Although diplomatic hindsight is 20/20, several recent tweets @LiberateLaura have reflected the view that if George W. Bush had done things a little differently while in office, President Obama might not be dealing this year with a belligerent Kim Jong-il.
First up was former Japanese Ambassador to Thailand Hisahiko Okazaki. In a Sunday, May 24th Op Ed piece @Japan_Times, he wrote that if Bush had maintained for an additional year harsh sanctions imposed against North Korea in 2006 by the U.S. and Japan, Kim Jong-il would have likely been forced into making major concessions. Instead, he says without properly consulting Japan, the U.S. State Department lifted a freeze on North Korea’s Macau bank accounts and removed the country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
A few days later, via a Tuesday May 26th interview @The_Takeaway, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton echoed Okazaki’s thoughts. The exclusion of North Korea from international financial markets, a tactic reputedly now being considered by the Obama administration, was a “big opportunity” that Bush gave up on too soon.
Finally, in an Op Ed dated Thursday, May 28th, South Korea’s major daily @Chosun_Ilbo argues that because Bush previously chucked the Geneva Agreed Framework forged in 1994 with North Korea by President Clinton, its neighbor to the north will doubt the validity of any Obama deal.
The point of all this is not to tar and feather a former Commander-in-Chief. Rather, it is simply to remind those on the far right castigating Obama for his handling of a despot willing to go all-in with a pair of innocent American journalists that any “fair and balanced” criticism should include a clear understanding of how we got here.