Why didn’t the last three presidents take out North Korea’s nuclear facilities when they had the chance? The answer is Seoul, the thriving capital of South Korea.
As the world ponders the meaning of President Donald Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” on North Korea, it’s worth asking why his predecessors never took those steps to stop its nuclear program.
When Bill Clinton was confronted with the threat of North Korea’s exit from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he considered military force. But he ended up going for negotiations in what became known as the Joint Framework Agreement. The North Koreans froze their plutonium program in exchange for fuel shipments and a light water reactor from the U.S. Neither side ever fully delivered.
Then there was George W. Bush. He didn’t like North Korea. He put the nation in the original “axis of evil.” On his watch, the U.S. discovered Pyongyang had a secret uranium-enrichment program, in violation of the spirit of Clinton’s deal. Then in 2006, North Korea tested its first nuclear device. By 2007, Bush had lifted crippling sanctions on the regime’s elites and entered into new negotiations. And surprise, the North Koreans backed out of those talks at the end, too.
By the time Barack Obama came into power, the North Koreans were back to building up their program. They perfected missiles, sunk a South Korean ship and shelled a South Korean island. The current tyrant, Kim Jong-Un, ascended to power and proceeded to consolidate his position, killing his uncle and later his half brother. All the while, Obama pursued a policy of “strategic patience,” aimed at not rewarding Kim’s regime for its provocations and rogue behavior.
Now Trump has inherited a mess. Not only is Kim testing ballistic missiles at an alarming rate, as The Washington Post reported this week, but also the Defense Intelligence Agency now assesses North Korea can miniaturize a nuclear warhead so that it can fit inside a missile. Game, set, match.
So why didn’t the last three presidents take out North Korea’s nuclear facilities when they had the chance? The answer is Seoul, the thriving capital of South Korea. The North has enough artillery pieces within range of this metropolis to kill hundreds of thousands of people, which could very well begin a world war and throw the global economy into a tailspin.
Past presidents have understandably feared the North would retaliate in…