By Brian Lockhart
May 25, 2007
STAMFORD — Character actor and former Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson’s next role is as president — he’s playing Ulysses S. Grant in the HBO film “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”
But Thompson last night did not end speculation about his possible run for the White House.
“All right, let’s get the announcement out of the way,” Thompson told the crowd of 600 GOP faithful at the Stamford Sheraton on Summer Street. ” ‘Law and Order’ will return for an 18th season.”
Since retiring from Congress in 2002, Thompson, 64, has played a New York City district attorney on the NBC police drama. He was the keynote speaker last night at the annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner, where Riverside venture capitalist L. Scott Frantz received the top honor.
Thompson, a conservative from Tennessee inspired by the Barry Goldwater book “Conscience of a Conservative,” sought to rally party members for next year’s national elections.
“There’s a rumbling out in the country, my friends. I think they’re calling to us,” Thompson said.
State Party Chairman Christopher Healy believes Thompson will enter the race.
“He’s doing all the right things for a guy who is running,” Healy said.
Thompson has been making several speaking appearances and is also blogging on issues, including his opposition to the immigration bill.
And Wednesday, Bob Schieffer, the CBS News chief Washington correspondent, was quoted as saying: “I think he is very close to announcing he is going to run É I am told by people around him that he has made the decision. It’s just a question of when he’s going to announce.”
Healy said he invited Thompson to be guest speaker because he is “a rising star.
“It doesn’t hurt to come to a northeast state and try out your message,” said, adding: “I’ve got to sell tickets.”
Dinner guests such as Sen. William Nickerson, R-Greenwich, said Thompson clearly accepted the invitation to make inroads amongst northeastern Republicans. He will have to compete with the more moderate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who have already announce their candidacies.
“He’s not here for the food,” Nickerson said. “He’s here to test the waters, make contacts, listen to people.”
Although he served in the Senate from 1994 to 2002, Thompson is probably best recognized now as the towering, grim-faced actor who has played a variety of authority figures in movies such as “The Hunt for Red October,” the “Cape Fear” remake, “In the Line of Fire,” “Die Hard II,” and, most recently, on “Law and Order.”
He told the crowd last night that, when asked why he left the Senate, he responds: “After eight years in Washington, I long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood. That’s no joke, my friends.”
Thompson railed in his southern drawl against “the pork-barrel spending and corruption” in Washington.
He mostly targeted the Democratic majority, but said some Republicans are also to blame. He said the party has been making compromises on issues like immigration and the Iraq war over fear of losing more seats in Congress.
“I think (the American people) want our leadership,” Thompson said. “What should we do? Get our own house in order É We can’t make decisions (that are) not in the best interests of our country.”
He said America is beset by a variety of challenges, from government inefficiencies, to “entitlement programs (that are) bankrupting the next generation,” to protecting citizens from terrorists.
“We’re living in a nation beset by suicidal maniacs,” Thompson said, launching into criticism of the immigration bill.
A strong supporter of the Iraq war, Thompson criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for publicly stating the war has been lost — “fine, fine message to those people giving their lives for us” — and the Democrats for debating a timetable for “surrender.
“Al-Qaida have a 100-year plan,” Thompson said. “We have a plan until the next election.”
Thompson also reiterated his support for President Bush’s tax cuts, which have particularly benefited many of the lower Fairfield County residents who sat in the audience last night.
Thompson was introduced by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who probably best summarized the challenges the conservative faces in wooing northeastern Republicans.
Rell said on “Law and Order,” Thompson has performed one of the greatest acting jobs in history — “Convincing television viewers a southern boy can be elected district attorney in New York City.”
Fiery Anti-U.S. Cleric Reappears in Iraq
Friday May 25, 2007 6:31 PM
AP Photo BAG108, AMMA102, BAG101
By RAVI NESSMAN
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) – Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr appeared in public for the first time in months on Friday, delivering a fiery anti-American sermon to thousands of followers and demanding U.S. troops leave Iraq.
