Chris Hill BEATS John Bolton: Bush Declares New Track for US-North Korea Relations

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What I reported two days ago about the White House asking Congress to remove North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terror list was confirmed a few moments ago by President Bush.
In a Rose Garden statement, President Bush also suspended sanctions on North Korea that are tied to the “Trading with Enemies Act”.
This is huge news — and is a giant step in putting US-North Korea relations on a new and more constructive track. This is a success for the Bush administration — and more importantly for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacfic Affairs Christopher Hill who has been a punching bag for former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton who has been spitting on Hill’s deal-making for the last year.
There are still a lot of questions ranging from the interesting issue of North Korea cooperation with Syria’s alleged nuclear facility that was destroyed by Israel and other issues — but when President Bush gave Colin Powell the positive nod in the first week of April 2003 to proceed with the Six Party Talks, Bush and Cheney ignored Iran’s offer of a structure for normalized US-Iran relations the very same week in 2003.
The contrast in circumstances between where America is today with North Korea and where we are with Iran is vital to note. We ‘engaged’ North Korea and blew it with Iran.
Congrats to Christopher Hill, John Negroponte, Condoleezza Rice, the former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns and his successor William Burns. And for those who want to knock China around, they should know that this entire process was impossible without China’s impressive, collaborative diplomacy.
Barack Obama’s inclination towards engagement with problematic leaders around the world now is now buttressed by an experience of the George W. Bush administration. Too bad so much of the rest of America’s foreign policy portfolio didn’t get this same kind of attention.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

15 comments on “Chris Hill BEATS John Bolton: Bush Declares New Track for US-North Korea Relations

  1. Game Copy Wizard says:

    Article was written 3 years ago and now we can judge
    what is made and what is not. Actually in case we analyse current situation in USA – North Korea
    relations – no progress has been made. Last year
    this problem even ignored…

    Reply

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  4. Brandon Pavlov says:

    it’s better now once again to be gradually cracking away from NK’s nuclear program. however curing the bad impetus is not just like experienceing this seismic break-through some are these days stating. if reviews are to be believed, NK’s assertion has nothing upon it’s weapons holdings (neither in which the plutonium is), absolutely nothing upon enrichment, absolutely nothing on co-operation with syria… as well as we have provided or will give large chips — delisting from terrorism checklist, large aid payments, and much more.

    Reply

  5. Tom Smith says:

    It also give the Bushies some good news to trumpet, showing just how “reasonable” they are when the bad guys play ball. Gives John McCain some stuff to talk about in the foreign policy area where the MSM perceives him as strong.

    Reply

  6. Neville Arjani says:

    Steve Clemons post on Korea is more about smugness than clarity of thought. He beat the official announcement by two days because he has connections on the Hill. Wow! I’m impressed! He poses this as a personal Chris Hill vs. John Bolton slugfest. In actuality, John Bolton simply wants the right policy on Korea and couldn’t give a hoot about who’s running things at the White House — that’s left for those fascinated by little things. Only time will tell if this is not another deception by Kim and the Chinese — no amount of self-congratulations changes anything a bit. Finally, how does Steve Clemons equate this to Obama’s pledge to engage in talks personally. I’m rushing off to google Bush’s meeting with Kim. That’s what happens when you don’t read the papers every day.

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  7. David says:

