Wooing North Korea
March 6, 2001
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The New York Times has a front-page news article today ruing the fact that Bill Clinton's term expired before he was able to finish appeasing the Communist dictatorship in North Korea.
It's all phrased according to the journalistic conventions of a Times news article, but when you come right down to it, it's clear that the article is expressing a view that is identical to the one in the Times editorial today on "A Visit by South Korea's Leader."
The reason the Times is so disappointed that the Clinton administration didn't conclude its deal with North Korea seems to be that, had the deal gone through, it would have taken away an argument from proponents of missile defense. Here's how the news article puts it: "The episode remains vitally relevant because the North Korean missile threat has been the main driving force behind the debate in Washington over American missile defenses, and because President Bush has yet to declare whether he plans to carry through or modify the Clinton administration's strategy."
It's overstating it to say "the North Korean missile threat has been the main driving force behind the debate in Washington over American missile defenses." The missile threats from Iran, Iraq, Communist China and Russia are driving forces as well; if they aren't, they should be.
The Times news department lets us know where its own views are on the matter by concluding the article with the note that "critics inside and outside the government say Mr. Clinton made a mistake by not sending Ms. Sherman to Pyongyang despite the Florida problem."
"They did not run out of time; they ran out of courage," the Times quotes the author of a book on Korean diplomacy as saying.
And then the Times trots out Madeleine Albright to express her own regret that the deal with North Korea was not finalized before the end of the Clinton administration.
There are dozens of policy experts out there who would say something like, "Thank goodness America and free Asia escaped without Clinton pledging $1 billion in aid to prop up this awful communist dictatorship in exchange for a false sense of security that the dictator would abandon his missile program." The Times doesn't have to agree with those policy views. But it sure would be nice if, when the Times quoted experts in its news articles, the newspaper would occasionally include the anti-appeasement point of view, just for the sake of fairness and balance, in addition to the usual Times view that is expressed in today's editorial and in the voices of the carefully selected experts that the Times relies on to give context to its news reports.
Pataki Names a Woman: An article in the metro section of today's New York Times runs under the headline: "Pataki Names a Woman to Head Environmental Department." The article mentions prominently that "She would be the first woman to hold the job." Unless there is some unknown history of discrimination against women that is particular to the state environmental conservation office, it seems odd that the Times makes such a big deal of the fact that the appointee is a woman.
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