Feb 19, 2007
The Bush administration has officially ended its five-year standoff with North Korea over that country’s nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies promised to provide this impoverished, food and energy-starved country some fuel oil and other aid. In return, North Korea agreed to stop producing new nuclear fuel and to allow nuclear inspectors back into the country.
This is essentially the same kind of agreement that the Clinton administration made with North Korea in 1994 – an agreement the Bush administration walked away from in 2002. Soon after that, prior to the invasion of Iraq, Bush named North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, as one of the three members of his “axis of evil.”
So what has changed? Why has the Bush administration softened its stance against this supposedly “evil” government which, if anything, has become more defiant, by going ahead with its nuclear program and even testing a missile four months ago?
The answer can be summarized in one word: Iraq. The “axis of evil” talk was part of the aggressive posture taken by an administration that was gearing up for war. That war, in Iraq, has now become a political liability for the U.S. So the Bush administration is taking a different posture – one that is more conciliatory toward other governments. For the moment.
North Korea – a small, poor, isolated country – has never been a real threat to the U.S. On the contrary, the U.S., which has by far the most powerful military and the deadliest weapons – nuclear and otherwise – and regularly uses them to attack other countries, remains the biggest threat to peace and security in the world.