arguing that it enables the club of industrial democracies to "influence" Putin.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, former world chess champion and current leader of Putin's liberal political opposition Gary Kasparov responded ironically to Rice's notion. "Occasionally you have to look at the results of your brilliant theories," he said.
But as the date of her departure from office approaches, Rice's unwillingness to examine the results of any of her brilliant theories only increases. Take North Korea for example.
On Thursday, a delegation of American nuclear inspectors traveled to North Korea to inspect the "disablement" of the nuclear installation at Yangbyon. Speaking of their mission and of the status of US-North Korean relations to the press on Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who serves as the chief negotiator with North Korea, said that aside from some technical matters, the US has no outstanding issues with the Stalinist dictatorship in Pyongyang. In his words, "I don't think there is anything to be resolved. There will be technical issues, but I don't think we have any political issues."
This US position on North Korea is disconcerting. From 1994 until the present, the North Koreans have breached every single agreement they have made with the Americans. Indeed, according to the agreement that Hill himself reached with them in February, they were supposed to dismantle their nuclear complex at Yangbyon seven months ago.
Rather than abide by their word, the North Koreans, as is their wont, ignored it and demanded and received further concessions from the Americans after they signed the deal. Among other things, they were supposed to dismantle the Yangbyon installation. Now, due to their post-agreement brinkmanship, they are only supposed to disable it -- whatever that means.
Given the North Koreans' abysmal track record, it is far from clear why Hill thinks they can be trusted now. But beyond that, it isn't even clear that dismantling or disabling Yangbyon today will make much difference. As former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton wrote in August, Yangbyon ceased to be the central component of North Korea's nuclear weapons program several years ago. In recent years Pyongyang scattered its nuclear program to secret sites both inside and outside the country. And those sites are overlooked in Hill's agreement.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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