Kim Jong Il “Sorry”


China must have pounded Kim Jong Il in private meetings to get the kind of confession of error he was reported to have made.
North Korea needs a deal — and so does the United States. The North Korea nuclear problem will require a high price to resolve, but it’s worth it. And if America fails to resolve the North Korea matter through a combination of diplomacy and potential coercion, then Iran will be emboldened to press harder against perceived American impotence.
A collapse in North Korea will be devastating for the region — so the best outcome would be a slow, incremental take-over of the governing order in North Korea by potential profiteers around Kim. We need a “Nixon Goes to China” approach for North Korea.
Shinzo Abe did his Nixonian trip to China. Now, America needs something like that with North Korea — maybe send the Bush family problem fixer James Baker — as soon as he finishes his Iraq work.
— Steve Clemons


13 comments on “Kim Jong Il “Sorry”

  1. Craig says:

    Last night, I caught the Kim Jong Il story about being ‘sorry’ and wondered if it was on the level. But if that nuclear test was a bust, and the other weapons (if they exist) are no better, than that might be the explanation.
    I note that briefly some officials in the Bush Administration seemed ready to suggest that North Korea had leaped from an ordinary plutonium bomb requiring an implosion device, which is very difficult to make in the first place, to a more complex device that could explode under 1 kiloton. That kind of overreaching paranoia seems typical of Cheney and his people.


  2. William Hallowell says:

    With all of this going on with Korea, Iraq, etc., it’s important to know where the public stands on the issue. Check this out…we have a new anxiety indicator that tells us a lot about American opinion regarding the current state of affairs.
    Here at Public Agenda, we’ve created a new tool to track Americans’ opinions on foreign policy issues, providing a basis for political commentary. Similar to the Consumer Confidence Index, the Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator provides policy makers, journalists and ordinary citizens with the public’s overall comfort level with America’s place in the world and current foreign policy.
    An essential tool updated twice a year, the Indicator will consistently provide much-needed information on the public’s perception of more than two dozen aspects of international relations.
    In a world strewn with violence and highly-charged international issues, Americans are broadly uneasy about U.S. foreign policy. The September 2006 shows the Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator at 130 on a scale of 0 to 200, where 0 is the most confident, 200 the most anxious and 100 neutral.
    Eight in 10 Americans feel the world is becoming a more dangerous place for Americans, yet they’re also skeptical about most of the possible solutions, such as creating democracies or global development. Only improved intelligence gathering and energy independence have substantial support, with energy firmly established as a national security problem
    for the public.
    In fact, the public lacks confidence in many of the measures being taken to ensure America’s security. Less than 33% of Americans give the U.S. government an “A” or a “B” grade for its execution of the following foreign policy issues: reaching goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, maintaining good relationships with Muslim countries and protecting U.S. borders from illegal immigration. And these are just a few of the findings of the survey.
    These are some of the other startling findings:
    – 83 percent say they are worried about the way things are going for the United States in world affairs (35 percent worry “a lot”, with an additional 48 percent saying they worry “somewhat.”)
    – 79 percent say the world is becoming more dangerous for the United States and the American people
    – 69 percent say the United States is doing a fair or poor job in creating a more peaceful and prosperous world
    – 64 percent say the rest of the world sees the United States negatively
    – 58 percent say U.S. relations with the rest of the world are on the wrong track
    Want to learn more? Go to to download the report.
    Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group devoted to public opinion and public policy. The confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index is developed in cooperation with Foreign Affairs with support from the Hewlett and Ford foundations.


  3. jf says:

    Great post.


  4. Pissed Off American says:

    Hey Zathras, how do you feel about MORNING “boozy rants”?
    I’ll tell ya, man, it amazes me that you people think that you can suggest logical or security minded policies to these criminals, or even ponder the posiblity that this administration might pursue them. Have you been asleep these last six years? You and Steve need to meet up at Starbucks, sip coffee, and solve the world’s problems. But don’t take to long, you might just miss the opportunity of watching the demise of our democracy.


  5. Zathras says:

    Doesn’t Steve’s renewed call for a Nixon Goes to China approach in this post miss the point of the report that inspired it?
    Now, the report may be wrong, or incomplete. But it’s impossible to imagine Kim Jong Il making anything close to an apology in response to anything but Chinese pressure. If it is Chinese pressure that has produced this from Kim, then maintaining a common front with China represents our best chance of success in negotiations with North Korea. And since the other powers in the region will object to negotiations that include China and exclude them, they have to be at the table as well — at talks based on the six-party format the administration has wanted all along.
    Of course the North Koreans object to this. They want prestige, and psychological reassurance, and great power status and all the rest of it. What we need to recognize is that by crossing the line and testing a nuclear weapon, Pyongyang has overreached, and opened an opportunity for the United States to sell the Chinese and other states in the region on the idea that this is not a problem they can just ignore while Washington deals with it. If it is truly isolated and cannot count on whatever material support from China it wants when it wants it, North Korea is a better bet to make a deal and to keep any deal it does make.


