Bush Administration's North Korea Policy at Odds with Its Belligerent Policy on Iraq

By David T. Pyne, Esq

Play It Again Sam! (A Look Back on The Bush Administration’s Policy on North Korea and Iraq: December 5th, 2002)

On Oct. 16, the Bush administration disclosed that in July of this year, North Korea had been conclusively found to be in violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework in which it agreed to halt its development and production of nuclear weapons. The administration had opted to hide this fact from the public for fear it would undermine public support for war on Iraq. Conveniently, the Bush administration appears to have concealed this information from Congress as well. Congress might have refused to authorize an invasion of non-nuclear Iraq when a far greater threat had emerged from North Korean nuclear-tipped ICBMs.

North Korean officials had admitted to the violations in a meeting in North Korea two weeks before. But making their admission public before the vote on war with Iraq would have been a distraction from the allegedly greater threat posed by non-nuclear secularist Iraq. The administration only leaked the news when the story threatened to break in the news media. North Korea leaked the information as nuclear blackmail to pressure the US, Japan, and South Korea to increase their aid to that Stalinist regime. This policy has been very successful beginning with the conclusion of the 1994 Agreed Framework in which the US, Japan, and North Korea pledged $5-6 billion in aid to shore up the communist country’s sagging economy in return for a North Korean pledge to halt the production of additional nuclear weapons. Bush elected to continue Bill Clinton’s policy of appeasement in North Korea.

How did the Bush administration react to this flagrant violation by the most infamous member of the Axis of Evil? They appeased the murderous Stalinist regime with several months of additional oil shipments and American foreign aid. Bush even sent a top State Department official to oversee the groundbreaking of one of two US-sponsored giant nuclear reactors this past August. These nuclear reactors, when completed, would enable North Korea to increase its nuclear warhead production to 60 a year, according to expert testimony by House Republican Policy Committee experts in 1999. Over the past two years, several members of Congress from both parties urged President Bush to abandon his policy of appeasement in North Korea. However, to date their requests have not been heeded in spite of these flagrant violations of the 1994 accord. Unlike Iraq, the administration has forsworn military action against North Korea for its continued production of nuclear weapons. The Bush administration’s continued appeasement of North Korea following its continued nuclear weapons production in violation of 1994 accord presents a stark contrast to America’s increasingly militant and confrontational policy against non-nuclear Iraq.

North Korea already has nuclear missiles that are capable of reaching every city on the Western coast of the United States and has threatened to use them to turn the US into “a sea of fire”. The dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, is perhaps the most insane and least predictable leader of any rogue state in the world. In response to this clear and present threat to millions of Americans, the Bush administration has made North Korea the largest recipient of US foreign aid in Asia. North Korea has also been cited by the Bush administration as the biggest WMD proliferator in the world. Why the double standard between the greater and more immediate nuclear threat of North Korea and the markedly lesser threat of Iraq? Would the administration be appeasing Iraq with hundreds of million dollars in aid and two new nuclear reactors with which to increase its nuclear arms production if Iraq had already developed nuclear weapons?

The president’s curious focus on Iraq while he neglects or appeases countries like Communist China, North Korea, and Iran has fueled much speculation. Given that Iraq poses neither a significant terrorist nor a WMD threat to the US, the administration’s true motives for waging a pre-emptive and unprovoked war against Iraq are unclear. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield’s determined to invade Iraq immediately following the 9/11 attacks using the murderous suicide bombing attacks as a pretext despite the absence of any evidence of a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorists. This strengthens the argument that the war on Iraq is politically motivated, and not based upon national security. The administration’s has repeatedly tried to link Iraq to al Qaida and terrorist attacks against the US, and to use those dubious links as a pretext and justification for its planned invasion of Iraq. However, even the CIA and US intelligence experts have stated that such links are tenuous at best, so their usefulness as justification for an unprovoked invasion of Iraq is questionable.

Another potential rationale for a US invasion of Iraq is a possible attempt by the president to avenge an alleged Iraqi assassination attempt against his father back in 1993, something which he alluded to in a news conference last month, when he stated that Saddam “tried to kill his dad.” Bush may also have a desire to avenge the perceived failure of his father to oust Saddam back in 1991 or to enforce UN resolutions on Iraq so onerous that no nation would willingly accept them. If it can indeed be confirmed that Saddam attempted to assassinate the former president, then Bush Jr. would be justified in ordering Saddam assassinated. However, an all-out invasion of Iraq for such understandable but intensely personal considerations would probably not be justified. It is not American tradition to send troops to settle a personal score. ***


David T Pyne currently serves as DUV-PAC Chairman, President of the Utah Republican Assembly, and as Vice President for the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter. A former national security expert, he has served as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, worked as a defense contractor and International Programs Manager, as an International Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy, and as a Research Assistant for the Center for Security Policy.