April 28, 2004

Berger's Vision: The Fisking XVII

Sandy Berger was commissioned by Foreign Affairs to produce a foreign policy essay for the next president from a Democrat perspective.

This is much too long to analyze in one shot, thus the numbered title, Part XVII is below:

The one country that we know has the capacity, and conceivably the inclination, actually to sell a working nuclear weapon to a terrorist group is North Korea. Yet the administration has reacted with inexplicable complacency as North Korea has crossed line after line on its way to becoming the world's first nuclear Wal-Mart. Pyongyang is now capable of producing, and potentially selling, up to 6 nuclear weapons at any time -- possibly 20 a year by the end of this decade -- something that even the most dire intelligence estimates did not predict in Iraq. We do not know how much plutonium North Korea has reprocessed into useable nuclear fuel over the past 18 months, since it expelled international monitors while we were busy negotiating the shape of the table.

For those not familiar with the term, to negotiate the shape of the table is a diplomatic tactic, seldom used by the US, to engage in a contest of wills, insisting that certain trivial issues must be negotiated before any talk of substance starts. The loser is he who agrees to the other's proposal for 'the shape of the table' thus admitting that he is the weaker party who will be giving the bulk of concessions when it comes to the substantial portion of the negotiation.

In the Korean War, it literally took the form of negotiations of the shape of the table at which talks would proceed and the excruciating length of these negotiations are where the term comes from.

Sandy Berger is preemptively announcing that in any negotiation with North Korea under a Democrat administration following his advice, the US will be the weaker party and the N. Koreans can wear us down with delaying tactics at will. How he can possibly give away the store so early and so publicly is beyond me. What is he thinking?

Posted by TMLutas at April 28, 2004 12:23 PM