The Value of History

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.

—Winston Churchill

We have all heard this expression so many times that its truth no longer registers with most people.  This is really a shame because our lives today —right now— would be so much improved had we learned anything from the past.  And we might also reflect on this: history isn’t only about a bunch of dead guys and gals … some of the people whose decisions affect our lives today are still with us.  This post is a case in point

By Chuck DeVore and Steen W. Mosher

August 31, 2017

Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and former director of Asian Studies at the Claremont Institute, and Chuck DeVore, Vice President for National Initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and former California State Assembly Representative wrote this op-ed — “Nuclear pact with North Korea could end up in a meltdown”—for the Ontario Daily Bulletin in March, 1995. It is reprinted below. Names and dates have changed in the last twenty years, but U.S. policy towards North Korea has not.

The American foreign aid program to North Korea, a rogue state that just shot down a U.S. military helicopter, has begun. On Dec. 15, 50,000 metric tons of free oil was handed over to the Pyongyang regime, with regular shipments to follow. The price tag? Fifty million dollars a year for the next 10 years. The funds for this giveaway are to come, ironically enough, out of the Pentagon’s operations readiness budget.

This is but a small part of the Clinton/Carter peace-in-our-time deal with Pyongyang, hyped as preventing war on the Korean peninsula and nuclear mayhem in the world. Instead, this flawed agreement appears to give Kim Jong Il and his cohorts exactly what they need: time, money and legitimacy.

Time: Instead of requiring immediate inspections of two nuclear waste sites to determine if—or, more likely, how many—nuclear bombs have been made, the agreement gives North Korea a five-year grace period—time to develop and test its nuclear arsenal, time to further refine its intermediate-range ballistic missiles, time to export nuclear bombs and delivery systems to radical states like Iran or Syria who may in turn pass them to terrorist groups.

Money:  Free oil is the least of the goodies that U.S. taxpayers have been committed to providing North Korea. Pyongyang will also receive two new 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants (estimated cost: $4 billion), nuclear fuel (estimated cost: $2 billion) and a modern power grid (estimated cost: $1 billion or more). South Korea is expected to pay the bulk of these costs, but Clinton has formally pledged that the U.S. will pick up the whole tab if it doesn’t.

Legitimacy: The U.S. and its Pacific allies have offered to establish bilateral diplomatic relations at an early date, a promise that is helping to legitimize what has hitherto been regarded as an outlaw regime. As a consequence, Pyongyang may soon be enjoying another windfall: low interest rate loans from the World Bank and other international financial institutions.

How did North Korea manage to extort such an unprecedented payoff from the United States in return for mere promises?

By 1993 it was apparent that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program was on the verge of success. After international inspectors were denied entry to North Korean nuclear facilities, the IAEA estimated that four to five nuclear weapons could be produced from the plutonium in Pyongyang’s possession. By early 1994, Pyongyang was openly threatening to disregard U.N. agreements that limited nuclear weapons development. Many took this to mean that it had already constructed such armaments.

President Clinton initially came on strong, stating that North Korea must not be allowed to build or deploy any nuclear weapons. He threatened to impose an economic embargo on Pyongyang until it abandoned its nuclear ambitions.

Pyongyang fired back, charging that such an embargo would be an act of war. If the United States persisted in its plans, Seoul would be in flames, its streets covered with blood.

At the height of the crisis, Clinton blinked. He abandoned his half-hearted efforts at an embargo, which China, Japan, and even South Korea had begun to resist. Instead, Jimmy Carter went to North Korea to defuse the situation. Carter met with octogenarian dictator Kim Il Sung and returned in self-declared triumph, sounding Chamberlainesque as he avowed that the peace had been won.

The deal was temporarily put on ice when Kim Il Sung died, but negotiations were resumed in Geneva as soon as his son and heir, Kim Jong Il, had consolidated power. Since it was by now clear to all concerned that Washington wished to avoid conflict at any price, Pyongyang’s demands were steep: two turn-key nuclear power plants, a new power grid and free oil to burn while its old reactors were idled. As for what had been done with the weapons-grade plutonium these reactors had produced, well, the United States would just have to wait five years and see.

