Bush Draws New Line In Sand On What He Will "Tolerate" From North Korea
There's a 1949 Bugs Bunny-Yosemite Sam cartoon, Bugs Bunny Rides Again, in which Bugs draw a line in the desert dirt with his foot, and says, "I dare you to step across this line."
Yosemite Sam does, and that leads to a sequence, "Well, I dare you to cross this line. ... and this line ... and this line ... and this line," until finally Bugs draws a final line, Yosemite Sam crosses it ... and falls off a cliff (complete with the requisite Warner Brothers whistling descent sound).
In a way, that sums up the Bush Administration's policy toward North Korea, with two exceptions: Bush is falling off the cliff, and there's a chorus of conservatives saying that's just how Bush planned it.
Let me show how the "Yosemite Sam Strategy" is working:
In 2003, during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, Bush said:
BUSH: On the threat from North Korea's nuclear program, the Prime Minister and I see the problem exactly the same way. We will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea. We will not give into blackmail. We will not settle for anything less than the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Now that North Korea has apparently crossed that line, Bush said yesterday:
BUSH: The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action.
The line has moved. Why? The short answer is that North Korea ignored Bush's "tough talk." What happens if the Bush Administration "stays the course" with its current failed policy, and North Korea does try to sell material to terrorists? Will that also be met with scorn ... and little more?
Meanwhile, there was the typical "this is how we planned it" re-writing of history from the White House. At today's press briefing, Tony Snow had this exchange with NBC's David Gregory:
Q Tony, in 2003, the President said very clearly that we will not tolerate North Korea with nuclear weapons.
Q And here we are in 2006 operating on the assumption, as the government is, that, in fact, they tested a nuclear devise. So what went wrong?
SNOW: I'm not sure anything went wrong.
I'm sure Snow will continue to say that if North Korea ignores Bush's "tough talk" again.