Barack Obama's campaign site still contains the blurb stating that he
is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.
Here's an example of a result stemming from a different strategy used with another charter member of the Axis of Evil:
President Bush today lifted some trade sanctions against North Korea and acted to remove the country from a list of states that sponsor terrorism, after the isolated Stalinist regime turned over a key document detailing its rogue nuclear program.No direct presidential diplomacy and plenty of preconditions. And what's that I keep hearing about the president's alleged unilateral, go-it-alone mentality?
Nearly seven years after Bush described North Korea as part of "an axis of evil" and less than two years after Pyongyang stunned the world by exploding a small nuclear device, Bush said the receipt of the nuclear disclosure marked the start of an "action for action" process meant to end with the full dismantling of the country's nuclear facilities and weapons.
The document was handed over to Chinese officials in Beijing, one of the most substantial developments to date in the often fitful six-party talks among North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. It detailed aspects of North Korea's plutonium production and other parts of its nuclear program
"The U.S. has no illusions about the regime in Pyongyang. We remain deeply concerned about human rights abuses . . . nuclear testing and proliferation, ballistic missile program, and the threat it continues to pose," Bush said, adding that the United States will continue to demand full verification that all aspects of North Korea's nuclear program have been shut down.It's not the whole enchilada, but only an initial step. And this time, as Ed Morrissey points out, if Li'l Kim isn't dealing honestly, he has to face the Big Dogs in the region rather than just the United States who may or may not have the Norks on top of the foreign policy agenda.
One thing that's of concern: Syria.
The Bush administration has also agreed not to demand historical details, in this declaration, about North Korea's suspected program for making highly enriched uranium for nuclear bombs or about its suspected efforts to sell nuclear technology to other countries, including Syria.Does the emphasized phrase mean that the subject will be address later?
The waiting period for the agreement to take affect is forty-five days and the NK government will be observed closely by all the actors mentioned and the inspectors will verify Kim's word by check the reactor and records at Yongbyon to verify how much plutonium the North Koreans have.
What does North Korea get out of the deal? Food, fuel and the ability to obtain more.
Everyone is cautious and at least one of the negotiating parties has a big problem with the agreement:
When the United States removes North Korea from the list of terrorist states, Kim's impoverished government, which faces a severe food shortage this summer, will receive large shipments of fuel. The United States has already promised to send a half-million ton of food.
The easing of trade restrictions may allow North Korea to borrow money from the World Bank and international institutions, and will lift some of the current rules preventing U.S. citizens and companies from importing North Korean goods or exporting goods and material to the country.
Japan has strongly argued that North Korea should be classified as a terrorist state until it comes clean on its abduction of Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 80s.So this thing is a long process with many actors and many competing interests , with no "Deux ex machina" outcome as the Carter-Clinton Agreed Framework of 1994* was thought to have produced.
The fate of eight still-missing Japanese whom North Korea has acknowledged kidnapping has become an obsession in Japan. Politicians here cannot afford to be perceived as neglecting the issue. Tokyo has imposed tough economic sanctions and cut off all food and energy aid to the North. [snip]
"Japanese sentiment has made this such an emotional issue," said Pyong Jin-il, an expert on North Korea issues. "The Japanese people will be looking coldly at the United States and its moves [if NK is removed from the terrorist list]."
Japan's leaders have been backed into a corner, several analysts said, where they are being pressured by an angry public to complain about the behavior of their most important ally, the United States. So far, official complaining has been muted.
Hear that, Obama? Probably not.
*In fairness, much as I dislike the two former presidents, the two were trying to save the starving North Koreans also. But their compassion may have endangered the rest of the world. We'll see.