It was not immediately clear why he chose to return now to his base in the Shiite holy city of Najaf from Iran. His speech had new nationalist overtones, calling on Sunnis to join with him in the fight against the U.S. presence. He also criticized the government’s inability to provide reliable services to its people.
Al-Sadr’s reappearance, four months after he went underground at the start of the U.S.-led Baghdad security crackdown, came just hours before his Mahdi Army militia lost its top commander in the southern city of Basra in a gunbattle with British soldiers, Iraqi police said.
British military spokeswoman Capt. Katie Brown said Iraqi special forces carried out the operation with British troops in “a supporting role.” Brown declined to reveal more about the shooting, saying details would have to come from the Iraqis.
The 33-year-old al-Sadr is believed to be honing plans to consolidate political gains and foster ties with Iran – and possibly trying to take advantage of the absence of a major rival, Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and went to Iran for treatment.
The U.S. military also announced Friday that six U.S. soldiers were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq in recent days. The deaths put May on pace to be one of the deadliest months for U.S. forces here in years.
Al-Sadr traveled in a long motorcade from Najaf to the adjacent holy city of Kufa on Friday morning to deliver his sermon before 6,000 worshippers.
“No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel,” he chanted in a call and response with the audience at the start of his speech.
He repeated his long-standing call for U.S. forces to leave Iraq.
“We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal,” he said. “I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation even for a single day.”
He also condemned fighting between his Mahdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces, saying it “served the interests of the occupiers.” Instead, he said the militia should turn to peaceful protests, such as demonstrations and sit-ins, he said.
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe expressed hope that al-Sadr’s reappearance signaled that he wanted “to play a positive role inside Iraq.”
“He has an opportunity to be a part of the political reconciliation process. We’ll see if he and his followers participate,” he said.
Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army fought U.S. troops to a virtual standstill in 2004, but to avoid renewed confrontation he ordered his militants off the streets when the U.S. began its security crackdown in the Baghdad area 14 weeks.
His associates say his strategy is based partly on a belief that Washington will soon start reducing troop strength, leaving a void in Iraq’s security and political power structure that he can fill.
Al-Sadr also believes that Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government may soon collapse under its failure to improve security, services and the economy, al-Sadr’s aides say. A political reshuffle would give the Sadrist movement, with its 30 seats in the 275-member parliament, an opportunity to become a major player.
In a move that could hasten the collapse, al-Sadr pulled his supporters out of al-Maliki’s government last month over the prime minister’s refusal to call for a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.
The Mahdi Army received a severe blow Friday when its Basra leader, Wissam al-Waili, 23, also known as Abu Qadir, was shot and killed along with his brother and two aides during a battle with Iraqi special forces backed by British troops Friday afternoon, police said.
The battle began about 4 p.m. when the Iraqi and British forces attempted to arrest al-Waili after he left a mosque in Jumhoriyah, a middle class, residential area in central Basra, police and Brown said. Al-Waili and his three companions opened fire and were killed when the British troops shot back, police said.
Meanwhile, three U.S. soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in the capital and the surrounding areas, the military said Friday. Two others were killed in explosions north of Baghdad, and a sixth soldier was hit by gunfire in the volatile Diyala province, the military said.
The killings raised the American death toll for the month to at least 88. Last month, 104 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq.
Military officials have warned that U.S. casualties were likely to rise as more troops deployed to Iraq and the military pushed ahead with its Baghdad security crackdown.
“We have more people on the ground, this leads to an opportunity for more contact, more conflict, more clashes,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.
The time for taboos is over. We have to talk about the way in which immigration will change the United States and the world.
In particular, much of the world has never understood why the United States gives such warm support to besieged democracies — like Israel, Taiwan, Poland during the Cold War, a near-dead Britain during the Nazi Blitz, the Free French, and many other democracies under assault. Today Europeans pretend not to understand why we overthrew the Nazi-clone Saddam Hussein — even though they continue to benefit from our actions against the Nazis and Soviets, every single minute of their self-indulgent lives.
