Even this laughable threat will prove to be an empty one if no real effort is expended to detect North Korean misrepresentations. The Rice-Hill team have systematically cut out the State Department’s own verification professionals under Assistant Secretary Paula DeSutter. Instead, in a maneuver reminiscent of the now-notorious decision to send diplomat Joe Wilson to ferret out the truth about Saddam Hussein’s alleged uranium purchases in Africa, Foreign Service Officers are being dispatched to go through the motions of “verifying” the latest deal.
The worst of it is that so little is being bought at such a high cost. Mr. Hill is determined to have North Korea removed from the State Department’s state-sponsor of terrorism list and relevant provisions of the Trading with the Enemy act. He evidently seeks to do so the moment Pyongyang serves up its incomplete and unproven declaration, possibly as soon as Friday.
It is obvious why North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is so keen on securing these U.S. concessions. He knows they will clear the way for infusions of foreign investment from companies anxious to exploit his nation’s vast slave-labor work force – providing desperately needed life-support for a regime President Bush once rightly said he “loathed.”
What is less apparent is why is Foggy Bottom pushing so hard to dismantle, as a practical matter irreversibly, the most important sources of U.S. leverage on the North? It is not as though North Korea is out of the terrorism business; its ongoing help to the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and Syria constitutes the ultimate in state-sponsored terrorism. After all, the former has repeatedly declared its intention to wipe Israel off the map and bring about a world without America. And the threat posed by the latter will finally be disclosed to Congress on Thursday in a classified briefing on the September 2007 Israeli raid aimed at countering the Syrian-North Korean nuclear joint venture.
The easy explanation for Chris Hill’s impatience is that he is a veritable poster child for the State Department affliction known as “clientitis.” He pushes for whatever the North Koreans demand, without regard for U.S. interests.
Another factor, though, may be the progress now being made to enable millions of Americans to invest “terror-free.” Thanks to recent steps by the Financial Times Stock Exchange, Conflict Securities Advisory Group and Northern Trust (among a growing number of other investment houses), such investors will soon be able easily to ensure that their portfolios do not include publicly traded companies that do business with North Korea or other officially designated state-sponsors of terror. Kim Jong-Il pitched a fit when the U.S. Treasury froze $25 million in one of his accounts in Macau two years ago; imagine his upset if the billion dollar capital infusions he expects to flow his way are threatened.
Mr. Bush was reportedly told last week by his Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Mike McConnell, that the U.S. intelligence community does not believe the regime in Pyongyang will denuclearize and that it will, instead, simply cheat on this deal as on all the previous ones. That being the case, it is all the more obvious that the President’s call for patience should apply first and foremost to his State Department’s efforts to give away what is left of the store – appropriate and needed designations of North Korea as a state-sponsor of terror and enemy of this country.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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