    The Bush administration consciously undermined US-North Korean relations as soon as Bush took office. North Korea was taken aback that the new president did not feel any obligation to honor the negotiations of the previous president. I’m not defending Kim Jong Quite Il, but what the Bush administration did is no way to build a more stable world. I would still like to know who was behind undermining North Korea – South Korea detente, including by hammering the South Korean president with corruption charges.
    I personally suspect it was not seen as in the Bush administration’s interests at the time to see a peaceful re-united Korea. It would mean the loss of South Korea as a land base for projecting US power in the Far East.
    Yes, I’m equally as cynical about what happened in this instance as I am about some of KJI’s machinations, but at worst he is simply trying to survive, whereas we have a notion that we can and should be the military arbiters of everything everywhere on the planet, limiting ourselves only to what we determine to be in our “national interests.” It’s a time-honored, frequently successful model for the duration of any empire of any sort, but the world is not a place where that model can work any longer. The planet can no longer absorb the consequences of past or current models, at least not as the place in which we and other life forms have evolved to this point.
    The Bush administration took the old saw “Fighting the Last War” to catastrophic heights. Kudos to Chris Hill, but he just won a fairly insignificant victory when the scope and extent of major debacles is taken into consideration. What could make it significant is if it is the first small step toward a major revision of US foreign policy in a world in which war with Iran is seen as utterly unacceptable and incrementalism on climate change anathema.

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  8. John says:

    i’m not a big bolton fan, but on this he’s closer to being right than this post. sure amb hill has labored to reverse 4 years of at least partly self-inflicted national security harm. And yes, it’s better now again to be slowly chipping away at NK’s nuclear program. but reversing the negative momentum isn’t the same as achieving the seismic break-through some are today proclaiming. if reports are to be believed, NK’s declaration has nothing on its weapons holdings (nor where the plutonium is), nothing on enrichment, nothing on cooperation with syria… and we’ve given or will give big chips — delisting from terrorism list, large aid payments, and more. we were better off 1/21/2001 when we knew where the plutonium was, when yongbyong was at least mothballed, NK was in the NPT, and the IAEA was in NK at least monitoring the plutonium program.

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  9. Zathras says:

    If the North Koreans are not longer part of the Axis of Evil, does this mean they are now allies of niceness?

    Reply

  10. Linda says:

    Don,
    I only meant to say that on NPT, Geneva Conventions, and other international agreements, Bush Administration has selectively decided what parts to comply with and which to ignore. So on the international scene, that has turned US into a hegemonic giant that can’t be trusted. And domestically this Administration has done the same with the Constitution in many ways.
    I’m glad there still is a functioning State Department–just barely. But Karen Hughes was as disaster, and during the 1980s we did have cultural and scientific exchanges with USSR. So I personally am glad we have career diplomats like Chris Hill and the NY Philharmonic. But we never should have had an “axis of evil.”

    Reply

  11. Don Bacon says:

    The US left the NPT? Do tell, that’s news to me.

    Reply

  12. Linda says:

    It’s difficult for me personally to see this as such a great positive achievement since early in Bush Administration we withdrew from nuclear nonproliferation treaty. So we’ve lost almost a decade of progress. Chris Hill could have been working with North Korea all these years.
    All the mistakes, missteps and taking the country in the wrong direction for six years can’t be undone by a few limited successes in the last two years. And the last two terms of the Supreme Court have given us a lot of 5-4 decisions in the wrong direction. Roberts and Alito won’t be leaving SCOTUS on 1/20/09.

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    It seems that reports of the death of the State Department were premature. Foggy Bottom has a pulse! Good riddance to Burns (on Iran); huzzahs to Hill (on N. Korea).

    Reply

  14. DonS says:

    I’m all for positive interpretation, but could this not cut several ways? Including, could N. Korea’s “good”, albeit late, behavior be used as a foil by the Cheny-Bush to highlight a distinction with Iran, laying the ground work for “consequences” that come from failing to meet Bush’s terms, leading to possible attack?
    It also give the Bushies some good news to trumpet, showing just how “reasonable” they are when the bad guys play ball. Gives John McCain some stuff to talk about in the foreign policy area where the MSM perceives him as strong.
    The Chris Hill angle is interesting, if indeed it signals what Steve says it does. Maybe the administration needs to have Hill take on a larger negotiation oversight portfolio if they really want to signal interest in accommodation with, say, Iran.

    Reply

  15. lurker says:

    It’s very cool Steve to see you score news and information successes over and over again. This is good news, and your framing of this as being Bolton is priceless.

    Reply

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