It's always America's fault
Did the US Provoke North Korea into rattling its nuclear saber, asks Newsweek, by branding it a "criminal state" guilty of counterfeiting, money laundering and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction? Selig Harrison writes after returning from the region that:
My conversations made clear that North Korea's missile tests in July and its threat last week to conduct a nuclear test explosion at an unspecified date "in the future" were directly provoked by the U.S. sanctions. In North Korean eyes, pressure must be met with pressure to maintain national honor and, hopefully, to jump-start new bilateral negotiations with Washington that could ease the financial squeeze. When I warned against a nuclear test, saying that it would only strengthen opponents of negotiations in Washington, several top officials replied that "soft" tactics had not worked and they had nothing to lose.
It's possibly another 'mistake' by the Bush Administration for failing to reward Pyongyang for its pledge to abandon nuclear weapons, according to Harrison.
On Sept. 19, 2005, North Korea signed a widely heralded denuclearization agreement with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang pledged to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs." In return, Washington agreed that the United States and North Korea would "respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together and take steps to normalize their relations."
Four days later, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sweeping financial sanctions against North Korea designed to cut off the country's access to the international banking system, branding it a "criminal state" guilty of counterfeiting, money laundering and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration says that this sequence of events was a coincidence.
But the article also notes that the State Department team was bitterly divided between "advocates of a conciliatory approach to North Korea over proponents of 'regime change' in Pyongyang. The chief U.S. negotiator, Christopher Hill, faced strong opposition from key members of his own delegation at every step of the way." A North Korean diplomat allegedly told a State Department official "How can you expect us to return to negotiations when it's clear your administration is paralyzed by divisions between those who hate us and those who want to negotiate seriously?"
Maybe the North Korean diplomat hadn't heard that America was roughly equally divided into liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Red States and Blue States otherwise he would have already understood why the US is paralyzed over nearly everything. This division — others would call it a debate — permeates all aspects of America's handling of the world crisis. If the North Koreans wait a little longer, the incident of a creepy Congressman's cybersex escapades will swing the pendulum back to negotiation. That's how foreign policy is made.