Clinton decided to embrace what became known as the 1994 Agreed Framework.
In October, 2000, just as the Clinton presidency was winding down, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was in Pyongyang to toast the dictator Kim Jong-Il.
After complimenting Kim on “the awesome acrobatic talent of your people” and noting a flower he had named after himself, the “Kim Jongilia,” Albright sought to reassure the militaristic North Koreans that America means them no harm. “We are a peace-loving nation and desire to take steps with you that will ensure peace for generations to come,” she said.
She celebrated the new era of understanding she thought the Clinton administration had ushered in.
“Mr. Chairman, in the same spirit that has taken hold since the North-South Summit earlier this year, I invite you all to join me in a toast to friendship between our peoples, and to a new era of opportunity and promise throughout the Land of the Morning Calm,” she said.
Three years later, deploying their acrobatic talents, the North Koreans flip-flopped and withdrew from the deal, which they’d already been cheating on for years with a secret uranium-based nuclear program.
“The immediate ramifications of the Yongbyon strike or even a tight sanctions policy in 1994 would likely have been severe,” wrote Mitchell Lerner, Director of the Institute for Korean Studies at Ohio State University, in December 2015. “The costs of inaction that summer, however, proved to be far more severe over the next decades,” he continued. “The Kim family remained in power in the North, perpetuating one of the most brutal totalitarian regimes in modern history. The country continued its nuclear efforts in defiance of the 1994 agreement, and is now believed to have 15-20 nuclear weapons and significantly improved delivery systems, along with a massive collection of chemical and biological weapons as well.”
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton helped make the North Korean problem birthed by her husband demonstrably worse, and for exactly the reason Trump is trying to address: President Obama’s policy of not talking to the North Koreans has been an utter failure.
“Nuclear nonproliferation experts agree: Obama, they claim, is responsible for the failure of America to prevent North Korea from expanding its nuclear program,” according to a January piece by The Daily Beast, not known as a hotbed of conservative anti-Clintonism. “By demanding that North Koreans take denuclearization steps before talks that would focus on denuclearization, it put the onus for talks on the authoritarian state, thereby buying them time to creep towards strengthening its nuclear arsenal,” the article states.
The article says that North Korea policy was run out of the White House, but it is hard to imagine the secretary of state did not have input. And to the extent she didn’t, it shows how ineffectual she was.
But Hillary was undeniably successful in pushing for one of Obama’s most catastrophic mistakes, the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. The most obvious result of this is that North Africa is now swarming with bloodthirsty Islamists. But a less evident, but also quite lethal consequence has to do with North Korea.
“The overthrow of Qaddafi, several years after Libya gave up its nuclear program, likely increased North Korea’s concerns that absent a nuclear deterrent, its regime would be at risk,” Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, said in The Daily Beast.
No doubt Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, the negotiations for which began when Clinton was secretary of state, will buttress North Korea’s determination to expand its nuclear stockpile. If the United States caved to the Iranians and allowed them to eventually gain a nuclear weapons program, why wouldn’t it just continue to roll over for the North Koreans?
Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy as secretary of state gave us ISIS, a couple of hundred thousand deaths in Syria, the collapse of Iraq, the Iran bomb — and so much more.
Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy as secretary of state gave us ISIS, a couple of hundred thousand deaths in Syria, the collapse of Iraq, the Iran bomb, lots of North Korea bombs, an increasingly aggressive China, and the disrespect of our allies and enemies all over the world.
Her husband gave us a nuclear North Korea, the Rwanda genocide, the failure of peace talks between the Israelis and the Arabs, and the ignominious withdrawal from Somalia after the deaths of 18 American soldiers in the Battle of Mogadishu. And worst of all, he failed to kill Osama Bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda.
The Clintons might try sifting through the wreckage of their own foreign policy misadventures, particularly with respect to North Korea, before they mock Trump’s proposal to try the art of the deal on Kim Jong-Un.
Keith Koffler is the editor of the website White House Dossier.