March 10, 2018


What Trump Can Learn from Madeleine Albright About North Korea Talks: Take it from someone who accompanied that secretary of state on a humiliating visit to Pyongyang in 2000. (Eli Lake, March 9, 2018, Bloomberg)

I was on that trip with Albright in the last week of October 2000. It was a low moment for American diplomacy, where a secretary of state, whose family fled the Iron Curtain, flattered an imitator of Josef Stalin. She ended the visit by handing over a basketball signed by Michael Jordan. Her delegation enjoyed elaborate multi-course banquets with North Korean officials who only a few years earlier had presided over a famine. 

As secretary of state for President Bill Clinton, Albright traveled to Pyongyang in a last-ditch effort for an administration that had watched its main foreign policy priority -- a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians -- unravel. This was a chance in the final months of the Clinton presidency for a legacy.

Needless to say, it didn't work. Albright had hoped to finish the work the Clinton administration had begun in 1994 with an interim agreement on North Korea's nuclear program, by getting a follow-on pact on missiles. The U.S. offered security guarantees, fuel and food shipments, help on building peaceful reactors. The North Koreans kept developing and testing their missiles and, U.S. intelligence agencies would later learn, built a uranium enrichment facility in secret.

You wouldn't have known this from the pageantry in Pyongyang back in 2000. We were all crowded into buses for a special performance at May Day stadium. In a near-perfect metaphor for life in a totalitarian state, hundreds of North Koreans gathered on the field, and in military precision flipped picture cards to create a series of tableaus depicting North Korea's founding hagiography. At one moment, a tableau depicted the 1998 launch of the Tae-Po-dong missile. Albright wrote in her memoir the "dear leader," Kim Jong Il (the father of Un) turned to her in this moment and said this "was our first missile launch and our last." He lied.

Donald was actually making sense when he wanted to regime change them with nukes.

Posted by at March 10, 2018 1:21 PM