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On North Korea, George Bush Has 'Some 'Splainin' to Do'

Reported by Judy - July 5, 2006 -

In the 1950s, when America's favorite red head got into some sort of mess that caused her husband a headache, Rickie Ricardo would wag his finger at her and call her to account with, "Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do." Now is the time for America to demand some 'splainin' from George Bush.

More than four years after George Bush declared North Korea part of the "axis of evil," North Koreans have launched missiles two days in a row. While chasing non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and trumping up the threat of Iran some day being able to build a nuclear bomb, the Bush administration has allowed North Korea to forge ahead with its missile program.

Wednesday (July 5, 2006) would have been a good time for Fox News to demand "some s'plainin'" from George Bush, but of course, it did not. On "Dayside," co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Alisyn Camerota failed to ask difficult questions about why Bush allowed this to happen and downplayed the threat to the U.S. With the Bush administration going to the U.N. to get a resolution condemning the missile launches, Fox News seemed to be taking the line that that's the only option.

In an interview with James Lilley, a former ambassador to China under Ronald Reagan, Camerota asked why Bush doesn't push for regime change, which she well knew is impossible for the U.S. to attempt in North Korea with its forces bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lilley responded that North Korea's neighbor, China, does not want regime change or severe economic pressures put on North Korea because that could cause millions of desperate North Koreans to pour into China as refugees. And he said fomenting it internally is difficult because the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, is well-entrenched, portrays himself as a god, and buys off the influential classes.

An audience member asked the most direct question, wondering, "The U.S. is still saying North Korea isn’t a threat to national security. What will it take for North Korea to be considered a threat to national security?” Lilley reassured her that, "They’re a long way from developing a nuclear warhead to put on top of a missle.”

Later, the co-hosts interviewed neo-con Frank Gaffney, who heads a think-tank funded by defense contractors. He downplayed the World War III suggestion offered by Jerrick.

" I don’t think North Korea constitutes a threat to the world at this point," he said.
"I believe that it is working towards having the capability to threaten the United States and it certainly already is threatening its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, and it is trying very hard as we’ve seen in recent years to parlay these various threats, particularly nuclear missiles of the kind that we’ve seen tested in the past few days, to extract political concessions, financial concessions, strategic concessions from the world in a way that I think is not going to succeed, but unfortunately is actually going to make the danger greater to all of us."

Gaffney urged the U.S. to work for regime change, despite Lilley's statements of a few minutes earlier of the difficulties involved with that.

On with him was David Kang, Dartmouth University professor of Asian studies, who doubted that China would cooperate in forcing regime change in North Korea. Gaffney was allowed to dominate the discussion, but Kang did make the point that North Korea does not have a deliverable nuclear warhead. "They have six nuclear warheads, but right now to deliver them they would have to actually hand carry them or put them on a truck," he said.

Gaffney also claimed that the U.S. could have intercepted a North Korean missle with the Star-Wars missile defense system the Bush administration has been wasting billions on yet never been able to make work except in the most contrived sort of pre-arranged tests.

The two episodes were a little strange. After all the outrage shown by the Bush administration at Iran's infant nuclear ambitiions, the Bushies sat by and let North Korea launch seven or more missles in two days, despite having had plenty of advance warning. And their response is to run to the United Nations, which Bush and Fox News belittle at every opportunity.

Bush has had six years to resolve this issue with North Korea. Even in the last few days, he had options. The U.S. could easily have taken out the long-range missile as it sat on the launch pad, something Democrats called for him to do. North Korea would have had few options for retaliating, yet Bush did nothing.

Bush may intentionally be letting the crisis build, possibly in hopes that he can panic the American people into supporting Republicans -- and more money for the failed missile defense system -- in the fall by claiming Republicans are the only people who can keep us safe -- from a problem that Bush himself allowed to occur.