Many Muslims come from utterly indoctrinated countries in the Middle East, where Jew-hatred and anti-democratic ideology are daily fare, pervading radio, TV, newspapers, and the educational system. Wall-to-wall propaganda works. Single individuals cannot withstand total saturation of their lives by ideologies of hatred. All Arab countries, Iran and Turkey, have shown the TV soap opera version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on their state-sponsored television channels, to wild applause. http://www.memri.org
Yet millions of Muslims are eager to move to the United States, in good part to make America more like the societies they are leaving.
The crucial question is: Will immigrants become Americans? Or will they turn this country into Europe or the Third World? Because that is their clearly stated intention — ranging from Mexican Azatlan nationalists, to Muslims, and to European socialists. They have all been taught that America is evil, but they still want to come here to make us enlightened — by their standards. Liberal legislation is designed to do exactly that.
Steven A. Camarota is the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies. His 2003 essay, The Muslim Wave: Dealing with Immigration from the Middle East is required reading in the crucial time of debate on the Senate immigration bill.
“… continued Mideast immigration appears likely to lead to changes in U.S. policy, as elected officials respond to Muslim Americans’ growing electoral importance. Their increasing political influence was evident earlier this year when three Democratic House members from Michigan, whose districts contain fast-growing Arab immigrant communities, were among only 21 members voting against a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel against terrorism.”
This is four years later, and we need to think and act clearly about the coming decades for America.
As Camarota pointed out:
Reducing legal immigration from the Mideast is a sensible policy, but the only way this could ever happen would be the enactment of an immigration cap that would apply across the board – to all immigrants, wherever they might hail from. The same holds for efforts to deal with illegal immigration: Given limited resources, in a time of war, it makes sense – over the short term – to pursue with special vigor those immigration-law violators who are Middle Easterners. But over the long term, such a policy would be unfair and politically unsustainable. Reducing the overall immigration level is the wisest plan, for the decades to come.
But we have not succeeded in regulating immigration in any sensible fashion. Current legislation may triple legal immigration. The Senate bill proponents are now trying to silence and twist rational opposition.
Don’t accept any taboos on free speech when it concerns the vital future of this country — which is still, as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, the “last, best hope of mankind.”
Please let it remain that.
James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com
The left wing UK Guardian reports that Iran’s economy is facing severe difficulty, as President Ahmadinejad ham-handedly (oops! I mean mutton-handedly) intervenes in the economy, defying the law of supply and demand, in addition to sharia law.
Iran’s financial system suffered a fresh jolt yesterday with panic selling on the stock market after the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, abruptly ordered banks to cut interest rates sharply, despite surging inflation.
The order, which Mr Ahmadinejad issued by telephone during a visit to Belarus and which flew in the face of expert advice – has triggered warnings of a financial crisis and spiralling corruption amid fears of a capital flight from the country’s lending institutions.
Interest rates? Even kufr like me knows that the Prophet passed on the word from Allah that charging interest is a no-no. I am not sure whether the punishment is cutting off a hand, pushing a wall over on the miscreant, or gang-raping his sister. But it definitely is such a no-no that various “Islamic banks” have been set up with elaborate schemes of purchase and future sale-back at a fixed higher price to charge interest without looking like you are charging interest.
That little problem aside, the economic policy is madness.
The interest rate move theoretically helps the less-well-off, for whom Mr Ahmadinejad has pledged support with cheaper loans. But economists say cutting rates below inflation will scare investors into withdrawing their savings, thereby creating a black market in high interest loans. They also warn of higher inflation as investors redirect their money into property and push up house prices.
“Mr Ahmadinejad’s argument is that the lower the interest rate, the more access people will have to money,” said one analyst. “But you can’t command interest rates down. They have to match inflation. To cut rates, the government has to balance its budget better.”
Another economist, Saeed Leylaz, claimed the move was a reward to powerful groups who had supported Mr Ahmadinejad. “I believe the president knows the consequence of this decision but he doesn’t care about the future.”
Ahmadinejad may be figuring that since the Twelfth Imam is coming shortly, the future doesn’t matter much. In the meantime, it is going to be very hard to find any money to borrow without going to loan sharks. Which means a lot of businesses will be closing their doors, and a lot more people will be unemployed. But his friends who have massive debts will get richer, and that’s what really matters.
