With North Korea back in the news, and with me thinking about Rome in the late 1990’s, it reminds me that one of my jobs at the American Embassy in Rome was to take the tin cup out to the Italian Foreign Ministry and beg for money to help the US meet its commitments under the agreement with North Korea that it then still honored. Italy then held the presidency of the EU, and thus we begged Italy as a country and as a representative of the entire EU.
The problem was that the agreement called on the Western parties, the US, Japan, and South Korea, to provide heating oil to North Korea while work was proceeding on the non-proliferating, Western design nuclear reactors that we had promised North Korea to replace their indigenous reactors that were producing the bad bomb-making plutonium. However, the US Congress, under its non-treaty-honoring Republican leadership would not appropriate enough money to meet the US obligations under the treaty. So, we browbeat our allies to make up the difference, presumably because they were more concerned about the future of the world than the Republican Congress was.
I didn’t like that any more than I liked punishing children for the sins of their parents, despite the precedent for such punishment in the Old Testament. (See previous post).
So, as I approached the end of my career, it was as if the Republicans became less concerned about the protecting the US, and more greedy (giving money that should have gone to protecting the US to their wealthy campaign contributors instead).
These current negotiations with the North Koreans bring back bad memories. Although Christopher Hill is a career Foreign Service officer (who spent time in Poland as I did), I don’t trust the US negotiating position. The North Koreans are crazy, but so is John Bolton, who was in charge of this process until recently. And Condi Rice named him to be Ambassador to the UN, not a good sign for Condi’s competence.