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Public Statements

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Hearing on North Korea

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BIDEN:
And I'll just briefly refer to it. I would suggest and highly commend to my colleagues a report that Secretary Armitage—commend the Armitage report to my colleagues, and the report there's some key suggestions that spark discussion.

We have to regain the diplomatic initiative. The U.S. policy toward North Korea has become largely reactive and predictable with U.S. diplomacy characterized by a cycle of North Korean provocation or demand and American response. Good idea, but even now the Bush administration claims the ball is in North Korea's court. North Korea says that it's in our court. From where I sit, the ball is sort of stuck in the net somewhere, Mr. Secretary.

A new approach, you went on to say, must treat the agreed framework as the beginning of a policy toward North Korea, not as the end of the problem. (inaudible) clearly formulate answers to two key questions first. What precisely do we want of North Korea? And what price are we prepared to pay? Second, are we prepared to take a different course if, after exhausting all reasonable diplomatic efforts, we conclude that no worthwhile accord is possible? Another great question, you have answered, I think State have answered, but all due respect, don't think the administration has answered that question yet. At least I don't quite know the answer (inaudible).

You also point out that the U.S. point person should be designated by the president in consultation with congressional leaders and should report directly to the president, another good idea.

Mr. Kelly is a fine, fine guy. But I don't know that that's been in consultation with us. I don't know how far that has gone. And in no way, Mr. Secretary, am I suggesting you are not fully up to the job. But it raises the profile, it raises the issue here in this body if in fact it has been one that is more engaged at the front end. I think it's a point being made by—I hope I'm not mischaracterizing—but a point made by Senator Hagel about should be a little higher profile because we keep—we sound like we're downplaying it.

I won't go through the rest of the report. But I really, truly, I agree with what you say in the report. I know there—I shouldn't say know. It is my impression that there's some, not disagreement, but some nuanced differences—a word I know the president doesn't like when I use it with him, nuance—differences within the administration on how to proceed.

Which leads me to the essence of my statement, which is that as I understand, the chairman indicated that we should be talking and talking now and be prepared to discuss all issues now and need to have direct talks.

I think he's dead right. I've share that view from the outset, enunciated early on. And I have a few questions. Start the clock ticking on my five minutes now, since I didn't make the whole opening statement.

I am a little—let me just put it this way. How does the equation change in the minds of the administration in terms of moving this from an important issue to a crisis if it is—would be moved by it?

BIDEN:
How does the equation change if North Korea uncorks that stuff, reprocesses the material, gets the additional plutonium and goes from having one or two nuclear weapons to having six to eight, which is in the near term a capability they possess.

How do we view that? I mean, obviously we don't view that as good. It's a bad idea.

BIDEN:
But do we view that as materially changing our security relative to North Korea if the Lord Almighty came down and sat in the middle of this room and said, "Look, they're going to A, but that's all they're going to do"? What's the change between one to two and six to eight?

ARMITAGE:
Yes, sir.

First of all, thank you for the comments on that bipartisan report, which I chaired and even a member of your staff participated in. And you'll note that that...

BIDEN:
I think he's the one that recommended I read it.

ARMITAGE:
I thought he would.
That the basic recommendations in that bipartisan report were the basis for the so-called bold approach that President Bush authorized Assistant Secretary Kelly to convey to Pyongyang. And then, you will note that the so-called Armitage report is not very far from the excellent job that Bill Perry and Ash Carter—and they'll speak about it more astutely than I in a few minutes—engaged in where you gave North Korea a choice of two branches; one, good things follow, and the other, bad things follow. He didn't necessarily say that we were going to war, but that you would face a much more negative military equation than you face at the present time.

The big change in going from two to eight weapons would be on the danger of proliferation for the United States.

BIDEN:
Proliferation of the actual weapon?

ARMITAGE:
Of the fissile material, sir.

BIDEN:
The fissile material.

ARMITAGE:
Right now, the 8,000 fuel rods, if they were—they're taken out of the ponds (ph), if they move to the reprocessing facility, you could harvest, as I understand it, 25 to 30 kilos of plutonium, which would be enough for four to six weapons, which would then add up to your eight in several months.

BIDEN:
So we'd worry that they would divert the plutonium to some other source, whether it is a non-state actor or a state actor, as opposed to putting it in new nuclear warheads that they would produce.

