Would you entrust our reputation in the world to this man?
Today we learned from our ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, that from the time that we, Americans, first learned of the North Korean explosion we knew that we would need to take a swift and strong response.
Did we know that? Does anyone know what that "swift and strong response" might be? Other than a military response I don’t.
Our secretary of state, Condi Rice, has already told us that the military response is out, that we’re not going to invade North Korea (and we thank her for that!). So we will have to look elsewhere than to the military for what we will "need" to do.
And it’s here that our ambassador to the UN steps onto the scene. Looking wounded and angry he comes onto the world stage speaking sanctions. Voicing "tough" measures such as "international inspections of cargo going into and out of North Korea to
block transport of weapons-related material." But does anyone really believe that this or other such measures, probably a thousand times more difficult to execute that the construction of a 700 mile long barrier on our southern border with Mexico, have a snowball’s chance of being effective?
So why do we, and why does our ambassador, play the sanction card? Because that’s all we have left? Even those sanctions that he would impose on the North would probably have to be considerably softened in order to gain the cooperation of the major regional players, China and Russia.
Why do we continue to do this sort of thing? Haven’t we seen over and over again that we will never persuade the North Koreans by threats to abandon their nuclear ambitions, no more than we will keep guns away from our children by taking away their privileges.
In this case, as in all cases of opposed parties to a seemingly intractble problem of international relations, only direct talks between the parties has a chance of succeeding. Why aren’t we willing to hold such talks? Haven’t we learned from recent experience in Iraq and elsewhere that sanctions, while often bringing great harm to a people have never turned a government from its lust for power and recognition, that which they not unreasonably assume will accompany their possession of the bomb.