It's Recess-time Somewhere

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July 14, 2005

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Let's get this straight folks. Anything bad that happens is Michael Schiavo's fault and anything good that happens is a direct result of the Bush Administration's pure genius.

Back in June, South Korea was nice enough to offer to string powerline across the border and let the North Koreans have 2000 megawatts of electricity, in effect solving their energy crisis, as long as the North Koreans would be nice enough to abandon their nuclear ambitions. And at the same meeting back in June, North Korea agreed to rejoin the disarmament talks.

Wow! That's a great step forward!! Go South Korea!! They're steppin' up to the plate and sweetening the deal. A deal that could potentially avert a nuclear war! How cool is that! Those North Koreans are crazy people. Much, much better for the U.S. and our allies if they have electricity rather than nuclear warheads. South Korea rocks! Yay South Korea!

But wait...

We, here in the U.S. can't let other countries take credit for these kinds of diplomatic successes, can we? I mean we're the biggest, baddest, and most arrogant doggies on the block, right? And Condi, being the great diplomat that she is, I mean she has all those nice outfits and all, wants a feather in her cap, even if it doesn't match her outfit.

So how does Condi spin it?

Returning from a six-day trip to Asia, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and her aides said Wednesday that North Korea's
decision to return to nuclear disarmament talks was a vindication of
the Bush administration's strategy and not solely the result of a South
Korean offer to provide the North with electricity.

And what was the Bush Administration's strategy, you ask?

In the last year, Washington has urged the other parties to the
six-nation disarmament talks - Russia, Japan and South Korea - to refrain
from offering further incentives to the North and instead to push the
Chinese to use their considerable leverage over its leaders to persuade
them to return to the talks.

But China refused...

Gosh, that doesn't sound very successful, does it??

But still, the Bush Administration has got to find a way to portray this as a grandiose success for themselves.

A senior administration official traveling with Ms. Rice indicated
that the Bush administration was startled, and pleasantly surprised,
when the South Koreans told of their "very generous" energy offer, as
this official put it.

Administration officials insisted that they did not know why North
Korea had suddenly decided to return to the talks, but seemed to go out
of their way to dismiss the South Korean offer.

"How do you know that the South Koreans made a difference?" Ms. Rice
asked, in response to a question. "Have you been talking to the North
Koreans about what made a difference? I think I can make the argument
that a number of diplomatic efforts here by the Chinese, by the South
Koreans, by the United States" were responsible. "The Japanese and the
Russians have been involved too," she said.

The senior administration official described a continuum of activity in
recent months that he said had helped convince the North Koreans to come
around. First, he said, North Korea demanded security assurances from
the United States. And while those assurances were already a part of the
American proposal given to the North Koreans during the talks a year ago,
"the United States made the decision to give the security assurances"
again, he said, "and we gave them."

Earlier this year, Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice made public statements assuring
North Korea that the United States would not attack it.

The official noted that the allies had also provided fuel oil as
requested, food aid, economic assistance and public acknowledgment that
the United States regarded North Korea as a sovereign state.

But none of that seemed to budge the North Koreans. In fact, their
statements grew ever more bellicose as the months passed - so much so,
the senior official said, that the United States asked China and South
Korea this spring to tell the North to tone it down its language.

As you can see, we didn't even to ask them to tone down their language ourselves. We asked China and South Korea to do it for us.