Hat tip: Joseph Crowley
“We cannot have a situation where (North Korea) pretends to abandon their nuclear program and we pretend to believe them.”
Sounds good and tough, doesn’t it? But does Christopher Hill defend his actions when he does exactly what he decries: promoting an agreement based on a naïve pretense? Here’s another question for discussion: can anyone name the last – or first – time North Korea abided by any agreement to stop any aggressive actions, including WMD research, killing, counterfeiting, kidnapping, abducting, or threatening someone?
In the 1953 Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War, Kim Il Sung agreed to release all prisoners of war, American and South Korean alike. Yet nearly 60 years later South Korean POW’s are still escaping from North Korean captivity. The South Korean government thinks the North Koreans kept several thousand of its soldiers behind, 500 of whom may still live. It was known that more than 300 Americans were held captive when Operation Little Switch marked the end of POW exchanges. Their fate is unknown today.
In 1992, under growing international pressure over its 5-Megawatt plutonium reactor at Yongbyon, Kim Il Sung signed the International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement. That same year, he signed an agreement with the South Koreans under which both Koreas and the United States pledged to keep the peninsula free of nuclear weapons.
The United States promptly and visibly removed its nuclear arsenal from South Korea, even as defectors reported that North Korea had disassembled a nuclear reactor and hid it in tunnels. U.S. satellites detected more suspicious tunnels near Yongbyon. And the CIA uncovered evidence that North Korea had bought electron beam furnaces from Germany for its nuclear weapons program. We’ve since found evidence that North Korea transferred nuclear technology and materials to Iran, Pakistan, Libya, and perhaps Syria.
In 1993, North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and committed itself to “the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” although its reactor has never been connected to the national electrical grid. In 1994, Jimmy Carter brokered the first ill-fated Agreed Framework, in which the North reaffirmed its agreement to “a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.” That same year, reports began to emerge that North Korea also had an undisclosed uranium enrichment program.
In 1998, according to the New York Times, North Korea may actually have conducted its first nuclear test in the Pakistani desert. By 1999, a leaked Energy Department report concluded that North Korea was enriching uranium to build nuclear weapons. The Clinton Administration chose to ignore the uranium evidence during its final years in power, but in 2002, the North Koreans admitted their guilt to two U.S. diplomats and three State Department translators. Now they’re back to denying it again.
We should not be surprised that North Korea historically does not keep its word. We should be surprised that so many intelligent people expected anything else. If the definition of repeating the same activity and expecting a different result is “insanity,” then the Bush Administration and all the pundits who support this new agreement are candidates for psychotherapy.
Predictably, more than a month has passed since North Korea reneged on every promise it made in the February 13th denuclearization agreement: to shut down the Yongbyon reactor; to invite U.N. inspectors back in; to “discuss” the full range of its nuclear programs; and to appear for another session of six-party talks. And yet wounded souls on the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times that for years advocated the same capitulation the Bush Administration inexplicably offered three months ago, now ask with breaking voices, why do they cheat us?
Why would they possibly be motivated to do otherwise? North Korea cheats us because it works! The North Koreans see negotiations with us as simply war by other means, and we always let them win. North Korea’s long record of success at gaining aid and other benefits from the United States in return for nothing could have ended in 2002, during the presidency of a nominal conservative, but it did not end because President Bush decided to preserve a living museum to the Clinton Administration within his State Department. Under two Secretaries of State who were neither conservative nor well-read on the North Koreans, men like Nicholas Burns, Richard Armitage, (initially) Jack Pritchard, and Christopher Hill set out to create a new Agreed Framework, based on the theory that it would turn out differently than the last one because Kim Jong Il would yield to their special powers of moral suasion.