All this “crisis management” has obscured the real question, which still remains “Has North Korea amassed an arsenal of nuclear weapons?” It is not reassuring that Robert Gallucci, the chief U.S. negotiator in Geneva, professes indifference on this point. In the course of 16-months of negotiating with the North Koreans, Ambassador Gallucci remarked on the McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on Oct. 18 that he did not believe that he had ever inquired whether they had acquired nuclear weapons. Indeed, as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy recently commented, “The Clinton administration seems fixedly disinterested in this point, perhaps because it highlights Mr. Clinton’s complete abandonment of his previous position that the North must not be allowed to obtain any nuclear weapons.”

One suspects that this most foolish of deals will have a short half-life. The general in charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who is in a position to know the particulars of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, has recently—and at great peril to his career—spoken critically of the agreement. Many among the new Republican majority in Congress also question the prudence of rewarding the rogue state for merely making promises, which may or may not be kept.

The incoming Congress should insist on a real agreement, one that ensures North Korea does not now possess, and is permanently disbarred from developing, nuclear weapons. Republican pressure has already helped Clinton recall and act upon a number of his earlier promises, such as that for a middle-class tax cut. They should jog his memory and stiffen his spine on North Korea, too.

Anyone who still claims that Bill Clinton was one of our better presidents hasn’t been paying attention.  The weight of the incompetence, or sheer stupidity, of our politicians is astounding … and yet, how many Americans realize that our difficulties with North Korea now (today) are directly related to decisions made in 1993?  And should we be at all concerned about the amount of money here?  Americans on the left wail and moan about the plight of our homeless persons, about the number of children in America who are not receiving the minimum recommended daily nutrition … but they have no hesitation spending billions of our hard-earned dollars on the North Koreans, who are today constructing a nuclear arsenal aimed directly at the hearts of all Americans.

History is important; we need to pay more attention to it —so too is the present— and for the same reasons.

 

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21 Responses to The Value of History

  1. John M. Berger says:
    “The weight of the incompetence, or sheer stupidity, of our politicians is astounding …”

    While I didn’t watch it, excerpts of the Emmy Presentations, last night, reveal volumes about how and why we have these stupid “politicians”. I’m sure that no further explanation is required at this site!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I admit that I am woefully ignorant of the history of Korea. I feel a reading fit coming on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mustang says:

      I think the most interesting part of Korean history is how the USA has screwed the pooch in its dealings with the Korean people. Our diplomats are the worst on the planet, and have been since the days of Elihu Root. A modern axiom fits, I think: junk in, junk out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kid says:

    I don’t know about Carter. He may have just been as dumb as a stump. Clinton did anything and everything to avoid bad press, the clinton white house only wanted good news. It is also why he offered 5K a month to every palistinian for life to arafat.

    But to your higher level point, it is obvious that animals come out of the box with a greater chance of survival than humans. A month or so and almost all of them are ready to feed and protect themselves. Humans need years to get to that level. It’s a wonder we survive as a race.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kid says:

    JMB, I have little doubt that the majority of politicians have no interest in anything beside themself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John M. Berger says:

    Kid,

    “the majority of politicians have no interest in anything beside themself.”

    OH, come on; politicians are just good people dedicating themselves to the public good. You must know that they sacrifice every single day so that [we] can maximize all that this Nation has to offer . How, How can you think otherwise? You naughty guy!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bunkerville says:

    Like Husband like Wife…..ignorance must be contagious.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. geeez2014 says:

    Pay attention to history? No time…we seem too busy rewriting it 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mustang says:

      Good point, Z … and if practice makes perfect, as they say, then having to repeat history so often we should be getting pretty darn good at it, eh?

      Like

  8. I really have no use for supporting either Korea now.

    Like

    • Mustang says:

      Diplomatic “Dilly Dally” is how we ended up with the first Korean War; it is why I am no fan of Truman or MacArthur and the source of my overall disgust with America’s diplomatic corps. I would have said “diplomatic effort,” but I don’t see much effort going on inside Foggy Bottom. What the Koreans (and all other Asians) need to hear is direct, no-nonsense (albeit polite) words from our president. Do X, and expect Y to happen … bank on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Baysider says:

    I seem to recall that one way Clinton help the NK regime was by reclassifying certain key components they needed for their nuclear program from a ‘high security’ clearing required to a commercial level approval-able by the Dept. of Commerce’s … Ron Brown.

    Like

    • Mustang says:

      Indeed … and then the security breach at Los Alamos under Bill Richardson, the piracy of submarine warfare information technology, making all of our submarines vulnerable to enemy detection … the list goes on, and on, and on. Why aren’t the Clinton’s in jail????

      Like

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