Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Crowning Failure?

The number and scope of failures of Bush's foreign policy make a stunning list.

1. Bush abandoned the Kyoto protocol, scuttling a decade of effort by the international community to build a cooperative framework to fight global climate change. In terms of both diplomacy and climatology, these lost years can never be recovered: meeting the challenge will be much harder now. We will all feel the loss of those years in the century ahead.

2. Bush let the Doha round of the world trade talks fail. Insisting on his deal or no deal, he got the latter. His stubborness will cost America jobs and will slow the development of the poorest nations.

3. Bush's war in Iraq began with a diplomatic debacle at the U.N., was compounded by a military miscalculation that scattered former Iraqi army units everywhere and left us with too few "boots" on the ground to fight them, and now Iraq has become a humanitarian catastrophe as tens of thousands lie dead and hundreds more civilians die every week. The word on everyone's lips is not "liberation" but "civil war."

4. Bush's so-called "war on terror" has failed as well. As the attacks in Madrid, London, and elsewhere demonstrate, Al Qaeda remains alive and dangerous. Osama bin Laden remains at large. Afghanistan is falling apart and the Taliban rise again, turning to ashes the lone "success" Bush had once been able to claim in the war on terror. Jihadism is on the rise around the world and America is hated more than ever before: by any measure, there is more terrorism now than ever before.

5. Bush's attempt to control Iran's nuclear program has met with zero success. His "Axis of Evil" mentality has alarmed the warmongers in Iran and given ammunition to the extremists. Mounting American casualties in Iraq, due in part to Iranian influence, reveal our impotence in the region.

Yet even so, if North Korea's small, underground nuclear explosion is confirmed,it may well represent the crowning failure of Bush's foreign policy. Recall that in the 2004 Presidential Debates, both Kerry and Bush identified nuclear proliferation--not terrorism--as the number one danger facing America.

Bush had no time for diplomacy, and abandonded everything Clinton had done. Where Clinton had held out a hand, Bush held up a finger. Bush thought he could push North Korea around if he treated North Korea as a "bad actor" and refused to negotiate. Instead, all he did was give North Korea cause for fear and anger, and he left us with no tools but bluster.

In today's explosion we see the fruits of Bush's policy toward North Korea. We would have been better off if U.S. foreign policy merely had been rudderless. Instead, our Captain looks determined to ram the ship of state into every iceberg he can find. Thanks to Bush, we have now arrived at the worst of all impasses with the North Koreans: they've got their backs to the wall and they've got nukes in their hands. God help us if they ever get their missiles working.


Anonymous said...

This is easily the most bungled foreign policy of any administration in a 100 years - maybe ever.

But people buy it for a long time because there are a lot of people who get off (and that's exactly the right term) on war and militaristic compensation for insecurity. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

"Bush abandoned the Kyoto protocol"

No he didn't (and as if it were a bad thing if he did). A little background: Clinton signed the Kyoto protocol. A worthless gesture since the President cannot bind this country to international treaties with his signature alone. All international treaties must be ratified by the Senate. Only then can we be bound to an international treaty. And in fact, the Senate took up a vote on it and unanimously rejected it!

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98)[14], which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States". On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations [15]. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

All Bush did was withdraw the Presidnetial signature.

"Bush had no time for diplomacy,"

Lie. Bush tried every diplomatic thing in the book.

"and abandonded everything Clinton had done. Where Clinton had held out a hand, Bush held up a finger."

Clinton had gave the North Koreans the means with which to produce their Nuclear weapons at a faster rate! And in return, all he got were a bunch of empty, broken promises. He was warned this is what would have happened.

Clinton's 1994 plan to give the Northe Koreans two light water nuke reactors got us to where we are today. All the Northe Koreans did was promise not to make nukes, and Bubba and Not-too-bright said "Hey, works for us!" Who knew that commie dictators could be liars??

All this crap happened in the 1990's when a certain intern-diddling cigar-hiding defense-squandering hedonist was running the show, and now that his successor has been tasked with cleaning up the is the successor's fault? And said hedonist's power-hungry spouse and her leftist minions are critical of the successor?

// posted by John

Anonymous said...

Wah wah. Bites when you are on the other side of the table getting kicked around, doesn't it John.

// posted by Anonymous

Dr. Strangelove said...

