- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 25, 2004

Under the British parliamentary system, members of the minority party act as “shadow ministers.” They basically pretend to hold the posts they would have were their party in power. It’s an effective way for voters to find out what the opposition party would do if it could call the shots.

Here in the U.S., the 24-hour news cycle provides us an unofficial shadow government. Virtual shadow ministers include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who advises the Kerry campaign. Also among their number — until a recent incident at the National Archives — was former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

These folks spend plenty of time on television, attacking the president’s policies. And voters should listen carefully to what these advisers say.

Consider Mrs. Albright’s recent appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” She criticized the Bush administration’s North Korea approach.

First, let’s stipulate there’s no simple solution to North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons. Under President Clinton’s “Agreed Framework,” we promised to supply Pyongyang with fuel oil if it would freeze its nuclear program. We supplied the fuel; they lied and cheated and pressed ahead with their nuclear program.

The Bush administration is now trying to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through six-party talks, a slow but sensible process that brings together China, Russia, Japan and South Korea along with the U.S. and North Korea. In other words, we have built a coalition of concerned nations and are attempting to diffuse a tense situation diplomatically.

But that’s not how Mrs. Albright sees it. “I think [North Korea’s] a very dangerous threat, and I also think they get the wrong message out of Iraq,” she told Tim Russert. And what was that message? “You know, we invade countries that don’t have nuclear weapons and we don’t invade those that do. We didn’t invade the Soviet Union and China, so why not build up nuclear weapons as quickly as possible?” she said.

Mrs. Albright is right about one thing: During her tenure, the United States sent troops into Bosnia and bombed Serbia. Neither had nuclear weapons. But she is wrong to compare our approach to North Korea with our policies on China and the Soviet Union.

Sure, we never invaded either nation, but we could have — before they had nukes. Probably the biggest reason we didn’t is they were both giant countries with huge armies. An invasion of either would cost tens of thousands of American lives and probably result in a quagmire. On the other hand, while North Korea has a large army, it’s a relatively tiny country and our military could overwhelm it quickly.

The real lesson: The key to our success is our strength.

The Soviet Union collapsed when its leaders realized President Reagan was serious about building the Strategic Defense Initiative and winning the Cold War. China keeps its hands off Taiwan because it realizes our commitment to defend the island is serious.

President Bush’s approach to North Korea makes it clear we stand squarely with our allies Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang can see the U.S. won’t seek a separate agreement that leaves our long-time allies out in the cold. And, if North Korea wants a lesson from Iraq, it should learn we’ll take strong, even military, action when our interests are threatened.

It’s important to remember Madeleine Albright was secretary of state just a few years ago — and might again become an influential foreign policy voice if John Kerry is elected. Based on her “Meet the Press” comments, that’s a disturbing thought.

We’ll soon see if most voters also believe Madam Albright ought to stop acting like a shadow foreign minister — and return to the shadows as a full-time university professor.

Ed Feulner is president of the Heritage Foundation.

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