A while back, after reading a column by former Israeli Prime Minister Peres on what Israel should do next, I asked whether Neville Chamberlain got to write op-ed pieces after failing to deliver peace in his time. I ask this question again today after reading a Washington Post op-ed by Bill Clinton’s advisor on North Korea, Wendy Sherman. It is the Clinton administration’s appeasement of North Korea that enabled that dictatorship to reach the point where it poses a nuclear threat to the world. Yet here is Ms. Sherman telling us what we should do next, which turns out to be, essentially, more appeasement.
Sherman uses the recent South Korean election as her pretext to get back into the appeasement-recommending business. She seems alarmed that there is anti-Americanism in South Korea and thinks that we had better heed South Korean calls for discussions with the North if we are to improve our popularity (hence the catchy title “Listen to the South, and Talk to the North”). Why South Korean popularity polls should dictate our response to the threat posed to the region, and to the United States, by North Korean nuclear weapons and terrorism, Sherman never quite makes clear. Equally muddled is her recommendation that we “talk” to North Korea, “even if full-fledged negotiations are premature until North Korea pulls back from its dangerous nuclear path.” Apparently, Sherman has in mind a “peace process.” But talking to the North Koreans will only convey weakness and the prospect of further appeasement. Moreover, talking to them while refusing to engage in “full-fledged negotiations” (a wishy-washy formulation that, to Sherman, probably means the promise of future concessions, as opposed to immediate capitulation) would likely create increased tensions, since the North Koreans will be expecting immediate concessions commensurate with their status, courtesy of the Clinton administration, as a nuclear power.
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