John's characterization of the July 25, 1997 vote on the Byrd-Hagel resolution is inaccurate. Even strong supporters of the Kyoto protocol, like Kerry, voted for the resolution. Revisions and negotiations continued through November 2001. John is correct that Clinton knew he could not muster the votes for the treaty in the Republican Senate, but he kept working at it. Then Bush took over and scuttled the whole thing. I did not mean to imply Bush actually broke the treaty.

John says that Bush tried "every diplomatic trick in the book." Apparently, the "book" John refers to does not include actually talking with the North Koreans. (Bush has consistently refused to resume direct talks with North Korea.) Furthermore, the North Koreans were not the only ones to renege on their promises--the Republican congress thwarted attempts to provide promised gasoline and components for the light water reactor. Many provisions of the Agreed Framework of 1994 remained unfilled. Still, Clinton remained engaged, understanding that the Agreed Framework was just that--a framework for ongoing discussions and negotiations. Bush dropped the ball completely.

I notice that John does not take issue with failures #3, #4, and #5. Hopefully even the Republicans realize that to blame those disasters on Clinton would be nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Strangelove,

Please explain the significance of a light water reactor as opposed to some other kind with regard to North Korea's weapsons program. I suspect the transfer of light water reactor technology is what John refers to when he says that Clinton acted to accelerate the North Korean program.

The thing about Republicans and Clinton bashing is that it MIGHT have sounded plausible that these crises had something to do with Clinton when the Bush administration was brand new. Even then it was seriously debatable. But 6 years after Clinton left office it is positively childish and dillusional to blame current events on Clinton or the Democrats in general who have not held a majority in Congress for years.

The real down side of presiding over one party government is that when you screw up it's flipping obvious who is responsible.  

// posted by RBR

Dr. Strangelove said...

I'm not a nuclear physicist, but I can tell you the basics.

To produce heat, nuclear reactors need three things: fissile fuel, a moderating substance, and something to carry away the heat for use elsewhere. The need for the fuel and heat exchanger is obvious, but the need for the moderator is not. The difference between reactor types derives mostly from the choice of moderator. So let me digress on that a bit.

When a heavy atom splits into two, it is rarely a clean break: little pieces of the atom (mostly neutrons) get spit out. If the particles smash into other atoms, those atoms will break apart and release even more particles. This is the nuclear chain reaction. (When susceptible atoms are packed together so densely that the debris from one breakup has a greater-than-50% chance of breaking up another atom, you have reached critical density. Boom.)

Obviously, we'd like to control the reaction and keep it to a simmer. To cdo that you have to control the chances that an emitted neutron will hit another atom at the right speed to break it up. There are two ways to do this: (1) make sure the fuel rods are so full of impurities that the fissile fuel is effectively sparse, and (2) slow down the neutrons so they are too weak to cause harm. The interesting part is that it turns out that natural uranium ore is already so impure, and the emitted neutrons already get expelled so ridiculously fast, that we actually start out at the other end of the spectrum. To sustain fission, we need to speed up the natural reaction... just not too much!

So what you do is enrich the fuel and surround it with a "moderator" that slows down the neutrons to just the right speed for maximum chance of collision. A light-water reactor (LWR) is the oldest technology and uses regular water as its moderator. A heavy-water reactor (HWR) uses heavy water (made with deuterium) as its moderator. Because ordinary water is relatively light, it can't slow down the neutrons enough, so LWRs require enriched fuel. On the other hand, heavy water is so good at slowing down neutrons that an HWR can use uranium ore straight from the ground.

There is, however, a catch. Fuel rods in a reactor change composition over time. As time goes on, most of the fuel gets "downshifted" into thorium and comparatively harmless isotopes that effectively increase the impurity of the fuel rod. Eventually the rod becomes too impure and reprocessing is required.

On the other hand, radioactivity is never clean and some of the impurities accidentally get "upshifted" into plutonium and other nasty byproducts. Most of that stuff ends up decaying faster than the uranium fuel, but if you use just the right sort of "filler" for your fuel rods, you can actually end up generating a great deal of weapons-grade plutonium.

LWRs are OK because the plutonium byproducts they create are the wrong isotope and, since it is nearly impossible to separate the right plutonium from the wrong plutonium, the spent fuel rods are essentially useless for making weapons. On the other hand, the particular type of reactor North Korea has employs moderators designed to create weapons-grade plutonium as the byproduct. It could be considered a type of "breeder" reactor.

So basically, Clinton was offering to give them several nice, safe, large LWRs if they got rid of their small, suspicious breeder reactor. Interesting, there is now only one non-nuclear nation that has a fast breeder reactor program: Japan. You may draw your own conclusions.