Sunday, October 27, 2002
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IN THE MATTER OF JIMMY
IN THE MATTER OF JIMMY CARTER: I said I would take the weekend off, but any day when the New York Times editorial page endorses a Republican for governor of New York and sides with the Bush administration over the United Nations is clearly one of those harmonic convergences that requires more blogging.
Which brings me to Jimmy Carter's vacuous op-ed about North Korea in today's Times. I've defended Carter against the right half of the Blogosphere concerning his Nobel Peace Prize, but after reading what he wrote in the Times, I feel compelled to attempt something I admit to some uneasiness about -- a fisking!
Most of Carter's essay is harmless blather. Then we get to the final two grafs:
"What is needed on the Korean peninsula is an end to more than a half-century of 'armistice' and the consummation of a comprehensive and permanent peace agreement."
It’s a good thing Carter is around, because this might not have occurred to the Koreans themselves.
"The success of strong diplomacy is still a possibility, with it being crucial that the United States play a constructive role."
What exactly is “strong diplomacy”? Negotiators switch from decaf to caf? Would Carter actually encourage U.S. negotiators to raise their voices? No, that would be too belligerent and unilateralist for Carter’s tastes.
"The framework for an agreement still exists and includes some elements that must be confirmed by mutual actions combined with unimpeded international inspections."
Yes, the framework for an agreement still exists, in the sense that after eight years, nothing has fundamentally changed. North Korea is still has an active nuclear weapons program and still has 1,000,000 troops within 100 miles of Seoul.
"First, North Korea should forgo any nuclear weapons program and the two Koreas should proceed with good-faith talks. The United States may then move toward normal relations with North Korea."
Wait a minute, he’s right!! All North Korea has to do is forgo its nuclear weapons program!! Why didn’t anyone think of this before? And good-faith talks are an excellent suggestion – oh, wait, that’s exactly what the two Koreas have been doing under Kim Dae Jung’s “sunshine policy,” except that the North Koreans have been acting in bad faith.
"The basic premises of the agreed framework of 1994 must be honored, with North Korea, Japan, South Korea, the United States and China cooperating."
Why, yes, that’s a swell idea – oh, wait, the North Koreans said they thought the 1994 agreement was “nullified.” Oh, and Carter forgot Russia – how flagrantly anti-multilateralist of him.
"Finally, international tensions should be reduced through step-by-step demilitarization on the border between the two Koreas."
And after that, a free pony for every Korean boy and girl!!
"There is, of course, still the option of war instead of peace talks. It would be devastating and probably unnecessary."
Carter’s unwillingness to recognize that the prospect of force is often a necessary adjunct to successful negotiations remains his tragic flaw. It helps to explain why, even though Carter has his Nobel, Reagan will be the president history remembers from the late 20th century. I hope a war will be unnecessary, but to dismiss the use of force as an option is both unnecessary and dangerously naïve.
I'm beginning to wonder if the Nobel Peace Prize has the same effect on policymakers that being on the cover of Sports Illustrated has on athletes. The dreaded SI cover jinx is well known to sports fans -- the moment an athlete appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated, their on-field performance goes downhill. Now consider the recent class of Nobelists. The North Korea imbroglio not only embarrassses Carter, but fellow Nobelist Kim Dae Jung. The Nobels awarded for the Oslo accords in the Middle East and the Good Friday agreements in Northern Ireland aren't holding up well either. Maybe those criticizing the Nobel committee for awarding this year's prize to Carter should be grateful that it was not awarded to Bush or Blair.posted by Dan on 10.27.02 at 09:21 AM