If you were transfixed this week by the goings-on at Abu Ghraib prison – reopened last year under new management – it may have slipped your notice that the Bush Doctrine has come a cropper in the Western Pacific.

Our “diplomats” were in Beijing, this week, demanding that North Korea submit to a “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling” of all its “nuclear programs.”

It is conceivable that North Korea may agree to let the International Atomic Energy Agency re-enter to verify that there are no nuclear programs that are non-peaceful – and hence violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But we are really asking the Koreans to submit to another application of the Bush Doctrine.

In President Bush’s first State of the Union message he essentially accused North Korea, Iran and Iraq – the axis of evil – of having clandestine nuke programs.

But all three nation-states were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. All three had their nuclear facilities subject to IAEA periodic inspection and/or continuous surveillance.

So, Bush’s charges essentially amounted to a vote of “no confidence” in the IAEA’s ability to detect NPT violations.

Then, as Bush completed assembling his invasion force in October 2002, he demanded that Iraq submit to a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of “weapons of mass destruction” programs, including uranium-enrichment facilities.

Now, that latter demand got the North Koreans’ attention.

Under the US-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994, all existing Korean “nuclear” activities had been “frozen” – under IAEA lock and seal – in return for a promise of free nuclear power plants and an interim supply of free fuel-oil.

Some unnamed U.S. official had just informed a media sycophant that he had accused an unnamed North Korean official of having a clandestine uranium-enrichment program, and that the Korean had “admitted” that they did.

Now, such a clandestine program would have been a violation of the spirit of the U.S.-DPRK agreement – if not the letter – and would have been a violation of the NPT if any enriched uranium so produced was to be used for nukes.

Korean officials immediately denied “admitting” any such thing and have consistently denied – as recently as this week in Beijing – that they have such a program.

Nevertheless, on the basis of the media sycophant’s “report,” we ceased making the fuel-oil shipments required by the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework in October 2002.

Nevertheless, in early December, we got the IAEA Board of Governors to send the Koreans a request for “clarification” about the “reported” enrichment program. The North Korean response was to demand that the IAEA immediately remove all locks, seals and surveillance cameras from all facilities that had been subject to the Agreed Framework.

The IAEA Board of Governors had agreed to monitor the Agreed Framework, but that bilateral agreement had been effectively abrogated months before. When the IAEA refused to recognize that, North Korea concluded that we controlled the IAEA Board of Governors.

So, North Korea announced it was withdrawing from the NPT, too. They unsealed nuclear facilities, turned off IAEA surveillance cameras, restarted their plutonium-producing reactor and began recovering weapons-grade plutonium from their “frozen” spent fuel.

On Dec. 31, 2002, IAEA inspectors left North Korea, thereby suspending IAEA verification activities for both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework.

The neo-crazies ought to have been dancing in the streets. Ding-dong, the IAEA is dead. Or at least badly wounded. That had long been a neo-crazy goal.

Now the neo-crazies could apply the Bush Doctrine anywhere, without having to worry about those pesky IAEA inspectors. They could claim North Korea had nukes, launch a massive “shock and awe” campaign, deploying hundreds of thousands of ground troops and employing our nukes only if it turned out North Korea actually did have nukes.

What about China? Would they come to North Korea’s aid?

Not to worry. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur predicted, the Chinese won’t assist Pyongyang, for fear we might nuke them, too.

So what will we do if the North Koreans refuse to allow us to apply the Bush Doctrine to them?

Well, initially, nothing, since we’re bluffing. And after the disastrous application of the Bush Doctrine in Iraq, everyone knows it – including China.

Eventually, however, China will rake in all the chips. There’ll be a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea and Okinawa, Korean re-unification and a repudiation of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

Meanwhile, the mess in the Persian Gulf will get worse and worse, even if President Bush is limited to one term.

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