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Bill Perry Blasts Bush and Obama on North Korea, Says This Is a Promising Window for Negotiation

June 13, 2017 (EIRNS)—Former Defense Secretary William Perry spoke "from the heart" (as he said) at the Institute for Korean Studies at George Washington University today. His recent book, "My Journey at the Nuclear Brink," which has just been released in Chinese, issued a stern warning against Obama’s drive for war in Asia, and has advised the new administration on the urgency of talking to North Korea.

A beautiful anecdote he gave: In 2006, four years after the Bush/Cheney team had ripped up the Agreed Framework which Perry and others had negotiated in 1994, and set North Korea on the path to building nuclear weapons, Perry was invited to Pyongyang to attend a guest performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been invited by North Korea. Perry had been attending the inauguration of the new South Korean President the day before, and explained that he could not make it (one had to travel to the North via Beijing, so there was not time). They offered to drive him across the Demilitarized Zone, and he accepted.

He knew this was a signal, and asked Condoleeza Rice if she would go. She said, "No, it’s only a concert." Perry said: "That’s like saying the ping-pong with China was only ping-pong."

He then attended the concert, which he said was magnificent, Everyone stood for the Star Spangled Banner, and the final piece, a Korean folk song, had the most hardened North Korean generals in tears. A twenty-minute standing ovation followed the concert.

"And I was the only U.S. official there." After this failure to respond to a message from Pyongyang, he said, it was all downhill.

"Sixteen years of feckless policy—or rather, no policy," he said about Bush and Obama, "I’m bi-partison on this."

"You have to understand what the other side wants in diplomacy. We stopped listening. Bush wanted to overthrow the Kim Dynasty—well, that’s okay, but there was no way to do it, so it was foolish. Then Obama’s "strategic patience—squeeze them and the Kim regime will collapse. Foolish, the same feckless policy."

From years of working with North Korea, he said, he knows that they will never use their nuclear weapons, since they are neither crazy nor irrational, despite their ruthless actions. He understands that they have three goals: sustain the Kim dynasty; gain international respect; and build the economy—but it is important that it is in that order. They need economic development, and are calling for it, but never at the expense of losing the dynasty nor of being humiliated internationally. Their nuclear weapons give them these two things.

Therefore, he believes, a solution requires granting them their nukes, at least for now, and calling for an end to testing, both bombs and missiles. This can be verified without inspectors on the ground.

But, the United States has no dis-incentives, since they have cut all support and loaded on sanctions. Only China has disincentives available, but will not go too far.

Thus, the U.S and China must, together, talk to the North, and assure them there will be no war, no regime-change, no humiliation. EIR intervened to add that Russia must be part of that, and that it is only if Pyongyang believes that the United States, China, and Russia are truly working together, as Trump is tending to do, that they will make any deal. Perry responded: "I agree with you. I strongly agree. China is key, but Russia is crucial, and must not be left out."

On the Six-Party Talks, he said they clearly failed, but the reason is that neither Bush nor Obama had a policy. Economic offers are good, but not sufficient. They must first be given security and respect, and are willing to give up economic support if they don’t get it.

Now, he said, with the new administrations in South Korea and the United States, there is a new window of opportunity, "a very promising window."