If it weren’t so sad and infuriating it would be funny. The North Korean dictatorship violates international agreements and U.N. resolutions by shooting off (incompetently, but that’s irrelevant) a rocket. So the United States declares: Let the United Nations handle this! And the United Nations does nothing. I know, you’re shocked, just shocked to find there is no will to punish the North Korean tyrants.
Twice over the past six years, North Korea has set off nuclear tests after failed rocket launches sparked international outcry and, later, economic sanctions. On Friday, at an emergency meeting, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement that censored North Korea’s launch — widely perceived as a thinly veiled ballistic missile test — but stopped well short of any imposing new penalties on Pyongyang.
U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice, with unintentional hilarity, declared: “Members of the Security Council agree to continue consultations on an appropriate response.” Well, that’s nice. We wouldn’t want the “international community,” as it has done with Syria, to do nothing, projecting weakness and encouraging despotic regimes to ignore empty threats.
The Obama administration, true to type, decided to drag President George W. Bush into this. No, seriously. Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reports:
“What this administration has done is broken the cycle of rewarding provocative actions by the North Koreans that we’ve seen in the past,” said Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes, speaking to reporters on Air Force One Friday. . . .
Rhodes argued that the Obama administration’s stance was tougher than George W. Bush’s, given that Bush’s top negotiator Chris Hill held several rounds of protracted negotiations with North Korea and even got North Korea to sign an agreement in 2005 to end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security and economic guarantees from the West.
Let’s agree that the Bush administration was as ineffective as the Clinton administration in dealing with Pyongyang. Are we now grading on a curve? It’s embarrassing for the Obama administration’s defense of its failed policy to amount to: Bush was worse.
This is emblematic of the entire Obama foreign policy: Engage tyrants; ignore widespread and horrific human rights abuses; engagement fails; Obama defers to international bodies; inaction prevails; and the despotic regimes grow more aggressive. You don’t even need a program to follow the Obama kabuki dance.
We can debate whether this approach is designed to get Obama re-elected (i.e. avoid conflict at all cost) or whether it represents Obama’s deeply held (and misguided) views regarding American power and influence in the world (i.e. less American leadership the better, as far as he is concerned). Perhaps both are involved. It would explain why Obama is so insistent on frittering away American prestige and power while letting our enemies run amok.