The Bush Doctrine Is Dead

According to Bob Schrum on tonight’s Hardball, today President Bush “announced the end of Dick Cheney’s dominance in foreign policy.”


The announcement was made in a presidential press conference in Chicago. After President Bush went on — and on — at some length about stuff nobody cares about or believes any more — like No Child Left Behind works real good and what the economy needs is more tax cuts — he took some questions from Chicago reporters. And the first question was about North Korea.

Q Mr. President, Japan has dropped the threat of sanctions from its proposed Security Council resolution about North Korea. Why was that necessary? And how do you punish or penalize a country that’s already among the poorest and most isolated in the world?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that the purpose of the U.N. Security Council resolution is to send a clear message to the leader of North Korea that the world condemns that which he did. Part of our strategy, as you know, has been to have others at the table; is to say as clearly as possible to the North Korean, get rid of your weapons and there’s a better way forward. In other words, there’s a choice for him to make. He can verifiably get rid of his weapons programs and stop testing rockets, and there’s a way forward for him to help his people.

I believe it’s best to make that choice clear to him with more than one voice, and that’s why we have the six-party talks. And now that he has defied China and Japan and South Korea and Russia and the United States — all of us said don’t fire that rocket. He not only fired one, he fired seven. Now that he made that defiance, it’s best for all of us to go to the U.N. Security Council and say loud and clear, here are some red lines. And that’s what we’re in the process of doing.

The problem with diplomacy, it takes a while to get something done. If you’re acting alone, you can move quickly. When you’re rallying world opinion and trying to come up with the right language at the United Nations to send a clear signal, it takes a while.

And so, yesterday, I was on the phone with — I think I mentioned this to the press conference yesterday — to Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin; the day before to President Roh and Prime Minister Koizumi. And Condi, by the way, was making the same calls out there to her counterparts, all aiming at saying, it’s your choice, Kim Jong-il, you’ve got the choice to make.

So we’ll see what happens at the U.N. Security Council. I talked to Condi this morning first thing, in anticipation of this question, and she feels good about the progress that can be made there.

No more Lone Ranger foreign policy. No more unilateral action. No more charging around the globe doing whatever we want. Now we’ve got to get the world to speak with one voice; we’ve got to rely on diplomacy, because we have no other bleeping options.

Back on Hardball, Schrum and Norah O’Donnell said that we don’t have a credible threat of force, and sanctions are not supported by the UN security council, so all we’ve got left is diplomacy. But as Schrum also said, “It was time for diplomacy six years ago.”

Somebody — I think it was O’Donnell — said that she’d never heard Bush use the word diplomacy as often as he used it today.

But Bob Schrum also said, “He can’t talk his way out of the problems he has right now.”

The problem isn’t just that Bush should have started diplomacy six years ago. It was that shortly after he became President in 2001 he trashed years of diplomacy that had gone on before. And he did this because he is an asshole.

Go here for some background on how badly Dubya bleeped up North Korea:

So here’s where we stood when Bush II became President: Kim Jong Il was (and remains) a genuinely horrible leader whose people were starving, and western intelligence agencies at least suspected he was processing uranium. But relations with South Korea were improving, the IAEA was still inspecting, and the plutonium processors were still sealed.

But then there was Bush.

Kim Dae Jung came to Washington in March 2001 to pay respects to the new U.S. President Bush and ask for his support for the Sunshine Policy. And what happened?

Bush dissed him, that’s what. The arrogant little twerp snubbed a Nobel Prize winner and friend to America. And when word of the snub reached North Korea, the “Sunshine Policy” died.

The late, great Mary McGrory wrote:

    We should perhaps remember that President Bush has never liked talking to Koreans. His first overseas visitor was the estimable Kim Dae Jung, whom Bush snubbed.

    Bush, as he was eager to demonstrate, was not a fan. Kim’s sin? He was instituting a sunshine policy with the North, ending a half-century of estrangement. Bush, who looked upon North Korea as the most potent argument for his obsession to build a national missile defense, saw Kim, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, as nothing but trouble. He sent him home humiliated and empty-handed. [McGrory, “Bush’s Moonshine Policy,” The Washington Post, December 29, 2002; emphasis added].