ARMITAGE:
Let me explain my reasoning in this, Senator. First of all, the Republic of Korea is already under as much threat as they can stand when they have 40 percent of their population and 60 percent of their GDP under the guns and the rockets of the forward-deployed army of North Korea. So I don't think another nuclear weapon or two in that regard dramatically changes their equation.

Where it's changed in the first instance is with Japan, and this is where our equities are very high, and particularly if the North Koreans continue to develop their missiles. So it's the marriage of Taepodong capabilities, No Dong capabilities extended, where the threat to our allies comes in. And then laterally, right now we know that their Taepodong fired to 3,800 miles or so based on the 1998 test. And if that reached our shores then, of course, the threat goes up to us dramatically.

But we really are pushing back on the notion of crisis not because it has anything to do with Iraq, but because why tell the other guy he's gotten your attention so much.

BIDEN:
Well, the only reason is, if he got your attention because you are materially disadvantaged by what he is about to do.
OK. This notion of multilateral-bilateral—I think we'd all agree—I maybe wrong—that if we can do this multilaterally in talking with the North Koreans, it's a much better way to do it.

But in my discussions with the Japanese and the South Koreans, they're saying: Multilateral is good, count us in, but don't wait, we recommend you do it bilaterally. Now, I am wrong, are they not recommending that?

ARMITAGE:
No, they are indeed suggesting that. And our suggestion is not quite that we handle these talks multilaterally, but we have a multilateral umbrella of any sort...

BIDEN:
No, I understand that.
(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN:
No, I understand that. But this is a matter of maybe form over substance right now.
And what you're saying, so everybody understands, because I do understand it—the secretary's been kind enough to lay it out for me, as well—is that you're just looking for an umbrella so that we—not just—but looking for an umbrella where you have the Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans, the Japanese and anyone else, and us, who sponsors a meeting somewhere, whether it's New York or wherever else, and that that's the rationale for the meeting. But once in the meeting you and/or the secretary or old Kelly back there are going to sit down with these boys and talk turkey one-to-one.

ARMITAGE:
I suspect Mr. Kelly has blunted his lance for the North Koreans for a while.
(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN:
But seriously, I understand that's the rationale. The reason I pressed the first point—I realize my time is up and I'll cease, Mr. Chairman—but one of the reasons why I asked the first question, about how materially do things change in terms of our flexibility and our security and our concerns if we go from two to eight, because that's what we're talking about here.

BIDEN:
Once they uncork this, you have, as you point out, X number of kilos of plutonium that not only can be used to build those weapons, but also used to export to terrorists if they were so inclined, and that's going to happen pretty soon based on—that may very well happen pretty soon based on some intelligence data that has been made public, as well as what hasn't been made public.

I won't have a chance for a second round because you're going to have to go, but I really hope we do not let, you know, form impact so significantly on substance here.

ARMITAGE:
The secretary told me about your phone conversation with him over the weekend, sir. He took it very seriously. We discussed it on Sunday. And I know he laid for you our views.

BIDEN:
And I appreciate his point of view. Speaking for myself, not him, there is always the chance that this is a bluff, that they really aren't going to go forward and—to use the phrase being used now—"uncork this," and that we have time.
I'm not sure—what I wanted to ask and maybe someone else will is what is the down side? What's the downside for us, for example, us signing the non-aggression pact, for example? I mean, what is the downside if that's one of the demands? You don't have to answer it now because my time's up. Maybe someone else will want to speak to that.
I thank you very much.

BIDEN:
Very briefly, Mr. Chairman, back in the old days when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, after a couple of fairly high-profile hearings on the Supreme Court, a practice emerged whereby the administration—successive administration's, Democrat and Republican, I'm told, would school the perspective nominees in how to appear before a committee.

BIDEN:
And they would watch tapes of how the committee—Judiciary Committee functioned and witnesses before the committee, nominees, and how they responded.

I respectfully suggest the administration should put out a tape of how you respond to questions. It would be a very good measure for the rest of the administration when they come and testify...

ARMITAGE:
Thank you very much, Senator.

BIDEN:
... to watch.
BIDEN:
Gentlemen, I think this is some of the best testimony I've heard in the long time I've sat here. You each, sort of --- I don't whether you got together—but you each asked and spoke to and answered a different question that's in the minds of all our colleagues.

