Elite Policy and the “Axis of Evil” By Noam Chomsky

Dandelion Salad

By Noam Chomsky
Z Magazine 05/01/08

“Good News,” Iraq and Beyond Part 2

Having brought up Iran [in Part 1], we might as well turn briefly to the third member of the famous Axis of Evil, North Korea. The official story right now is that after having been forced to accept an agreement on dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities, North Korea is again trying to evade its commitments in its usual devious way—”good news” for superhawks like John Bolton, who have held all along that the North Koreans understand only the mailed fist and will exploit negotiations only to trick us. A New York Times headline reads: “U.S. Sees Stalling by North Korea on Nuclear Pact” (January 19). The article by Helene Cooper details the charges. In the last paragraph we discover that the U.S. has not fulfilled its pledges. North Korea has received only 15 percent of the fuel that was promised by the U.S. and others and the U.S. has not undertaken steps to improve diplomatic relations, as promised. Several weeks later (February 6), in the McClatchey press Kevin Hall reported that the chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea, Christopher Hill, confirmed in Senate Hearings that “North Korea has slowed the dismantling of its nuclear reactor because it hasn’t received the amount of fuel oil it was promised.”

As we learn from the specialist literature, and asides here and there, this is a consistent pattern. North Korea may have the worst government in the world, but they have been pursuing a pragmatic tit-for-tat policy on negotiations with the United States. When the U.S. takes an aggressive and threatening stance, they react accordingly. When the U.S. moves towards some form of accommodation, so do they.

When Bush came into office, both North Korea and the U.S. were bound by the Framework Agreement of 1994. Neither was fully in accord with its commitments, but the agreement was largely being observed. North Korea had stopped testing long-range missiles. It had perhaps one to two bombs worth of plutonium and was verifiably not making more. After seven Bush years of confrontation, North Korea had eight to ten bombs and long-range missiles, and was developing plutonium. The Clinton administration Korea specialist, Bruce Cumings, reports the Administration “had also worked out a plan to buy out, indirectly, the North’s medium and long-range missiles; it was ready to be signed in 2000 but Bush let it fall by the wayside and today the North retains all its formidable missile capability.”

The reasons for Bush’s achievements are well understood. The Axis of Evil speech, a serious blow to Iranian democrats and reformers as they have stressed, also put North Korea on notice that the U.S. was returning to its threatening stance. Washington released intelligence reports about North Korean clandestine programs; these were conceded to be dubious or baseless when the latest negotiations began in 2007, probably, commentators speculated, because it was feared that weapons inspectors might enter North Korea and the Iraq story would be repeated. North Korea responded by ratcheting up missile and weapons development.



“Good News,” Iraq and Beyond By Noam Chomsky

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  1. Pingback: Intro to Chomsky by Anthony Arnove « Dandelion Salad

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