Conservatives, like John Bolton who wanted to hasten the regime’s terminal disease by undermining it economically and politically firmly opposed this appeasement-oriented policy. For several years, the result was gridlock. No bold new policy initiative could survive the objections of the appeasement wing, on one hand, or the regime change wing, on the other. Instead, the United States rounded up three other nations in the region (China, South Korea, Russia) to work together to undermine our interests – and Japan , which was the lone exception – to construct the infamous Six Party Talks. But all the meeting and all the talking never inspired the North Koreans to do anything but stall, obfuscate, and make absurd demands at which the diplomats would cluck their tongues and cable Washington for the authority to agree.
For a brief moment, we seemed to have gotten wise. It began in August of 2005, with a news story about a garish Chinese mob wedding in America, with dozens of the dons and captains in attendance. This “wedding” ended with most of the guests in federal custody and $5 million in high-quality North Korean $100 “supernotes” seized, their origin later confirmed by the sworn testimony of a cooperating witness. In October, the feds indicted Sean Garland, the leader of a far-left IRA splinter faction, for conspiring to circulate large amounts of North Korean “supernotes” in England. News reports, fed by leaks from knowledgeable officials, began describing North Korea’s operation in extraordinary detail: its procurement of special intaglio printing presses and color-shifting ink, and even the location of Printing House Number Six in the city of Pyongsong, where the notes are believed to be printed. These revelations embarrassed Kim Jong Il, but mere shame has never harmed him.
But on September 7th, the Treasury Department’s Web site published a notice of intent to designate the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia as an “entity of special concern” for money laundering under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. For at least a decade, Banco Delta was the most important link between Kim Jong Il and his foreign income and assets, and this designation would essentially deny Banco Delta access to the international finance system. Treasury suspected that North Korea was using Banco Delta to launder money earned through criminal enterprises such as counterfeiting, and as a financial clearinghouse for monies received from its WMD proliferation operations.
That week, perhaps not coincidentally, the North Koreans finally decided – after a long absence – to return to Six-Party nuclear talks. On September 19, 2005, they even agreed in principle to dismantling their nuclear programs, although the deal contained few specifics and the North Koreans still denied having a uranium program. In any event, they renounced its terms within 24 hours. The following day, to save itself from financial ruin, Banco Delta Asia blocked $25 in North Korean funds, where they had been trapped ever since. This sum, by itself, was not large, but the action’s downstream effects were immense.
By December of 2005, North Korean front companies, with no means to recoup their often-illegal earnings, began fleeing Macau en masse. Many reportedly went to the Chinese mainland. The following February, Kim Jong Il reportedly told Chinese President Hu Jintao that he feared the collapse of his government. The Asian Wall Street Journal reported that Treasury’s action had “dealt a severe blow to the secretive country,” “dried up its financial system,” and “brought foreign trade virtually to an end.”
In April, Treasury claimed that the designation of Banco Delta was having a “snowballing … avalanche effect” on North Korea as other banks sought to cut their ties, creating “huge pressure” on the regime. Treasury pursued North Korea’s assets to banks in Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, and elsewhere. Banks in all of these countries also closed or blocked North Korean accounts. Pressure mounted. Kim Jong Il even began selling off his nation’s gold reserves, much of it mined in his slave labor camps, particularly Camp 15 (Yodok) and Camp 77 (Dancheon). Still, North Korea had effectively lost most of its access to international finance.
Kim Jong Il’s regime might not have survived 2006 without massive aid from China and from America’s nominal ally South Korea, currently led by the leftist President Roh Moo Hyun. South Korean opposition lawmakers recently leaked figures showing that the South has given the North nearly $7 billion in aid since 1994. By its own admission, South Korea has little idea where or for what North Korea spent that money. Noting that monies are fungible, during that same period, Kim Jong Il bought 18 new submarines, 1,000 artillery pieces, dozens of MiGs, and, of course, expended his nuclear capability.