As a reaction to Bush’s unexpected hard-line stance, North Korea cancelled scheduled reconciliation talks with South Korea.

And it was Bush (and Condi) screwups that got Kim Jong Il back into the plutonium processing business, as explained here. Note that the Republican Noise Machine persuaded much of the press and public that Kim Jong Il had broken the 1994 agreement made with the Clinton Administration to stop processing plutonium. But in fact Kim Jong Il had stopped processing plutonium. The Bushies raised a stink about North Korea processing uranium, which was a whole ‘nother matter and not nearly as much of a concern as processing plutonium, as explained here. And as I explained here, in 2002 Condi explained that North Korea is just so much more manageable than Iraq, and if we just stand up to them they’ll mind us like housebroken puppies. Two years later, North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons. Brilliant.

Click here for the entire “Blame Bush for North Korea’s Nukes” archive.

18 thoughts on “The Bush Doctrine Is Dead

  1. I listened to most of it. Besides the usual content problems, I finally figured out why Bush is so annoying for me to listen to. He sounds defensive, impatient and angry at perfectly legitimate questions from the press. I recall him mentioning that he had spoken about the Korean crisis several times over the past 4 days, and wondered why he had to repeat himself! What a guy.

  2. Bush has nothing to distinguish himself in credibility, integrity, or trustworthiness. He’s inept and a fraud who will continue offering excuses until the day he leaves office… So don’t expect more!. How anybody can either follow or support a man like Bush —so lacking in character— is beyond me.
    For me, every word out of Bush’s mouth is deception. a distortion or a lie. He’s become the boy who cried wolf and I can no longer hear a word from his mouth that doesn’t repluse me. He’s a big zero in the qualities of character a man should aspire to. Yeah, he’s just a beady eyed weaseling sack of shit, and the title Frat Boy suits him well.

  3. I remember that incident vividly. Kim Dae Jong and Bush were holding a presser in the White House when Bush took some quick questions about Kim’s Sunshine policy. Bush dismissed it out of hand as if the whole idea was so riduculous that no one serious about foreign policy would follow it.

    You could tell from the reaction on Kim’s face that this was the first he had heard that Bush didn’t approve of the policy. That’s right, Bush publicly humiliated a man who had worked tirelessly for years, at great personal cost, to bring about some kind of rapproachment in Korea. And what’s more, Bush probably didn’t even know he was humiliating his guest.

    It was at that moment that I realized just how clueless Bush was about the way the world worked. Nothing he has done since has proven that assessment wrong.

  4. Two Lone Ranger posts in a single scroll-down! How cool!

    Ever notice that even though Tonto talked in Hollywood Indian, he still was a competent partner? I always wondered if maybe there wasn’t a little subversive racial equality sneaking in underneath.

    And as you said below, the Lone Ranger isn’t really what we have with these clowns. We have the corrupt sheriff supporting the bad guys. We have the bad and the ugly. Bush thinks the code of the west is about gun slinging and dressing up in boots and talking tough. He thinks he’s Clint Eastwood when he’s really Barney Fife without Barney’s humanity.

    The Lone Ranger always, always left things better and never stayed around for the praise or the parade.

  5. Where to begin! I read your “Blame Bush for North Korea’s Nukes” blog series – very interesting. I’m sure you could write a parallel piece about what he has done (or not done) diplomatically with Iran – this guy only has one game plan – piss them off and then blame them.

    And he had the unmitigated gall to talk about diplomacy today. His take on North Korea – “these problems don’t arise in a nanosecond. It takes a while for a problem to fester and grow, and then it takes a while to solve them diplomatically.” Even better if these problems can be left to the next administration.

  6. You could tell from the reaction on Kim’s face that this was the first he had heard that Bush didn’t approve of the policy.