Ash, you laid out how we got to where we are in terms of what actually was negotiated, was anticipated, the context in which it was done, the decision process which basically came down to what you just said a moment ago: If there was a way to change the regime that was not going to be more catastrophic for us short term and our friends around the region short term and maybe long term, then that was an option that warranted being considered. But the conclusion was that that was not the best option and you choose another option, as I wholeheartedly agree with.

And I should note for those who may be listening, we're not talking to, you know, a uniform group of three specialists and experts who all come from the same political perspective here.

Ambassador Gregg, I thought—I don't want to in any way damage your credibility, but I thought your explanation and exposition on what you think went wrong was brilliant—absolutely brilliant. I mean, who knows for certain? But I was talking to Senator Hagel, I think it's the single most succinct and accurate and most probable explanation of us never being able to read someone else's mind as to how a series of a change of events and circumstances brought us to this point, without in any way making apologies for the regime in the North and being pretty hard-baked about it.
And Ambassador Bosworth, you being in another administration, and Ambassador Gregg, if I'm not mistaken, not that you speak for any Bush, but you had fairly close relationship with the first Bush, you are a very well-known Republican, so I just want the audience here to know, who may be listening, that this not somehow a panel that we put together or you put together, Mr. Chairman, that was decided to come at from one political perspective.
And I thought your explanation about essentially what went wrong in the South, Mr. Ambassador—Ambassador Bosworth, was equally as cogent. But it leads me to a couple of questions and a few generic observations.
One is that I do believe that early on the biggest issue that this administration occupied itself with, in terms of foreign policy/strategic policy/defense policy it's first year, was—and I, in turn, occupied myself with it—was the issue of national missile defense: it's nature, how broad it would be, how necessary it was. And to put it in raw political terms, if there had been a fundamental transformation, if there had been a revolution in the North and the present regime was overthrown, and a democratic republic was put in place, there would have been no rationale for national missile defense based on what was being suggested at the moment in terms of its urgency.

So we should all not kid ourselves that whether or not that moved the administration to be empathetic or sympathetic to a crisis occurring, I'm not suggesting that. But without North Korea there is a pretty lame—pretty lame—rationale for the urgency and the pitifully small, but incredibly expensive, national missile defense program that's come forward from the administration.

And then, on top of that I don't think we—I mean, I've been here for not—well, I've been here as long as you guys. I've been a United States senator for 30 years -- 31 years. I've dealt with seven presidents. And I say dealt with, I've served here with seven different presidents, probably only dealt with four in a real sense. And the fact of the matter is, I've never seen an administration as fundamentally divided as this administration is on our place in the world and how to deal with it. And we're kidding each other.

I know you all say, and you're all diplomats and you're all not going to go in and suggest that you know what he's thinking and what the administration, how—but this is a fundamental divide that exists not on Korea, but on the issue of the moral certitude and what response we take to that, and there is a legitimate case.

And I think we all make a big mistake if we don't go back and read the writings of the intellectual right on this notion and the foreign policy establishment over the last 10 years. There is a consistency.

I mean, we all make a mistake of not reading, you know, the think tank guys downtown. There is a genuine consistency to a very different road to be taken, a different path suggested, and has been being suggested since the late '80s.
And we have an administration now that's divided as to whether or not that path is the one to take—which I will at another time and place—not here—characterize in detail by quoting and reading the people who have been your counterparts on the other side of this equation who've been making a very sound, from their perspective, an intellectually defensible argument. I think they're wrong. But this is not something that is just a little bit of a difference on tactic within this administration.

BIDEN:
The thing that has startled me is that—startled is the wrong word—it's interested me is it tends to be a combination of the civilian military, the civilian defense, and the politicos in the White House, exempting the president—you don't think he's made up his mind, at least I pray to God he hasn't made up his mind yet—and, interestingly enough, the uniformed military and the State Department. I mean, I find this an unusual coalition in the way that things have broken down in past, Democrat as well as Republican, administrations.

And so the reason I bother to suggest this is that I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone, anyone in any country who loves us, hates us, fears us, has an incredibly warm feeling about us, to not acknowledge that.

