North Korea – Another Intelligence Whoops

By Rowan Wolf of Uncommon Thought Journal

Well, the cat is out of the bag. The U.S. blew it on North Korea’s uranium enrichment program. That’s right. North Korea did not have a uranium enrichment program, but because of U.S. accusations, they did jump into a plutonium program out of self defense. Think that Bush didn’t start another nuclear arms race? Well think again.

For over four years BushCo has claimed that North Korea was involved in a uranium enrichment program which would lead them quickly (if it had not already done so) to nuclear missile capability. Based upon that belief, the Bush listed North Korea among the “axis of evil,” and instigated sanctions that have cost North Koreans dearly. In spite of arguments from North Korea’s “crazy” leader Kim Jong Il that nothing of the sort was going on, the U.S. broke off all diplomatic relations with North Korea and started a process for the UN to add its sanctions to those of the US.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Iraq? Iran?

Now why do we have (until the Bush administration) the rule in our criminal justice system that you are innocent until proven guilty? For exactly this reason. It is almost impossible to prove an absence of guilt.

The actions by the administration are more than a “whoops.” They did force nuclear development by North Korea – plutonium rather than enriched uranium based – but now they are nuclear capable. Do you feel safer now? Just as Hussein was contained and al-Qaida was largely constrained to Afghanistan, those problems are larger now too are they not?

There is another cost to the actions taken against North Korea. It is a very human cost.

According to a 2003 Congressional Research Service report:

U.S. economic sanctions are imposed against North Korea for four primary
reasons: (1) North Korea is seen as posing a threat to U.S. national security; (2) North Korea is designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor or supporter of international terrorism; (3) North Korea is a Marxist-Leninist state, with a Communist government; and (4) North Korea has been found by the State Department to have engaged in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In accordance with U.S. law, the United States limits some trade, denies trade in dual use goods and services, limits foreign aid, and opposes entry into or support from international financial institutions.

The imposed sanctions cut oil imports into North Korea, significantly impacting power generation and commerce. “Dual use” items were banned (anything that might potentially have a military use – the lead in pencils for example), economic and food aid was largely curtailed, and travel into and out of the country was also severely restricted. Bill Gertz, writing in the 6/16/06 Washington Times, states the “U.S. sanctions cost North Korea millions.” However, it also likely cost more than that in human life. The people of North Korea were already on a knife’s edge. It would be foolish to think that the sanctions did not push many beyond that point. Another cost of the “mistake” was the resolution of issues between North and South Korea, and a prolonging of the reunion of families that have been separated for decades.

Bush consistently refused to participate in the six party talks with North Korea. He consistently refused to give any credibility to what North Korea was saying (just a he refused to believe “that liar” Saddam Hussein). The outcome? A wronged, hungry, and more militarized country; significant damage to relations between North Korea and its neighbors.

The information regarding the intelligence uncertainty came to light in the testimony of intelligence official Joe DeTrani before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In an interview after the hearing, Senator Jack Reed (R.I.) is quoted as saying”The administration appears to have made a very costly decision that has resulted in a fourfold increase in the nuclear weapons of North Korea. If that was based in part on mixing up North Korea’s ambitions with their accomplishments, it’s important.” (NY Times, 3/01/07) To make matters even worse, these doubts were known by the administration in 2002, and intelligence confidence continued to drop over the years as Bush continued to push his perceptions and policy.

The NY Times article quotes John Bolton in what has become the stock response regarding Bush administration policies: “there was no dissent at the time, because in the face of the evidence the disputes evaporated.”

Ah that “intelligence.” The spin it till it fits “intelligence.” That massage it till it supports your world view, then present it to “decision-makers” intelligence. Then everyone can say (at least until the truth comes out) “Well we all saw the intelligence and it was convincing.” That of course can be followed at a later date by “If we knew then what we know now…” Unfortunately, what we know now we did know then. And what we know now is that the damage to North Korea and its people, relations in the region, the increased military threat of North Korea, and yet another blow to U.S. credibility, are likely beyond simple dollar calculations.

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Published in: on 03/03/2007 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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