Concomitant with this economic bail-out from South Korea and huge arms buy by the North, between 1 million and 2.5 million North Koreans died from famine. Among survivors the percentage who are chronically malnourished doubled, to about 35%. Since Roh’s 2002 inauguration, South Korea has increased its aid to the North at a geometric rate. One report claims that the South is now providing a staggering 46% of the North’s foreign exchange. This year, South Korea will funnel approximately $1 billion to Kim Jong Il; in contrast, it will contribute just $780 million, or 38%, of the cost U.S. taxpayers will pay to keep 29,500 troops in South Korea. This means that U.S. taxpayers may indirectly be paying for the same North Korean weapons they’re also paying to deter. Kafka could not have written such an absurdity. Yet the United States could have dealt with this problem if it had the will to do so.
The same financial measures that destroyed Banco Delta, combined with tools like Executive Orders 13,224 and 13,382, could also have been employed against the Kaesong Industrial Park and the Kumgang Tourist Project, South Korea’s two main vehicles for funneling cash directly to Kim Jong Il’s regime. America could also have made the South’s support for North Korea a condition of keeping US troops on South Korean soil. (That presence, though economically beneficial to South Korea, is a strategic anachronism, as well as a great risk and a massive political liability for the United States. Roh used South Korean hostility against our soldiers to win election, and members of his cabinet and party frequently and quite deliberately use heated anti-American rhetoric to bolster their own popularity among their extreme left constituents and to harden South Korea’s position in its negotiations with the United States. For more on that, start at page 58 of this document.)
Still, the growing effect of Treasury’s effort must have caused Kim Jong Il considerable desperation, if one judges by his reaction. Provocations like his July 2006 missile tests and his technically unsuccessful October 2006 nuclear test brought down U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718. These remarkably strong resolutions outlawed several more important sources of foreign exchange for North Korea, including arms sales. Japan and Australia soon imposed their own sanctions. Oddly, however, the United States never imposed significant sanctions of its own. It did not even re-impose the sanctions President Clinton eased in exchange for North Korea’s moratorium on missile launches. This marked a failure or abandonment of the vaunted Six Party approach – or was it merely a diplomatic convenience for capitulation?
North Korea’s belligerence and the impact of our financial pressure on the regime ought to have broken the factional gridlock within the Bush Administration, but it was the elections of November 2006 that appear to have broken it instead. This is a strange development, given the near-absence of North Korea as an election issue and the fact that North Korea was emerging as an ideal example of effective pressure on a genocidal tyrant through multilateral “soft power,” with even the U.N. playing a constructive role for once (thanks to pressure from then- UN Ambassador John Bolton). It was almost as if the election loss so shocked the Bush administration that it caved on every initiative across the board, including Korea.
You may ask what, if not denuclearization, we have gained from this extraordinary surrender of effective leverage. The good news is that Kim Jong Il will stop laundering the proceeds of counterfeiting and drug dealing. The bad news is that we’ve agreed to launder it for him. At section 1957 of the United States Criminal Code is one of the two main laws that our prosecutors use to prosecute money laundering. It prohibits transactions in criminally derived property:
Whoever [in the United States or in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States] knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
Author Josh Stanton was present on February 27th to hear Christopher Hill tell Congress that “law enforcement will not be compromised,” but if diplomacy is the art of being disingenuous without crossing the line to perjury, and if Mr. Hill did not perjure himself, then he certainly is an excellent diplomat. Senior officials of our State Department have just about concluded a more-or-less open conspiracy, hammered out with the North Koreans in New York that would land any of us in a federal penitentiary for international money laundering. Another statute, section 1956, contains a list of “specified unlawful activities,” of which counterfeiting is one, and drug dealing another. A detailed Treasury Department report has dispelled most doubt that these funds are largely “criminally derived property,” or, as one unnamed U.S. official said last fall, “It is all one big criminal enterprise. You can’t separate it out.”
Thank goodness for prosecutorial discretion, because we seem to have struck the outlines of a deal under which the $25 million will be transferred to an American bank – Wachovia Bank, according to several press reports – which will then give Kim Jong Il the free use of that money. One can only speculate on how he would spend it, although the millions of his people who struggle each day to feed their children on starvation rations shouldn’t expect to see any of it.