They wonder whether or not we have set upon a path of regime change, not just here and not just in Iraq or in Iran or North Korea. There is. It'd be lying to the American people.

There are people in this administration, and they're good people. they're bright people, they're honorable people, they are acting out of what they think is the best interests of the United States of America, and there are our colleagues here who think regime change is the only answer.

So for us to sit down and assume that all North Koreans are stupid and they have not—they cannot detect that, is not to suggest that that's a reason they've acted the way they have, not suggesting they would have acted better if it didn't—if that were not part of the division within the administration.

But there are a lot of things that aid and abet in the confusion. My greatest worry, Ambassador Gregg, is that I don't think that Kim Jong Il is as much of an imbecile as he's made out to be, by any stretch of the imagination. Not by you, but, I mean, you know, the caricature of him.

But I do worry that he is isolated. I do worry he will make the mistake that is often made, as we make it, as well, between U.S. policy and Asian policy generically, of misreading, misreading, miscalculating what the response of the United States may be and/or the world may be to his actions.

I don't think he has a very keen antennae for that part of—that requirement of a leader. I'm not sure he is accurately assessing what may happen.

And the only conflict worse that one that is intended is one that is unintended. And I see this as a—I was thinking earlier, Mr. Chairman, of being a sophomore in college as a history major listening to a professor talk about how, when the Russian army mobilized in World War II (sic) along the border it never intended that it was going to end up in a war, and that then Germany responded, and how we got very rapidly to a point of no return very quickly that maybe history could have avoided depending on the misreading of one another and our intention.

And that's my greatest concern with regard to Kim Jong Il, that's my greatest concern: misreading us here.
Now, none of us can divine—at least I can't, and you've all said you can't although you're more qualified to do it that we are—what the final intention, if there's bee a final assessment made by Kim Jong Il now, as to whether or not he's concluded his security, if you will, his stability and power rests upon the acquisition of more nuclear weapons or whether it is still not too late to work something out. I don't know the answer to that question.

And I also don't know the answer to the question of how in charge is he in charge. One of you said that you thought that he was—he had to pay, he thought, significant—he's still working out control. I think it was you, Mr. Ambassador. And that the military is part of that issue and they are not particularly enamored with the prospect that there may be a diplomatic way to maintain their present position.

And so this leads me to—this long prelude here leads me to a couple of questions. I had the privilege of the president, without revealing it, confiding in me as to asking what I thought went wrong with his meeting with Kim Dae Jung. And I was interested, genuinely, as to the president's wondering why this went wrong, why things did not go very well in that meeting.

Well, I think part of where we are now is I think the administration, if not the president, was betting that President Roh was likely to lose and they would have a very different South Korea to deal with, Mr. Ambassador, which is part of, I think, their being perplexed now as to how to respond.

The one thing, Ash, you and Secretary Perry did so—I think the single most underestimated contribution you made, beyond the fact we don't have 50, 60 or 100 more, depending on the calculations, nuclear bombs or weapons out there, is that you made sure—I remember talking to you throughout this and to Wendy and to the secretary—you made sure that North Korea—I mean, excuse South Korea, Japan and us were on the same page. As my recollection was there was no daylight, none, no daylight.
And which leads me to why I'm a little perplexed about one aspect of your testimony. And that is that, although I think you think that should be reestablished if it can, Secretary Bosworth points out that South Korea, particularly in light of what they read to be—and I just returned from South Korea, as well, with Senator Sarbanes and Senator Specter.

BIDEN:
We met with the outgoing leadership, we went to the DMZ, we spent time there, we met with the South Korean generals, and I got—the same questions you got, Ambassador Gregg, in the North, I got those same questions in the south.

And I share your commitment, I have never abroad ever criticized the president, and I will not do that. I think it's totally inappropriate. And my answers weren't as succinct and as insightful as yours were, and as diplomatic. So I did not give many answers. I listened.

But we are in a slightly different pass, Ambassador Bosworth, in terms of what we view to be our, what is inimical to our interest, and what is most inimical to our interest.

And it's clear that it's going to be a little more difficult to put Humpty Dumpty back together again here. It's not, he hasn't fallen off the wall completely, but boy, the cracks and fissures are visible of him sitting up on the wall right now.
And so, I apologize, Mr. Secretary, for keep calling you Ash. Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ...

