Friday, June 17, 2005

"Tough" Foreign Policy

Charles Dodgson discusses us a brief excerpt from an Atlantic article about North Korea. He writes:

The newest Atlantic has an article wargaming the current North Korea mess. This is, you'll recall, a situation where Dubya came in denouncing Clinton's soft policy on negotiations, and instituted a new "get tough" policy -- the result of which is that the North Koreans now have, at least, several more nukes than they had when he entered office.

But, say Dubya's defenders, the Koreans were cheating on their deal with clinton. Replies the guy who negotiated with the Koreans for Clinton:

Excuse me. The Soviets cheated on virtually every deal we ever made with them, but we were still better off with the deal than without it. ...

When the Clinton folks went out of office, the North Koreans had only the plutonium they had separated in the previous Bush administration. Now they've got a whole lot more. What did all this "tough" shit give us? It gave us a much more capable North Korea. Terrific!

Advocates of "get tough" policies generally push the line that they're being "hard-nosed" and "realistic". But a genuinely hard-nosed assessment of your options looks more like this:

I'm not interested in teaching other people lessons. I'm interested in the national security of the United States. If that's what you're interested in, are you better off with this deal or without it?

If you're being genuinely realistic, you do one thing. If you're convinced that the other guy will inevitably bow before your large swinging dick if you just wave it around enough, you do something else.