Yet another foreign policy failure for the Bush administration. When they came to office in 2001, the Bush administration wasted no time in trashing all things Clinton. One of the first victims was the Clinton administration's approach to North Korea. Bush went saber rattling and before you could wink, North Korea's nuclear program was back on the table.
Then, the World Trade Center bombing occurred. By 2002, North Korea was being labeled part of the "Axis of Evil". More bluster followed, but by 2007 tempers had cooled and the Bush administration hailed a deal that they had made with North Korea. It was a deal that looked remarkably like...the one they had thrown out in 2001. In other words, it was basically the same deal that the Clinton administration had made. For 6 years the world endured the saber rattling of both nations. The Bush administration blinked, we ended up back where we started, and the administration crowed that it had scored a victory. Typical Republican pablum: tell the lie and scream it from the rafters and it must become the Truth. McQueeg is a master of this right now.
However, 2008 is a year of change. North Korea didn't want to be left out and who can blame them? Somehow, what was once hailed as a great foreign policy success is now unraveling. Sure, the Bushies will blame it on North Korea. While North Korea will blame it on the same problem that they had with the Clinton administration - that the U.S. wasn't fulfilling it's promises. There's probably a bit of blame to go around, but considering how incompetent this administration has been about numerous other agenda items, it's hard not to give the North Koreans the edge on this one.
Not that they are right in what they are doing. North Korea should not be using such a potentially dangerous option to extort aid from the west. These actions are immoral and unethical. Such actions only subvert the very soul of a nation and it's people and further distrust throughout the rest of the world. But they may also have a legitimate gripe with the way that the agreement is being administered.
How will this play out in the elections? That's hard to say. McQueeg is likely to consider this a boost to his campaign. He'll mock Obama's willingness to use diplomacy in order to achieve international goals. It will be Obama's response to this that will be crucial. Still, America's currently focused on itself and the economy. Problems abroad are not high on the agenda, though they are also more apparent than in the 2000 election where foreign policy did not rate a debate, sadly. This development will be important to the Obama campaign not so much because it is crucial in American minds, but because his response to it will help shape the opinion of him that Americans will form as a leader. Let's hope that he doesn't fail in the similar ways that Democrats have found to fail in the past.