    My understanding is that Secretary of State Powell was surprised also. He’d been meeting with Kim Dae Jong and assuring him that the U.S. would continue to support the Sunshine Policy.

  7. The only thing these clowns have accomplished in almost 6 years is tax cuts for the ultra rich.
    Let ask Ken Lay, “How’s that “rich man and the eye of the needle” thing coming now, Kenny boy?”
    Does St. Peter demand cash, or will he take Visa?
    I’m not religious, but George’s (and his enabler’s) time will come. Maybe not soon, but history will treat them like the evil band of hapless bobo’s that they are.
    What did America do to deserve this?
    Oh yeah, a lot of under-education and too much religion. And now we have “No Child Left Behind” and government paid for “Faith-based” intiative’s.
    Fascist Theocracy, here we come… It’s dawn in the new Amerika!
    Thanks Republican’s!!!
    These people understand nothing about this country and what we once stood for.
    Now, after Iraq and New O’rlean’s, we, in the world’s eye, are just a rich, overly well-fed North Korea. Our leader? Him Kill, Bush.

  8. Maybe I have never understood what the Bushies mean by “Unitary Government”, but I don’t understand how Bush’s latest announcement justifies your prediction “No more Lone Ranger foreign policy. No more unilateral action. No more charging around the world doing what ever we want. No we’ve got to get the world to speak with one voice; we’ve got to rely on diplomacy …”.

    As far as I understood, “Unitary government” is a euphemism for “Dictatorship when America is at War”. The idea is that, as long as America is “at War”, the President gets to do whatever he(or she) wants, to whomever he wants, whenever he wants, without necessarily having to consult anyone, or being accountable for his decisions and orders(either in any Court of Law or in any other branch of Government). The underlying justification is utilitarian: making Bush take the time to consult or defend his decisions distracts him from the truly important stuff(whatever that means; as near as I can tell, most of Bush’s supporters would like to “Kill ’em all and let God sort it out”), and makes America more vulnerable as a result .

    But, since this is a (suposedly temporary form of) Dictatorship, other principals should also be remembered. So, another utilitarian principal these people adhere to is inconsistency. All Absolute Rulers are intentially arbritrary, inscrutible and inconsistent in order to keep everyone guessing, therefore more managable(eg just look at the current ruler of N Korea, or the former ruler of Iraq). And, even if this isn’t a result of intention, but a result of madness, then it is still the duty of Patriots to not question any of this, because then “the Enemies” could find out, and then America will be made more vulnerable.

    Now, if “His Imperial Majesty” sometimes exercises “Imperial Perogative” and deigns to consult with someone(or “God”) in advance of some decision, or to justify “His” decision afterwards, or to enter into diplomacy rather than warfare, that is just “His Imperial Majesty” indulging in “His Imperial Perogative” in order to further American interests. All is fair in a time of War. But anyone would be imprudent to presume that any action is a permanent change in policy or setting a precident.

    I would like very much to believe your prediction, but “Unitary Government” is all a Mobius-strip form of “Logic”(another example is the Iraq Policy “If we stay, we win. If we leave, we lose. Ergo, we won’t leave until we win.”). So, IMO, it should be no surprise at all that Bush’s Foreign Policy is inconsistent, because inconsistency is “logical” within this philosophy of government. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bush suddenly reverses himself and attacks N Korea(or Iran, or even Canada, for that matter)

    As far as I can see, the only way “Lone Ranger” foreign policy will end is if control of Congress is returned to people who are determined that the President not act like the Lone Ranger, and who hav the cojones to reassert the Constitutional checks and balances.

  9. Barbara, I was impressed with your whole series on Korea; I had a few ideas to add, and did, but my trackbacks are not working. In my opinion Bush got the word from his counterparts in Russia and China that they will not support sanctions (which is public) and that they will not tolerate an Iraq-style militay confrontation (which is my opinion). The alignment of the international community against the Bush doctrine leave US the isolated power, not N. Korea, as Bush wants to describe it.

