I have little doubt that the Boy Who Would Be King and his flacks are going to spend a lot of time crowing over the recent successful negotiations to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Indeed, it seems they're already on the job, at least if the lede to this story in today's Washington Post is any indication:
The six-nation deal to shut down North Korea's nuclear facility, four months after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test, was reached yesterday largely because President Bush was willing to give U.S. negotiators new flexibility to reach an agreement, U.S. officials and Asian diplomats said yesterday.
The fly in the ointment of that rosy glow of victory, however, is devastatingly portrayed in Tom Toles's latest editorial cartoon:
To wit, Bush has spent the last six years bobbing and weaving, twisting and turning, engaging in dangerous brinksmanship with an unstable regime led by a man who may well be one of the very few in the world even less stable than our preznit--just to get us back to the place we were when President Clinton left office in 2001. Our Dear Leader's flunkies demur, claiming that the new agreement is significantly better than the one President Clinton negotiated in 1994:
Administration officials stressed that the agreement was an improvement over a bilateral deal reached in 1994 under then-President Bill Clinton, which collapsed after the Bush administration accused North Korea of conducting the clandestine uranium program. Under that agreement, North Korea froze the Yongbyon facility and agreed to "eventually dismantle" it in exchange for fuel oil and light-water reactors. Bush administration officials noted yesterday that the new agreement was signed by all of North Korea's neighbors, which they said would make it more difficult to break. Any suggestion of building light-water reactors for North Korea has been pushed far into the future.
Pardon my skepticism, but at least on the evidence of that quoted paragraph, the only differences between the two agreements are that we're not going to build any light-water reactors in North Korea for a while, and there are more guarantors of the DPRK's good behavior than before. That's not what I would call a significant achievement--especially since it probably wouldn't have taken this long to arrive at an agreement if Bush and his band of bungling boobs hadn't been hell-bent on beating their chests and engaging in a dick-measuring contest with Kim Jong Il. Moreover, given that Bush spent a fair amount of time last year stumping for his new energy plan, the centerpiece of which is the construction of new nuclear plants here in the U.S., I have to wonder if the postponement of the North Korean construction isn't going to cost him a few brownie points (or favors) with nuclear power providers. According to Open Secrets, donors from the energy sector kicked in close to $5 million to Bush's 2004 presidential campaign. Much of that money most likely came from oil companies, who have always enjoyed
good relations with having the preznit in their back pocket--but if I had the time and the inclination to dig through the FEC reports, I bet I'd find a number of contributions from representatives of the "stagnant" nuclear power industry as well. Building light-water reactors in the DPRK would represent a significant infusion of cash for those companies, not to mention giving them a chance to refresh their memories on how to build one of these things, given that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hasn't issued a license for a new nuclear power plant in the U.S. since 1979. I can't imagine they're going to be too happy about seeing that plum taken out of their Christmas pudding.