George W. Bush once (in-)famously referred to Kim Jong-il as a “pygmy”—which some claimed was an insult to pygmies. So having examined the positions of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich on North Korea, we thought that we would take a look at the remainder of the Republican field. Apologies to Steph Haggard, whose post for today I bumped, but some of these folks may not be around in a week, politically at least, so the situation calls for a certain amount of expediency. Vote early and often. Or whatever they do in Iowa.
First up, Ron Paul. I couldn’t find anything on North Korea on his website (a recurring theme as we will see) but I did find a May 2009 webcast titled “Let's Stop Bribing and Threatening North Korea" on one of his fan sites. Here's a lengthy quote so that you can get the full Ron Paul experience:
“…interesting is the fact that they [North Korea] wouldn’t have had these weapons if they hadn’t been subsidized by the West.
We directly helped them in their nuclear program in the way of bribing them under the Clinton administration and actually helped them. During the Clinton administration, they were trying to negotiate a deal, so they promised some technology to the North Koreans if they promised not to build nuclear weapons.
But, you know, any type of nuclear intelligence and nuclear ability is always helpful. Not only that, we have subsidized the Pakistanis to the tune of tens of billions of dollars over the years and it is said that probably a lot of the technology also came from Pakistan. So this to me is sort of an expression of the weakness of our policy overall, and besides I think the reaction was overblown a bit.
If you look at what the South Koreans did, they hardly blinked an eye. They weren’t yelling and screaming and they are the most vulnerable and if there is indeed a military threat in that part of the world, it should be the business of South Korea. It should be the business of Japan. It should be the business of China. Not the American taxpayer.
Interestingly enough, there has been a treaty with South Korea for 50 years or so, which means that no matter what happens over there, we have obligated the next generation of Americans to go over there and fight. I don’t like these kinds of treaties. I don’t think we have the moral right or the constitutional right to obligate future generations to automatically go to war,
and for this reason, I don’t think this kind of a treaty that we’ve had with South Korea is proper.
As a matter of fact, I think we’d be a lot better off if we follow a completely different program with South Korea. I’ve advocated bringing the troops home for a long time. I’ve advocated to get out of the way of any negotiations between the South and North Koreans, and obviously we shouldn’t give them any more money. That’s the last thing we should do.
North Korea is sort of like a spoiled child. They get up there and they yell and scream and they’re going to blow up the world, so we say, “Oh, don’t do it. We’ll give you more money”, or we threaten them, even, you know, militarily. And I don’t think we should do either one. I think it would be proper to even talk about trading with North Korea. We started trading with China
a long time ago and they have become more capitalistic, not less.
While China has become more capitalistic, we have become more socialistic. So I don’t see anything wrong with talking about trading with them, but I don’t think we should threaten, we shouldn’t intimidate them, we shouldn’t promise them any more money, and I think the world would be a lot better off under those conditions.
North Korea is not going to start bombing anybody. They’re just threatening us and we’ve actually encouraged it indirectly by rewarding people who have nuclear weapons. They know that they will be treated differently if they can prove they have a nuclear weapon. The last weapon they exploded several months ago was, in essence, a fizzle. So they were really motivated to
come back and show that they really know how to do it and that puts them in a different position for negotiating.
I don’t think for a minute they have any intentions of attacking South Korea or attacking Japan or attacking China. I mean, that is not their goal. Their goal is to play with us and it’s just a shame that a nation as powerful and supposedly as smart as we are that we can be easily intimidated by a Third World nation like this, a country can’t even feed itself.”
And now for something completely different. I couldn’t find anything on Rick Santorum’s website about North Korea, but I did come up with a clip in which he advocates assassinating North Korean (and other) nuclear scientists who might be helping Iran develop the Bomb. Actually one of the more interesting moments in the Republican
sitcom debate series was the episode where Ron Paul gave Santorum an apparently needed history lesson on US relations with Iran.
I could not find anything on North Korea on Rick Perry’s website on North Korea either but probably just as well: the hapless Governor was last heard referring to the recently deceased Kim Jong-il as Kim Jong the Second. (To be honest, this would not have been the first time an American politician used this name which admittedly does convey a certain essence of reality. Once one of my questioners at a Congressional hearing repeatedly referred to the then-leader of North Korea this way. A joke, quite possibly apocryphal, about the late Senator Jesse Helms, is that after he made this gaffe, his staff wrote out the name phonetically—Kim Jong-Ill—and he referred to the Dear Leader as Kim Jong the Third. No, Senator, that would be Kim Young’un.)
And there is something about North Korea and insults. I couldn’t find any reference to North Korea on Michele Bachmann’s website, but the Congresswoman did get into hot water last week for describing North Korea as “the Wal-Mart of missile delivery systems”—which CNN claimed was an insult to Wal-Mart. Not so, said a Bachmann campaign spokesman—she was referring to North Korean efficiency in weapons distribution. Not often does one get “North Korea” and “efficiency” into the same sentence, but the Bachmann campaign managed to do it.
And finally, there's Jon Huntsman, the liberals’ favorite Republican. His website actually has separate sections labeled “National Security” and “Foreign Policy”—the others skip that last bit. And lo and behold! He actually has a statement on North Korea—admittedly in the form of a CNN interview--"Opportunity and risk in North Korean transition." Huntsman for Vice President!