Kerry Right on Korea
The Council on Foreign Relations shows yet again that Kerry was right and Bush was wrong, forcing the Bush Administration to shift their policy on North Korea:
Specifically, what was the major change in the United States’ position?
If you go back to the presidential debates in 2004, a question was asked about North Korea. [Democratic candidate] John Kerry said, in effect, that “I think we should have a stronger bilateral component to the six-party process.” The president essentially said “nonsense, it’s six-party, [and] we are going to have nothing to do with the North Koreans in a bilateral way at all.”
What has happened in the last several months is that the individual spokesmen in the White House and the State Department, as the line has changed at the top, have signaled publicly that this is OK for direct talks, so long as it is in the context of the six-party talks. But if you wanted to take a look at this in a critical fashion you would say exactly what critics were saying for a long time, and that the president must have reversed himself. But I think it is a losing battle to try to assign blame, to get the administration to admit the president changed course.
Rice was asked on the [NewsHour with Jim] Lehrer show recently, “Haven’t you changed your tactics?” Her answer was, “No, this is what we have been doing all along.” There had previously been contacts between James Kelly, the former head of the [U.S.] delegation, and the North Koreans. This is not even close to being the truth, but it doesn’t matter. They are not going to admit a mistake. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is what is being done currently and in the future.