Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, on the "new" choreography on North Korea. As usual, Mr. Hayes cuts to the chase with his opening observation:
Do you ever get the sense that if North Korea actually used a nuclear weapon in an offensive attack that Chris Hill and the State Department would still be trying to make a deal?
In response to the latest provocation from the North Koreans, Hill and his colleagues are proposing a new "choreography" for the futile negotiations. Dancing seems somehow appropriate at this stage, given the stories about Hill's collegial drinking with his North Korean counterparts and his friendly toasts to honor them. ("We pulled out all the stops," one US diplomat told author Mike Chinoy about the festivities.)
Hayes also notes--as we have--that the Bush Administration remains wedded to the same, failed approach that has governed our "relationship" with Pyongyang since 1994. We make tough-sounding threats; the North Koreans bluster/cheat/lie, and Washington responds with more chances and concessions.
Cynics might say that Mr. Hill can't do much more damage, since he'll be out of a job in three months. But, there is that little matter of trying to embellish the legacy of Mr. Bush, his Secretary of State and their senior envoy to the Six Party Talks.
And, if that's not enough, here's something else to consider: Barack Obama has surrounded himself with many of the foreign policy "experts" who endorsed the "Agreed To Framework" of the mid-1990s--the same deal that rewarded North Koreans for inactivity and allowed them to take their nuclear program underground, creating the technical advances that led to that nuclear test in 2006.
If anything, the Obama team will be even more agreeable to a "tango" with Pyongyang.