Along with America’s own money laundering laws, the bureaucrats are also shredding two U.N. resolutions for whose passage America presumably expended considerable political capital less than a year ago. Resolution 1695 required those transferring funds to North Korea to “exercise vigilance” to assure that Kim Jong Il could not use those funds for WMD programs. Resolution 1718, passed in October after North Korea’s nuclear test, required those funding North Korea to “ensure” that their money would not go for those banned purposes, for major weapons systems, or for luxury goods for Kim Jong Il’s elite. In April of 2007, hardly anyone noticed when the State Department tacitly green-lighted a large North Korean arms deal with the Ethiopians, something that was undeniably a violation of 1718. Proponents of multilateral diplomacy have just lowered the bar for a U.N. resolution’s shelf life to six months.
After six years of internecine struggle between the State Department establishment and conservatives over the course of George W. Bush’s Korea policy, the establishment finally prevailed in 2007. Yes, it’s likely that the North Koreas will shut down Yongbyon in due course. According to diplomatic chatter, “shut down” may mean something as superficial as putting yellow tape over the front door so that the diplomats can claim victory. The reactor, built in the 1960’s, is a decrepit wreck anyway, and the North Koreans are building a much larger one.
Yes, they may even let in U.N. inspectors. After all, they’ve thrown them out. But when it comes to key tests of good faith like admitting its uranium program and agreeing to an aggressive inspections program, the February 13th Agreed Framework buries those details in “working groups” to be carried out by low-level working groups that seem designed to attract little attention from the press.
Any discussion of human rights, demanded by the 2005 North Korea Human Righs Act, including North Korea’s infamous concentration camps and Kim’s use of food as a weapon of political cleansing, will be buried in yet another anonymous working group whose actual function will be to smooth the way for full normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations. The State Department seems to be counting on having these discussions below the media radar, preferably buried amid reporting about Iraq or the 2008 elections.
By the time the North Koreans make their intention to renege plain to those who still refuse to see it, President Bush will be at the end of his tenure. Bush will likely try to exit office under the cover of an illusion that he has “solved” the North Korea problem, while the professional diplomatic class will pray that the next president will be even more deferential.
What about the State Department’s “realists,” who have invested their credibility in an arms control agreement grounded on Kim Jong Il’s honesty, China’s good faith, and South Korea’s loyalty? They will continue to skate through their careers unchallenged by outside authority and confident that the combined mechanism of the protective Foreign Service Officers Union and a short public attention span will allow them to obfuscate their tracks.
America will be a loser, having sacrificed even more of its influence and power in East Asia, and having been publicly tricked by a two-bit, huckster state led by a buffoonish dictator. Those who see the waning of American power will be heartened by this agreement.
The big losers will be – as usual – the North Korean people, particularly the concentration camp inmates whose plight Bush once famously discussed with Bob Woodward in 2001 and for whom he appeared to be concerned when he highlighted their plight with an oval office visit for a defector four years later.
That was then, this is now, and the new North Korean agreement boldly illustrates how a presidency in disarray can be manipulated by a committed enemy, a disloyal bureaucracy, a do-nothing Congress, and a spiteful media.
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I had never heard of this idea until it was falsely attributed to me the other day, and now here it is getting close to being adopted as French state policy. It seems that unless it is coupled with sane and much-needed restrictions on the other end — on immigrants entering France — this is just creating a circular motion that will drain the French treasury. But at least it is a halting first attempt to do something to prevent the Islamization of France.
From Spiegel Online, with thanks to all who sent this in:
New French President Nicolas Sarkozy made immigration a central issue of his campaign. Now, his new minister for immigration and national identity says its time to start paying immigrants to leave the country.France is home to over 5 million immigrants — and the new conservative-led government doesn’t plan on making things any more comfortable for them. While the new regime in Paris is determined to curb illegal immigration, it is also looking to encourage legal migrants to reconsider their decision to stay in France — by paying them to go back home.
New immigration minister, Brice Hortefeux, confirmed on Wednesday that the government is planning to offer incentives to more immigrants to return home voluntarily. “We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that,” Hortefeux said in an interview with RFI radio.
Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of €6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin. A similar scheme, which was introduced in 2005 and 2006, was taken up by around 3,000 families.