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February 14, 2008

That Wacky, Wacky O'Hanlon
Posted by Michael Cohen

Because I love a pile-on as much as the next guy, I had to reference this from Michael O'Hanlon's utterly inane op-ed in the WSJ today:

More recently, Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill's interim progress in convincing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear capabilities has resulted from a more flexible U.S. attitude -- combined with tougher Chinese and South Korean policies toward North Korea after its 2006 nuclear test -- not from presidential summitry. Direct bilateral contact has been a necessary precondition to progress with the North Koreans, to be sure. But high -level engagement has not been the chief explanatory variable for predicting success or lack thereof.

You know maybe I need to look a bit closer at Barack Obama's web site, but isn't a more "flexible attitude" precisely the point that Obama is making by saying we need to talk to our enemies.

Obama's complaint is (and granted take my words with a grain of salt since my application to the Very Serious Foreign Policy Community is still pending) that this Administration refuses to talk to our enemies, like Iran and Syria, at any diplomatic level, no less the presidential level - and that this is harming our national interests. Case in point, the fact that our Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad was recently upbraided by the State Department for simply participating in a panel discussion with two Iranian diplomats at the World Economic Forum.

It's as if O'Hanlon seems to believe that the first thing Obama is going to do after taking the oath of office is get on a plane, fly to Pyongyang, sit down with Kim Jong Il for some bulgogi and kimchi, play a little ping pong, maybe watch a few movies (Kim is a big film buff) and then maybe take a few minutes to talk about that pesky nuclear program.

Honestly, if you're going to criticize the guy fine; but at least criticize him for what he is actually saying as opposed to some phantom argument that only seems to exist in Michael O'Hanlon's head.


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What O'Hanlon completely missses in his editorial is that the Clinton administration did have a dialoge with Kim Il Jong to end North Koreas's weapon program and mananged to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions through incentives. However the Clinton administration did not negotiate with the reformist president of Iran during the nineties and probably blew a great opportunity to thrawt Iran's nuclear program. So O'Hanlon is completely wrong in his analysis of the nineties because negotia