With bombs exploding in Iraq on an almost daily basis; with 1,780 American soldiers dead; with London braced for more terror attacks; and with bitter recriminations emanating from liberals in Britain and America over Downing Street memos, yellow cake from Niger, Gitmo, Valerie Plame, Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act, and more, the moment seems inauspicious to consider other serious threats to our lives and welfare. Few want to think about such unpleasant matters, but these threats too may require military action of some sort.
Do you remember North Korea? It's the country Sen. John Kerry and the Democrats kept asserting was more of a threat than Saddam's Iraq during the campaign of 2004. Funny, they haven't mentioned it since. They've reverted to the customary Democratic methods of dealing with threats in non-election years: appeasement, bribery, denial and blame America -- not necessarily in that order.
The Clinton administration certainly attempted the appeasement and bribery technique. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to Pyongyang to flatter the regime. In 1994, we signed the "Agreed Framework" -- a deal that required North Korea to cease work on its graphite-moderated nuclear power plants (which can produce weapons-grade plutonium) and promise to sin no more. In exchange, we agreed to supply North Korea with two light water nuclear reactors (the $4 billion cost was shouldered mostly by Japan and South Korea).
Additionally, the United States agreed to supply North Korea with 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil annually gratis, to compensate for the loss of energy from the nuclear reactors it was, in theory, shutting down. The U.S. further provided formal assurances that we had no plans to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against North Korea.
There you have the perfect liberal approach. The thinking behind it is clear as a bell. North Korea is not aggressive; it is frightened, thus the assurances about our peaceful intentions. North Korea is not building nuclear power plants in order to become a nuclear bully boy, but only for electricity for its people. We'll cheerfully provide that.
It failed miserably. A few years after signing this accord, the North Koreans fired a missile over Japan. Secretary of State Albright raced to a microphone to announce that "We agree, and we have let the North Koreans know, in no uncertain terms, that the August 31 launch was a dangerous development." But, she added stubbornly, "Our engagement with North Korea through the Agreed Framework remains central to our ability to press for restraint on missiles and for answers to our questions about suspicious underground construction activities."