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May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
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May 10, 2013
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May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
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Clifford D. May:
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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
May 27, 2009 / 4 Sivan 5769
Are we at peace?
Rome Here the sun is shining, the quiet Tiber suggests lazily
that it has seen everything there is to see in this world; the streets are
thronged with tourists (including this columnist); the locals are amorous;
and the food is delicious. Here, perhaps even more than in the United
States, one could easily slip into the comfortable feeling that we are at
peace. Explaining the Obama administration's departure from some Bush
interrogation techniques, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair
described reading about those methods "on a bright, sunny, safe day in …
Well, it feels peaceful now. But to paraphrase the great
Anonymous: The wise man learns from other people's mistakes. The sensible
man doesn't make the same mistake twice. And the fool fails to learn from
his own mistakes. History (and being in the Eternal City makes one more than
usually conscious of the past) affords thousands of examples of the folly of
falling into complacency when a threat seems to have temporarily abated.
Troy arguably fell for this at the hands of the Greeks. Europe's democracies
deluded themselves that Germany wanted peace as much as they did following
the catastrophic First World War. Israel failed to keep its guard up after
the 1967 war and was caught flat-footed (for a time) by the attack that came
in 1973. Fill in your own favorite examples.
This week the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has exploded
what looks to be a real nuclear weapon (the last explosion left some experts
in doubt) and also launched a short-range missile as, what, an exclamation
point perhaps? This destitute little redoubt of crazed Stalinism now has
something of value to sell to the highest bidder. And while we're
contemplating that grim picture, consider that there is a failure here.
We've heard incessantly since 2006 that George W. Bush's
handling of the Iraq War represented the failure of armed force. And while
it is certainly true that President Bush waited about two years too long to
fix the problems in post-invasion Iraq, the much-overlooked reality is that
developments in Iraq now seem to be on track for a happy ending. Even if you
believe that the price was too high in blood and money for the results
obtained, you cannot reasonably argue that the whole enterprise was a
failure. In place of a genocidal aggressor in Iraq, we now have something
that looks more democratic than any other Arab state.
The exclusively diplomatic approach, by contrast, has suffered a
complete and total failure in the case of North Korea. This was not a
failure simply of the Obama administration (U.S. Special Envoy Stephen
Bosworth last week noted that the Obama administration is "relatively
relaxed" and that "there is not a sense of crisis") but also of the Bush and
Clinton years. All of these administrations followed essentially the same
policy. Remember former President Jimmy Carter (Clinton's informal envoy)
proudly boasting of the "Framework Agreement" they had achieved? The U.S.
agreed to provide North Korea with fuel oil and two light-water nuclear
reactors in exchange for the DPRK's promise to suspend its nuclear weapons
program. When asked, a couple of years on, about North Korean violations,
Secretary of State Warren Christopher was reassuring: "The Framework Accord
between the United States and North Korea has proved to be quite durable
through a rather long period of time as we have gone through the steps
called for by the Accord. The United States has been furnishing oil and KEDO
(Korean Energy Development Organization) has been moving forward in its
processes. When I met with Foreign Minister Gong recently we agreed it was
very important to preserve the Framework Accord because through it we have
frozen the North Korean nuclear development …"
Clinton's next secretary of state was no less solicitous of
agreements. Madeleine Albright spent the last days of the Clinton presidency
posing with Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang.
The Bush administration, after some initial tough talk, caved to
the State Department's diplomacy track. In its final months, the Bush
administration removed North Korea from a list of terror-sponsoring states.
No one has ridiculed this more pungently than former U.N. Envoy John Bolton:
"In the weeks before being delisted, North Korea expelled
international inspectors, first from its Yongbyon plutonium-reprocessing
facility and then from the entire complex. It moved to reactivate Yongbyon
and to conduct a possible second nuclear-weapons test, and prepared for an
extensive salvo of antiship and other missile capabilities. All of this the
Bush administration dismissed as North Korea's typical negotiation style."
The fruits of this path of "diplomacy only" blindly pursued
by three presidents are now clear. But those so eager to learn lessons
from mistakes in Iraq will probably be deaf to this one.
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