Hooray for Jimmy Carter!
Jude Wanniski
June 17, 1994


If you watched the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour last night, you saw Secretary of State Warren Christopher being battered around mercilessly by Jim Lehrer in one of the most satisfying interviews of the year. How is it, Lehrer asked, that former President Jimmy Carter can go to Pyongyang and find that North Korean President Kim Il Sung is not a nuclear maniac, wanting to blow up the world? All he wants to do is talk! What kind of foreign policy establishment do we have that is willing to lead us to the brink of World War III, a Global Waco, based on information from low-level contacts in New York, where a U.S. bureaucrat talks to a North Korean bureaucrat? Why isn't Christopher sitting down with the North Korean Foreign Minister??? Christopher burbled an answer so embarrassing that Lehrer almost looked sorry for him, but instead went on to read from the lead editorial in yesterday's New York Times, which all but called for Christopher's resignation -- and that of fellow incompetent, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake. Christopher squirmed and smiled and said he knew there was some reason he hadn't bothered to read the Times yesterday morning.

For several months, we have been alerting you to the great North Korean Nuclear Hoax created by our Old Cold Warriors, who need an Adversary if they are going to stay off the unemployment rolls. The idea that Kim Il Sung has a nuclear weapons program underway is of course not a preposterous one, which is the only nail the Old Cold Warriors have needed on which to hang their hat. The problem is that North Korea's neighbors -- China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- do not believe North Korea has a nuclear weapon, and that we are only making Kim Il Sung crazy and paranoid, by beating the drums for an international blockade that will strangle their already miserable economy. If North Korea's neighbors do not feel threatened, why should we be threatening the neighbors with the unilateral use of force if they don't go along with our demands at the United Nations?

What are our Asian FRIENDS supposed to think when they read The Wall Street Journal's hysterical tirade on Wednesday's editorial page, by Karen Elliott House, international vice president of Dow Jones and wife of Dow Jones president Peter Kann? In "Korea: Raise Another Desert Shield," Ms. House rages incoherently about the crazed Kim, demands that we ignore the United Nations Security Council, impose a blockade against North Korea and "sink any Chinese ship that approaches North Korea," as well as mount "a major U.S. military buildup in South Korea and the surrounding seas." All this, of course, is tantamount to placing the U.S. on a war footing against 1.2 billion Chinese. Is this not Janet Reno, pulling the trigger on the Branch Davidians?

Hooray for Jimmy Carter! He has discovered what Korea's neighbors have known all along. Kim Il Sung knows that the communist experiment has failed! He looks around and sees klondike capitalism in China, a boom in South Korea, and Japan swamping Asia with exported capital, and he would like to join the club. Hey, he sees Fidel Castro appearing in public in a sports shirt for the first time in 35 years, signing up in Cartagena, Columbia for a Latin American common market, for goodness' sake. What does Kim have to do to join, is all he asks? This is the message Jimmy Carter is getting. In the Times today, he even tells us that the North Koreans would be happy to dismantle their old nuclear power plants, which produce the plutonium that goes into A-bombs, if the west will help them build new power plants, which do not. 

Two cheers for Bill Clinton, too! At least he had the good sense to send Jimmy on his way with a pat on the back, to find out what the heck was going on in Pyongyang. Now that we are not going to have World War III in Asia, maybe when Mr. Carter gets back we can dispatch him to Haiti, to find out what the heck is going on in Port-au-Prince before we blow up those poor folks. Or, to Bosnia, before Karen Elliott House, Margaret Thatcher, and Jeane Kirkpatrick order bombs away in the Balkans. In fact, why not simply bounce Warren Christopher and ask Jimmy to serve as Secretary of State? 

No cheers to our congressional leaders, Democratic and Republican, who have been beating the war drums without having the slightest idea of what's going on, except what they read in the newspapers and hear on the network evening news. Three cheers for Jim Lehrer! And three for Jimmy!