With the understandable focus on Iraq this week, some interesting developments in North Korea have slipped under the radar. In the past five months, Chris Hill, Assistant Secretary of State and the lead on recent dealings with Pyongyang, has accomplished what five years of neocon hardline policy could not, culminating earlier this week with North Korea's closing of their plutonium producing facility in Yongbyon.
This is a tremendous -- if still tenuous -- step towards disarmament, and an important indicator of foreign policy both micro and macro. Specifically regarding North Korea, it means that we *can* affect their actions and thinking, despite hysterical conservative claims of North Korean irrationality and insanity. And generally, it helps prove the point many of us have made for years: negotiation works, and engagement is far better than isolation and brinkmanship. It may not be exactly what we want or like, and it means dealing with some despicable regimes, but it can get the job done.
For someone with a brain in his head, this would be a freakin' CLUE. There are few more despotic people on earth than Kim, but he can recognize reality and when a coalition of interested parties offered him a small carrot in exchange for shutting down the nuclear plant, he grabbed it.
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