Thursday, June 09, 2005

Scary-ass crap

I know there are some people who don't see The Atlantic as a top-tier general interest magazine, but this month's offering is pretty damn strong. In addition to catching Paul Wolfowitz completely pantsless on the question of WMD in Iraq, the tireless James Fallows offers a pretty fascinating, if fanciful, future economic meltdown scenario.

All those were pretty good, but nothing beats the North Korea war game that one writer convened. Former generals, state department goofs and assorted people offer their nuggets of wisdom. The consensus? About 100,000 would certainly die in the first few days alone in a Korean peninsual conflict.

The best part about this whole thing, though, is the wildly divergent views on how we should proceed. Is negotation rewarding good behavior? Well, here's how Robert Gallucci, the Clinton's chief negotiator with North Korea, put it. I quote it at length, because it is pretty fascinating:

"When I came back with the Agreed Framework deal and tried to sell it," he said, "I ran into the same people sitting around that table—the general to my right, Ken across from me. They hated the idea of trying to solve this problem with a negotiation.

"And I said, 'What's your—pardon me—your fucking plan, then, if you don't like this?'

"'We don't like—'

"I said, 'Don't tell me what you don't like! Tell me how you're going to stop the North Korean nuclear program.'

"'But we wouldn't do it this way—'

"'Stop! What are you going to do?'

"I could never get a goddamn answer. What I got was 'We wouldn't negotiate.'"

I pointed out that the North Koreans had—as McInerney emphasized—cheated on the 1994 agreement. "Excuse me," Gallucci said, "the Soviets cheated on virtually every deal we ever made with them, but we were still better off with the deal than without it."

To people who say that negotiating with the North Koreans rewards bad behavior, Gallucci says, "Listen, I'm not interested in teaching other people lessons. I'm interested in the national security of the United States. If that's what you're interested in, are you better off with this deal or without it? You tell me what you're going to do without the deal, and I'll compare that with the deal."

He was adamant that we were better off under the Agreed Framework—cheating and all—than we are now. "When the Clinton folks went out of office, the North Koreans only had the plutonium they had separated in the previous Bush administration. Now they've got a whole lot more. What did all this 'tough' shit give us? It gave us a much more capable North Korea. Terrific!"

That says it all.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:56 PM

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