CARTER:
Just fine.

BIDEN:
... to ask you, if, in fact, the course of action which you broadly outlined and with some specificity, as to how you think we should proceed from here, if that fails either in its failure in not being initiated or fails in its execution, it is initiated and is not able to be executed, you talk about the need to have essentially a red line here; my term not yours.

In light of what Ambassador Bosworth said, I see no realistic prospect in the near term that we can credibly lay out a red line which is, "If you do not ultimately, North Korea, cease and desist with legitimate consideration being provided by the United States in a contract, you need consideration on both sides, if you do not cease and desist we keep the military option on the table."

I think South Korea has moved so far that how in the Hell do you keep that a credible option unless you first and fundamentally repair the relationship with South Korea?
That's my first question.

CARTER:
If I could take a crack at that, it's an excellent question and it's an issue of sequencing here. I think they go hand- in-hand. In other words, we can't repair our relationship with South Korea until and unless—and I think Steve Bosworth made this point—we show that we're on top of this issue.

On top of this issue means we have a strategy, we've arrived at that strategy and are conducting that strategy in a process that includes them in a respectful way as befits the people who actually live there.

And with that strategy we can then go forward to the North. So these two things have to proceed in parallel.
I don't think we can repair our relationship with South Korea ...

BIDEN:
Definitely, yes.

CARTER:
... let's repair that first, and then we'll go North. Part of the repair is to be indicating that we have a strategy for the North that includes them.

A final comment, I think red line's the right word. Red line is the right word. I think North Korea needs to be made to understand, and we need to understand ourselves, that them putting—going further than the freeze, taking those fuel rods out and putting them where we can't get at them, going beyond—doing irreparable harm to the status of the freeze...

BIDEN:
And by definition—is by definition, your definition of going beyond, and that is to begin to reprocess?

CARTER:
Absolutely.

BIDEN:
That's a red line, that's a fault line, right?

CARTER:
Yes, correct.

BIDEN:
Now, I'm going to ask you a question I understand you may not wish to answer because it is—I'm going to ask it in a way that I think that most Americans would understand it; presumptuous of me to say that.

But hypothetically, if the president of the United States, in this State of the Union message, in which he was very somber and straightforward—if in this State of the Union message he said, "Notwithstanding the fact that I do believe an axis of evil exists, it is not my policy to change the regimes in those countries, it is my policy to be prepared to act if those evil regimes take actions inimical to our interests," would that have changed the mindset at all? Or some version of that?

If the president were to enunciate and speak directly to it—I just got back from Davos. Every—I mean, literally, I didn't speak to every world leader who was there, and every head of state, but I spoke to one heck of a lot; you guys have been there. And the phrase, as if it were equivalent to the Monroe Doctrine, that everyone was familiar with, whether it was an African foreign minister or the head of state from a European country or the Middle East or Asia, was they all knew the phrase "regime change."

They all believe, whether they either—they move from either questioning, wondering, and/or being certain that this administration is driven by the notion that is borne out of an ideological purity, a moral certitude, that regime change is its obligation and mission. It will not do it willy-nilly, it will not do it if the price is too high, but that is the goal.
Now, how does that play? I mean, it's one thing—am I making any sense here? Can you speak to that a little bit?
How would it change if we were able, the president articulated that his policy dealt with—it's like, you know, the old thing, you know, love the sinner but hate the sin? You know, I mean, if it shifted, and it was believed, what impact would that have?

CARTER:
Well, I sometimes think, Senator, that we spend too much time talking about what we will do if. And I think in the case of North Korea, for example, I think in our consultation with South Korea we should publicly stress what we are prepared to do on what I would describe as the high road; how we are prepared to try to put this thing back together.
We should probably talk quietly and privately with South Korea about what we'd do if that doesn't work. But to the extent that we start talking about it publicly we undercut the effectiveness of what we're trying to do on the high road.
So, you know, I think sometimes we allow the rest of the world to participate, at least orally, in too much of our internal discussions over our role and purpose in the world. And it makes then very nervous.

We are a very powerful country, and since September 11th we're also a rather frightened country, and that combination really does upset people. Because they are not very certain about what we're going to do under certain circumstances.
So I think, in dealing with South Korea first and then North Korea, I think we ought to stress publicly what we are prepared to do, in a positive sense. To say explicitly that we are not prepared to contemplate regime change I'd rather—having said already what we've said in the past I'd like to get something for that statement.

