- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

Bush administration on right track with North Korea

Although I admire Steve Chapman’s convictions as expressed in his column “Ominous nuclear rumblings” (Commentary, Sunday), I can’t agree with his assertion that giving North Korea what it wants will somehow eliminate or even reduce the danger from its nuclear weapons programs. I agree that attacking North Korea is a non-starter, but because we know that appeasement does not work, it is difficult to see how anyone could do anything more than what the Bush administration is doing: working with allies, upgrading defense capabilities and pursuing multilateral talks — the so-called dialogue and pressure strategy.

Mr. Chapman wrote, “if the North Koreans did not keep their end of the bargain, the United States did not meet its obligations, either.” What seems to have been forgotten is that North Korea was already obligated to forgo nuclear weapons programs under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), from which North Korea has since declared its withdrawal. Whatever happened under the 1994 Agreed Framework in no way relieved North Korea of its responsibilities under the NPT.

A North Korean nonaggression treaty with the United States alone would be nothing more than a wedge between the United States and its Asian allies. If North Korea is sincere in its desire for a security guarantee, the best way to achieve that is not through another treaty of dubious value, but through modification of its own behavior. If North Korea does not wish to be attacked, it needs only to refrain from attacking anyone else.

The Agreed Framework was a diplomatic placebo. We used it to convince ourselves that the symptoms had abated while the root cause of the problem, the nature of the Kim Jong-il regime, had not changed in the least. After the Agreed Framework was signed, North Korea continued to export ballistic missiles and illicit drugs to raise funds for the regime, North Korean special operations forces were involved in several violent encounters with Japanese and South Korean forces, and in 1998, North Korea launched a Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile, supposedly a failed satellite launch, over Japanese territory — in violation of two major international treaties. Neither the Agreed Framework nor any other treaty or agreement swayed Pyongyang’s behavior with regard to nuclear weapons or in any other way.

According to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney said in 1796, “Millions for defence, but not one cent for tribute.” That should be our guiding principle. Finally, Mr. Chapman wrote, “The administration’s stubbornness is hard to fathom.” Not really. The Bush administration understands what many of its critics do not: A bad agreement is not better than no agreement — a bad agreement is no agreement.


Plano, Texas

Drug prices in America

In “Drugs from Canada: A price too high?” (Commentary yesterday) John C. Goodman discusses the price disparities of prescription drugs, both domestically and globally, and concludes that the re-importation of drugs poses safety problems. Mr. Goodman needs to know that prescription drugs already are being imported into America. Take the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, for example. It is manufactured by Pfizer Ireland Pharmaceuticals in Dublin, imported into both America and Canada and distributed in America by Parke-Davis, a division of Pfizer.

Lipitor costs about twice as much in America as in Canada for the exact same imported drug — unless, of course, Mr. Goodman speculates that Pfizer imports an adulterated version of the drug to Canada. The question that needs to be answered is: Are Canadians (with their socialized health care system) being subsidized, or are Americans being ripped off?


Falls Church

The chorus on State of the Union address

I was very surprised Saturday morning to read your above-the-fold story by Joseph Curl, “White House buttresses Iraq claim.” In his lead paragraph, he uses terminology straight from Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and the nine “dwarfs.” The subhead says new information “backs Bush on bid for nukes.” The lead paragraph says: “The White House yesterday released newly declassified intelligence and dispatched a senior administration official to explain how erroneous material ended up in the State of the Union address.”

Words have meanings, and nobody, to my knowledge, has proved or attempted to prove that the 16 words in contention from President Bush’s State of the Union address were erroneous. The president and British Prime Minister Tony Blair both stand behind the statement, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Until someone proves that statement false, it is incorrect to call it erroneous. The thrust of the first paragraph runs counter to the headlines.

The fact that Joseph Wilson, a devout Democrat, told the New York Times that his discussions over tea on an eight-day government-sponsored visit to Niger failed to uncover any additional sales of “yellow cake” over and above the previous deliveries does nothing to disprove the 16 words. The fact that a forged document stating that Saddam Hussein tried to buy more nuclear material from Niger was circulated in the intelligence circles again does not disprove the statement.

I can only hope Mr. Curl will choose his words more carefully in the future and that your editors will match the headlines with the text of the article.


Falls Church

Joseph Curl states, “At issue are 16 words the president uttered” in his story “White House buttresses Iraq claim,” (Page 1, Saturday).

Mr. Curl is wrong. The issue is whether a popular president misled the nation about uranium, mobile weapons labs, chemical weapons, biological weapons, a 45-minute launch capability, Scud missiles and the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. The answer increasingly appears to be yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, andyes.



Kobe Bryant vs. Bill Clinton

When former President Bill Clinton was asked by the grand jury about his interactions with Monica Lewinsky, he said, “I never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I’ve never had an affair with her.”

Believing her husband, Mrs. Clinton went on the “Today” show and said a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was conspiring against her husband.

Five years later, in her book “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton writes, “Why he felt he had to deceive me and others is his own story, and he needs to tell it in his own way.”

Friday, after Eagle County (Colo.) District Attorney Mark Hurlbert held a press conference publicly accusing Kobe Bryant of sexually assaulting a woman, Mr. Bryant held his own press conference in which he explained what took place. “I didn’t force her to do anything against her will. I’m innocent” (“Bryant charged with sexual assault” Sports Saturday). He then went on, according to Associated Press, to apologize publicly to his wife, Vanessa, “for having to put you through this and having to put our family through this.”

He then publicly admitted how he felt about what had transpired, saying he was “furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery.”

Mr. Bryant finished, AP says, by stating, “We have a lot at stake, I have a lot at stake.”

Believing her husband’s honesty, Vanessa Bryant issued a public statement stating, according to AP, that because she was aware of the details of her husband’s mistake, she was going to stand by him, proving “he did not assault anyone.”

Mr. Clinton chose to lie about his affair. Mr. Bryant has chosen to tell the truth about his. Mr. Bryant may not be a perfect role model, but at least he’s better than what we had in the past.


Tustin, Calif.

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