  6. Pissed Off American says:

    Why in God’s name does Steve think these fucking criminals in the Bush Administration are capable of ANY positive policies or interventions?? Again, when their only motive for action is the pursuit of wealth and power, how the hell can you expect policies borne of a true concern for national well being or security? These fucking traitors LIED this nation into a war, and are SHREDDING our constitution as we speak. Good God, 70 American soldiers have died THIS MONTH ALONE in Iraq, and we will never know how many Iraqis died because the bloody bastards don’t think they are important enough to count. Yet Steve mewls this constant stream of policy suggestions as if these inept fascist criminals will actually work in our, or the world community’s, best interests. Meanwhile you have hand picked military yes-men drooling terrifying bullshit like “Rumsfeld is inspired by God”, and people like Blackwell are purging voter rolls of tens of thousands of registered demmocrat voters, and Diebold has been PROVEN to be purposelly manufacturing hackable software with back door access.
    There is no profit for the industrial military complex in a peaceful resolution of the N.Korean situation. It is a problem that requires WHEAT, not cluster bombs. And America doesn’t do wheat anymore. In Bushworld, we only torture and attack. Its the new American Way.


  7. Punchy says:

    What I find amazing…and sad…is that very, very few of us can actually imagine our president going to Korea and engaging in talks. Whether it’s because of Bush’s inability to ad lib intelligently, or because Bush lacks the intellect to fully understand the history of the region, or because he’s just so damn disinterested in being President…
    I simply just cannot envision Bush being able to handle ANY important negotiation, conference, or summit. And that’s sad, being that he’s running the most powerful country on Earth.


  8. Arun says:

    If China is the rising new power, the North Korean problem is for China to handle. Sure, the rest of the world can help – but it is necessary to see whether China can handle the responsibilities that go with power.


  9. km4 says:

    > maybe send the Bush family problem fixer James Baker — as soon as he finishes his Iraq work.
    Why… there’s no oil in North Korea and no opportunity to rip off American taxpayers and make big $$$
    Another company with a vested interest in both war on Iraq and massively increased defense spending is the Carlyle Group. Carlyle, a private global investment firm with more than $12.5 billion in capital under management, was formed in 1987. Its interests are spread across 164 companies, including telecommunications firms and defense contractors. It is staffed at the highest levels by former members of the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. Former President George H. W. Bush is himself employed by Carlyle as a senior advisor, as is long-time Bush family advisor and former Secretary of State James Baker III.
    Bush’s Grand Game: A “PNAC Primer” UPDATE
    Wednesday, 5 April 2006,
    by Bernard Weiner
    George W. Bush was moved into the White House in January of 2001. Shortly thereafter, a report, “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century,” was commissioned from the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy — yep, that James Baker, the Bush consigliore. The report advocated a more aggressive U.S. posture in the world and called for a “reassessment of the role of energy in American foreign policy,” with access to oil repeatedly cited as a “security imperative.” It’s possible that inside Cheney’s secret energy-panel papers, which he refuses to release to Congress or the American people, are references to foreign-policy plans for how to gain military control of oilfields across the globe. We do know now that maps were rolled out at those energy-panel meetings, which detailed which foreign oil-companies might get a slice of the Iraq oil pie.
    Screw Jim Baker….


  10. Rebolting says:

    Can we lock Bolton in a closet while cooler heads work this thing out?
    It’s encouraging to see Hope reenter the discussion, but she always heads for the exit when Bolton approaches.


  11. Steve says:

    You can email President Bush, VP Cheney, Congressional Leaders & Rush Limbaugh from my eclectic homepage. Check it out here…


  12. jonst says:

    Steve wrote: “A collapse in North Korea will be devastating for the region”,. I would say its non-collapse has been “devastating” for the people in the region. Especially the ones in NK.
    As for “slow, incremental” change. You may be correct (I doubt it…but you may)but its sure tough on the ones that are going to die in the meantime.
    Why not this? Why not stay the hell out of matter…other than assuring Japan on our treaty obligations? Why not get the friggin hell out of Korea and leave it to the Asians powers to resolve? Why the hell do we have to have a say in everything? Especially since our “say” is often devoid of any understanding of the issues and peoples in question.
    Its just more of the same Pax Americana.


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