[Overseas view]Hear no axis see no axis

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[Overseas view]Hear no axis see no axis

The deal to release all 25 million in frozen North Korean funds at Macau's Banco Delta Asia, represents a final, humiliating
reversal of American President George W. Bush's take-no-prisoners foreign policy. And it illustrates again how Kim Jong-il can run rings around supposedly the mightiest nation on earth. It's a deal so small that it's questionable how far it will resonate with the American remarkably docile conservative voters, who ought to be furious because it shows how desperate the Bush
administration is to bargain for even tenuous Asian security.
Along with Iraq and Iran, Mr. Bush famously branded North Korea as part of an “axis of evil" and from the start designed a
policy that envisioned engineering the collapse of dictator Kim's government. But in the six years since he was elected
president, Mr. Bush has had to face reality. Nasty as the North Koreans may be, nobody but the United States wanted the North to
collapse. This is not the Middle East, and neither China nor South Korea was having any of the bid to destabilize this region by
ending Mr. Kim's reign, which was inevitably going to cause more chaos than anything else.
The Banco Delta Asia agreement, in which the U.S. Treasury Department concluded an 18-month “investigation" that ultimately
clears the way for Macau authorities to release the frozen funds, is a farce. Banco Delta Asia was branded by the United States
as a major conduit to the west for profits from the sale of illegal drugs by North Korea and peddling bogus U.S. currency
printed on North Korea's sophisticated printing presses. The bank, for the record, maintains that it did nothing wrong. But
never mind.
Although the larger six-party agreement, signed to supposedly freeze North Korea's nuclear program, was partly conditioned on
stopping the North from peddling counterfeit bills and trafficking in illegal drugs, this agreement isn't going to do it. It is
still possible even for greenhorn tourists to go to Dandong, China, the gateway to North Korea, and buy phoney U.S. money on the
For all the bluster, the U.S. strategy of dragooning other countries into the bogus “war on terror," and the determination to
promote “freedom and democracy" worldwide, is over, gone with the departure of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the
apparent sidelining of Vice President Dick Cheney. The Banco Delta Asia agreement is an indication that the United States has
accepted as the price of a suspect nuclear agreement the reality that North Korea is going to keep peddling counterfeit money.
Reality. Perhaps the most salient quote ever attributed to a senior Bush administration official was delivered to Ronald
Suskind, who wrote the 2004 book “The Price of Loyalty." “Guys like me," Suskind said he was told by a White House aide, “were
‘in what we call the reality-based community,' which the aide defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your
judicious study of discernible reality.'" The aide told Mr. Suskind, “That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're
an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality."
The empire is now creating an entirely new and uncomfortable reality that a toothless agreement to freeze North Korea's nuclear
weapons, and the apparent agreement that the bogus funds that exist in Banco Delta Asia are, well, maybe not so bogus,
exemplifies the promotion of “freedom and democracy" across the world. Banco Delta Asia was designated by the U.S. State
Department in September 2005 a “primary money laundering concern" under Section 311 of the U.S. Patriot Act. What all that means
now, we're not quite sure.
From the start, after excoriating the Clinton administration's 1994 agreement to try and work a deal with North Korea,
Washington's neoconservatives learned that they had no leverage over a country with nothing to lose but with a military force
that could turn Seoul into a smoking ruin in hours. There was also the U.S. relationship with China to consider.
So for six years, the Bush administration sat on its hands, hurling the occasional threat. Kim Jong-il, no fool, began some
blackmail of his own. He announced North Korea was opting out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and began to build the
bombs the world had always suspected he was building in the first place.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Earth the Bush administration was committing the biggest strategic blunder since Adolf
Hitler ordered the invasion of Russia during World War II, by blitzkrieging Iraq without provocation, accompanied by a handful
of reluctant partners it designated the “coalition of the willing." Today, the United States is in a trap in Iraq that it can
neither get out of nor stay in. So back to the man with the bomb in the mysterious Orient who was giving him fits. Mr. Bush had
to negotiate.
The agreement that the United States ended up with may be the best of a bad bargain North Korea agreed to shut down its Yongbyon
reactor, freeze its production of plutonium and allow international inspectors to monitor and verify compliance in return for
food and fuel.
It doesn't have to dismantle its facilities. The agreement doesn't require North Korea to denounce outright all of its nuclear
activities and it gets to hold onto the smoking gun, what may be as many as four or five bombs or the wherewithal to make them
in short order.
Predictably, the deal kicked off a storm of protest from the hardliners who once made up the Bush SWAT team of neoconservatives including John R. Bolton, the superhawk who was unable to win nomination as U.N. ambassador because almost everyone, including
members of his own party, detested him. Mr. Bush, the decider-in-chief, blinked into the headlights on Feb. 13: “I am pleased
with the agreements reached today at the six-party talks in Beijing. These talks represent the best opportunity to use diplomacy
to address North Korea's nuclear programs. They reflect the common commitment of the participants to a Korean Peninsula that is
free of nuclear weapons."
Six years of threats and toothless intimidation from the most militaristic United States administration since Mr. Bush's hero,
President William McKinley, invaded the Philippines, have come to this. The U.S. cuts a deal with a crooked bank in order to
make a deal with North Korea.
This is the new reality that this empire is creating for the world.

*The writer is the editor of the Web site asiasentinel.com from which this article is excerpted.

by John Berthelsen
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