Koreans Don't Just Eat Dogs, they Wag them Too
George Bush, Karl Rove, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Sen. George "Macaca" Allen are breathing a sigh of relief today. We all woke up to the news today that North Korea claims to have tested a nuclear weapon. It's a complete foreign policy failure for George Bush, but Bush and Rove have a knack for turning foreign policy failures into political successes.
The reason why North Korea's nuclear test is a foreign policy failure is simple: Bush sat back for five and a half years while North Korea developed nuclear weapons. Bush refused to have U.S. diplomats engage in one-on-one talks with North Korea about its nuclear program. The theory of the Bushies was that such talks are a sign of weakness. I don't understand why. If you sit down with your opponents, and tell them, "you must stop your nuclear program or there will be dire consequences for you," that seems to be a sign of strength, not weakness. The U.S. goal was not to have a nuclear North Korea. That goal, and the tactics, or lack thereof, implemented to achieve it, has failed.
Ah, but the politics. First, the North Korean nuclear test story knocks the Mark Foley sex scandal from the top of the headlines. The Foley scandal has rapidly become a scandal about the Republican coverup of Foley's behavior in order to stay in power. The North Korean nuclear test also overshadows other news stories, such as the rapid deterioration of conditions in Iraq, the Jack Abramoff Scandal, and Senator George Allen's racist and ethical troubles, all of which hurt the Republicans. Instead, George Bush gets to make speeches and appear Presidential. You can be sure that he'll try to take some kind of military action, such as a naval blockade of North Korea.
Most importantly, Bush and Rove will be able to sell us more fear. Since 9/11, they have benefitted from international crises, even those that are largely the fault of Bush's inaction and blundering. They must believe that Americans, frozen in fear, will be too scared to hold Republicans accountable for their foreign policy failures across the board, and to make any changes at the voting booth in the upcoming election. In 2002 and 2004, their belief was correct. The 2006 election is less than one month away.
It's nearly enough to turn a thoughtful person into a conspiracy theorist.