BIDEN:
Anyone else?

BOSWORTH:
Your very interesting comments, Senator, remind me of my early days in CIA when there was a decision to undertake regime change by covert means, and Guatemala, Iran, and the disaster in Cuba, and it came to a stop. But an awful lot was lost out of that process, and we're still alienated from Iran, so I'm very much against it.

I think some of the hard-line people in the administration have no clear awareness of the consequences of what they're suggesting. I think the president is coming to realize that, and I take great hope from that.

GREGG:
Just one comment: I have been concerned since the freeze began to thaw and we have been so preoccupied with other things and have a difficult relationship with South Korea and are still formulating our strategy, that North Korea would get the opposite of the message we should be sending.

The message I fear they get is, "We're out to get you, but we're not going to do anything about your nuclear weapons." I would prefer just the opposite, which is, "We don't have to be out to get you, unless you're after weapons of mass destruction. We can keep on keeping on with you, much as we dislike you, but we can't if you're going after weapons of mass destruction."

And that's where, I think, our willingness to make that statement really is conditioned on their not pursuing weapons of mass destruction. So I would not also give it unless we got back from them the assurances we need that they're not going forward with weapons of mass destruction.

BIDEN:
One of the reasons why I, like Senator Dodd, from a slightly different perspective, am a little skeptical here about—and I agree with you, Ambassador Gregg, in my experience with the president I think this is a work in progress. I think he is working his way through this, I think he's listening to both sides of the argument being presented to him.

And so far—I get in trouble with my colleagues for saying this, on my side of the aisle—I think his instincts have been pretty good. I think at the end of the day he has made the right decisions, in my view.

I think we waste a lot of the good that could have come from those decisions by what it takes to lead up to it, but nonetheless I think—so I have some considerable faith, more than hope, that he will choose the path that you are—the three of you are, and the chairman and I—I think we're all on basically the same page, the generic path that we're talking about here.

But what I worry about is—and I hope it's changed—I think he—I don't think, at least at the outset that he—as former presidents who have also been governors at the front end, fully appreciated that little nuances are read as messages that change entire messages.

BIDEN:
When he said we were going to reconsider and we were going to go back, we always add something else into the mix, like the three things you set out, Secretary Carter, and what our objectives were, one of which was you hope to get to missiles, you hope to get to destruction of the facilities, et cetera. But you never insisted that also wrapped into this same agreement would be conventional.

And when the president threw in conventional, I think a lot of people around the world thought, "Well, this means he really doesn't want to proceed." Because there is very strong criticism in the center right of the whole agreed framework to begin with. I mean, it was an uphill battle once the Congress changed, as the ambassador pointed out.
And so, I hope—when he reaches this next point, I hope again we don't get to the point where he inadvertently or advertently places other conditions on discussions that doom it to failure from the outset, because it causes us to question our motives. I think are motives to be questioned when the offer is made.

Just as I hope the secretary of state, when he appears on Thursday before the United Nations and makes his case, my unsolicited advice is that he goes with what we have that's strong, and there's plenty there, and not overplay our weak hand, which is terrorism, Al Qaida and nuclear weapons. That may all be part of it, but I hope the devil we focus on what is unassailable, quite frankly. And I would hope we do the same thing as we get to this next point.

I'll conclude by saying, asking you—and I think there's agreement, but I don't want to misunderstand—do all of you believe that there is no way to accurately predict, there is no reason to believe that in the near term there will be a collapse in the North, that is, that the leadership in North Korea will collapse, will implode? I mean, is there any reason for any of you think that is a reasonable basis upon which a president should be making near-term planning?

BOSWORTH:
I agree with what some of my friends here have said, that waiting for a collapse is not a policy.

Now at the same time I would also observe that this is a system that's under tremendous stress. And I would be surprised, but not shocked, to wake up any morning and find there had been a very cataclysmic change in North Korea. I think that's always possible, but it is not a policy.

GREGG:
I don't think there is much likelihood of a collapse in the near term.

CARTER:
I don't know what the likelihood is, but I agree that you can't make a strategy on it.