  10. I doubt this is really a renunciation of unilateralism, or the end of Cheney’s dominance. It’s more the fact that there simply is no good military option. Even if we had a whole military, freed up, rested and fit and ready to go, there still wouldn’t be a good military option. N.K. has arranged things so that in any conventional war, something probably approaching a million civilians would be dead within the first day. N.K. has thousands of artillery tubes dug in, hardened against any bomb outside a nuke, within range of and sited in on a HUGE chunk of S.K., including several major cities.

    I think it’s just that somebody finally managed to use small enough words when explaining this to the prez that he finally got it.


  11. The neocons are on their knees begging China to handle the North Korean missile threat. Along with our mfg. jobs, we’re outsourcing our national security to China. Keep in mind we have no leverage with China or Russia, they’re creditor nations now, we’re the weak debtor nation begging for help.

    As Lou Dobbs alluded to, they’re taken trade policy out of foreign policy, so that leaves us with exactly… nothing. No leverage. How long will it take before Americans realize how weak the globalists free traders have left us and how weak and pathetic Bush is.

  12. It’s more the fact that there simply is no good military option.

    Like that should make a difference to a high testosterone idiot like Bush.. Mr. Bring it on. I think Bush is now realizing that both Afghanistan and Iraq are lost causes and that we will eventually have to bail out by using the Henry Kissinger option..Just declare victory or a peace with honor and walk away from the tremendous loss of life and money..

  13. The bush antics in Iraq, along with his big fat mouth flapping in the wind have cost this country a great deal more then we understand.What choice does any nation which values their sovereignty have given the climate bush has created but to arm themselves to the teeth?Not just North Korea, but every nation …. if they are wise they are building weapons and armies.The world understands we only attack the weak.The world gets how bullies work….Every country on the planet, by now , sees that the only way to keep from being our slave, to keep from being robbed by America of their resources,the way to avoid becoming a war torn country for not licking the USA’S jackboots is to be strong militarily.
    What the hell kind of world do righties want to create by supporting this FOOL? They certainly do not want a safer world or they would have never allowed such a climate to be created. How are we ever going to be safer in a world where more countries need more weapons to be safe from US?.Do they not understand that each weapon built to protect other nations from us only means more weapons with the potential to fall into the hands of the terrorists they are hiding under their beds from?bush policies of chest thumping and posturing on the world stage are on their way to destroying the world as we know it,and we have no one to blame but those who voted for him, given his immature rhetoric.Any thinking person knows that every action has a reaction.What did they think the worlds reaction was going to be to bush telling the world they all must comply with his wishes?Did they think every nation would jusy lay down and submit to the will of dear leader?

    If “we the people ” were smart we would get bush to go back to crawford(or whereever he slinks off to after he is done disgracing the nation)NOW….before he can do anymore damage.

  14. At the time, it appeared to me (and I see to Mary McGrory) that GWBush & adminstration considered North Korea to be part of the sales team for the ballistic missile defense program. Riling them up into being a larger threat was part of the BMD sales program.

    It was disgusting at the time, the biggest mistake of his presidency. Might even be a bigger mistake than Iraq, if the NK regime decides to sell one or more nuclear weapons to terrorists and succeeds in doing so.

  15. The Bush doctrine is a national disgrace. History will laugh at America for being so stupid to buy into a preemption mentality. It was nothing but naked aggression thinly veiled. I’m glad that America is getting their ass kicked in Iraq..maybe it might help some Americans learn where the source of America’s greatness originates. We need to inculcate humility into the national character.

  16. Great post and great comments. The total lack of wisdom and judgement in our foreign policy is appalling. Adolescent machismo and unquestioning faith are the only things of value. Their only thought process is to keep people too scared to question any of their actions. Because of the ‘decisions’ these guys have made, Japan is now debating on whether they have the right to pre-emptively strike North Korea. Great Job, Bush. He gets to put a WWIII wing in his presidential library. It is going to take decades to repair all of this clown’s damage. I recommend everyone read some of George Soros writings on foreign policy. He outlines very well what Bush should be doing, but isn’t.

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