Saturday, June 23, 2007

Scratch One Flattop

At the end of 2003, pundit Rick Brookhiser at an NRO symposium predicted,
Bush's second term will be awful (all have been, except Monroe's).
And it seems he was absolutely correct.

However, let us not overlook the major successes, in spite of the many disappointments.

Remember the Axis of Evil? Iraq, North Korea, and Iran? The great danger was that any of them would become a nuclear power.

If the secret strategic goal of the Bush administration had been to decide that no matter what, for the security of the US and the world, those nuclear ambitions of the Axis would be terminated, we see that they are steadily making progress.

Recall that Saddam Hussein will now definitely never have an atomic bomb.

Recall that we also got Libya's secret atomic program shut down as a bonus.

And now by diplomatic means -- made credible by the use of regime-changing force elsewhere -- another dramatic result is in the works.

It isn't shut down until it's shut down, but:

US, N.Korea set timeline to shut reactor

TOKYO - The top U.S. nuclear negotiator arrived in Japan Saturday to discuss his surprise visit to North Korea, which he said yielded an agreement that could lead to a shutdown of the communist state's plutonium-producing reactor in July.
The trip — the first by a high-ranking U.S. official since October 2002 — came amid growing optimism that North Korea may finally be ready to take concrete steps toward fulfilling a promise to dismantle its nuclear programs.

Meanwhile, the North's state media reported that the country held "comprehensive and productive" discussions with Hill.
North Korean officials told Hill during his visit that Pyongyang was prepared to shut down the Yongbyon facility as called for in the disarmament agreement reached this past February, under which the North pledged to close the reactor and allow U.N. inspectors in exchange for energy aid.

Pyongyang was to have done that by mid-April, but missed the deadline over a delay in resolving a separate financial dispute involving North Korean funds frozen at a Macau bank.

The bank was blacklisted by the U.S. for allegedly aiding North Korea in money laundering and counterfeiting, leading to the freezing of some $25 million of North Korean money.

The money was freed earlier this year, but it was only last week that it began to be transferred to a North Korean account at a Russian bank.
Imagine that, we essentially forced their hand over a measly $25 million. When it's the little dictator's own money, it get's his attention! It's such an incongruously small sum, really, for the stakes involved, that it's almost funny.

Hand it to those Whispering Bankers...and the Evil Bush Patriot Act!

As I reported nearly four months ago,
Because all the circuits of the global financial system are inter-wired, the U.S. quarantine effectively extends to all major banks around the world. As Levey observed in a recent speech, the impact of this little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act "has been more powerful than many thought possible."

Treasury applied the new tools to North Korea in September 2005, when it put a bank in Macao called Banco Delta Asia on the blacklist. There was no legal proceeding -- just a notice in the Federal Register summarizing the evidence: Banco Delta Asia had been providing illicit financial services to North Korean government agencies and front companies for more than 20 years, according to the Treasury notice. The little Macao bank had helped the North Koreans feed counterfeit $100 bills into circulation, had laundered money from drug deals and had financed cigarette smuggling. North Korea "pays a fee to Banco Delta Asia for financial access to the banking system with little oversight or control," Treasury alleged.

Wham! The international payments window shut almost instantly on Pyongyang's pet bank. Transactions with U.S. entities stopped, but the Treasury announcement also put other countries on notice to beware of Banco Delta Asia. The Macao banking authorities, realizing that they needed the oxygen of the international financial system to survive, took regulatory action on their own and froze the bank's roughly $24 million in North Korean assets. And around Asia, banks began looking for possible links to North Korean front companies -- and shutting them down.
With Iraq and North Korea out of the way, that leaves only Iran, and Iran is being squeezed similarly.

Though the media portrays the Iranians as Supermen, simultaneously bankrolling Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban, and Iraqi terrorists with hampered access to the world financial system has got to be difficult.

If the administration really made a long-term strategy decision (I bet Cheney was instrumental) to the effect, Iran has to be next on the "list."

That would leave dealing with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- required to really squelch the global jihad -- for any following administration, but at least the budding not-yet-but-almost-nuclear rogue states would have been neutered!

A fantastic legacy, all things considered, if pulled off.

When the reactor shuts down, for some reason I can only think of the immortal words, Scratch One Flattop!
Admiral Dixon was a lieutenant commander in charge of dive bombers on the carrier Lexington in the May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea. He planted one of a dozen bombs that, with seven torpedoes, sank the Japanese carrier Shosho [the first Jap carrier sunk during WW2].

Stanley Johnston, war correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, was aboard the Lexington at the time of the attack on the Japanese ship and reported:

"All the tension on the carrier exploded the moment we heard Comdr. Dixon's voice come in strong and clear: 'Scratch one flattop! Dixon to carrier: Scratch one flattop.' "
And it was the first of many to be scratched.

Scratch one reactor!

Remember, after the Coral Sea, came Midway...


Blogger The_Bad said...

This is good news indeed. I wonder how democrats will attempt to either make it seem bad or hijack the success as their own. Perhaps Pelosi will plan a trip to North Korea before the shutdown to try and keep the reactor going?

1:00 PM, June 24, 2007  

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