BIDEN:
And the last question I have is, would you all elaborate slightly—I mean, for just a little bit, if you would, in the interest of your time and the chairman's—on what Ambassador Gregg touched on—I think he's the only one that touched on it—and that is who's in charge?

Give your best assessment to the degree in which you think and how much latitude and flexibility Kim Jong Il has in order to—assuming we get to this point where there are bilateral—under whatever umbrella, bilateral discussions with the North.

BOSWORTH:
My best analogy is perhaps the case of Argentina during the Falklands War when Secretary Haig was engaged in shuttle diplomacy between London and Buenos Aires. And he observed that when he went to Buenos Aires he had to consult with dozens of generals, even though it was a military dictatorship. When he went to London, he had to consult with only one person, and it was a democracy.

So I would suspect that Kim Jong Il has to, as Don Gregg said, take account of the views of others. He can't ride roughshod over what the military sees as its interest or a senior cadre in the party see as their interests. But I don't think he is, from all evidence—and again I stress we're doing all this on the basis of three or four data points on a big screen—from all evidence I see no conclusion that he is under any threat of being replaced or displaced.

GREGG:
The Chinese have told me that he took as long as he did to assume full leadership in North Korea because he took great care to make certain that he had real control over the military. And his choice of Jo Myong Rok to send to Washington in the fall of 200 was an indication of that, as he reached down into the ranks to pull up a man whom he trusted.
I think that the more we appear to threaten North Korea, the more threatened the North Korean army and military acts and the more claims they lay on Kim Jong Il. I think his ultimate hope is to be able to have a special economic zone, like Kaesong, filled with workers making widgets with which he can buy food for his starving people.

For that to happen, he has to be able to disarm some of his conventional military forces. And those guys don't want to be disarmed if they think that by disarming that opens up an attack from us.

So that's how I see it; that he is in charge, but he has to cater to this just absolutely imperative support of the military.

CARTER:
A final thought. I agree with everything that has been said. I'm always struck, as I think about North Korea, with the case of Albania.

Albania was two generations into Stalinism when it finally collapsed, the same kind of xenophobic absolute. North Korea is now almost a generation beyond that. We have—no Stalinist regime has lasted as long as North Korea.

CARTER:
North Korean students—children have, if my information is right, four hours of political education a day. Their parents had it and their grandparents had it. That's a phenomenon—that's a rigidity that I don't think humanity has experienced in dictatorship before.

And therefore, I don't have any doubt—I understand what is being said here about the need for any leader to enjoy the respect of those around him. But in that kind of system, if Kim Jong Il gives the order to go this way, they will go that way at least for a time.

That means that if he gives the order to go across the DMZ, they will go across the DMZ. It also means that if he gives the order to go in the direction of Deng Xiaoping or something else, they'll go in that direction also for a time—a critical time.

I don't know anybody on the North Korean scene who doesn't think that he is absolutely the audience for any message we sent.

BIDEN:
Well, I thank you both. Thank you for the time, all three of you. And really I can't tell you how much this committee appreciates having you.

I wish the three of you were running the policy right now.

(UNKNOWN)
That's a high compliment.

BIDEN:
Damned you by that comment, but I really do. I think it's first rate.

LUGAR:
Let me just conclude by saying I'm struck with the two phrases that came up frequently, particularly in the last panel, the "what went wrong" idea.

This very room has been filled with the Joint Intelligence Committees in the last Congress trying to determine what went wrong on September the 11th, what went wrong in terms of our perceptions, our policy, our preparedness, our ability really to understand the changes that ought to be made. And that work continues with the special commission, with the Intelligence Committees having been discharged from that.

But it brought to the floor in another way the work of Bernard Lewis, "What Went Wrong," the book that he wrote as to why we don't understand Islam and what happened in Islam throughout this period, why they've got real problems that they don't understand. These are really profound circumstances.

And I would just submit that, even given all the arguments that might occur in this current administration, one thing that went wrong for a long time was that the American people lost interest in foreign policy and so did many of their leaders in this Congress. For many years, people were interested, and continue to be interested, in health care, in education for the American people, the ups and downs of our economy and jobs issues. And any one of us who is an elected politician needs to understand that, this is what people want to talk about.
Now, occasionally...

BIDEN:
This used to be the hardest committee to get on, too.

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