Sunday, April 8, 2012

Looking glass... redux


The November 29th, 2010 blog entry, 'Getting to agreement', cataloged a number of examples to support the following:

"This blogger's thesis is that the achievement of these "historic" agreements by President Obama has been more due to the artful crafting and composition of documents that the various parties can "agree" to without their having to actually change their positions substantively... That in all the cases cited, President Obama did not somehow convince the various parties to come to a common understanding by the force of his intellect and/or argument, but by devising agreements that contained sufficient ambiguity that the various parties could "agree" to them."

A more recent example occurred with the 'deal' between North Korea and the U.S., in which North Korea agreed "... to temporarily suspend nuclear tests, long-range ballistic missile launches and other nuclear activities, including enrichment of uranium... a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests... and... to allow United Nations inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency access to nuclear facilities so they can verify and monitor the suspension of uranium enrichment activities" in exchange for the U.S. provision of "... 240,000 metric tons of food aid over a period of a year..."

Secretary Clinton hailed this as a "... modest step in the right direction." A more cautious line was taken in the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences, which noted that the devil was in the details, and that both sides did not seem to be on the same page on the details - "... But on closer inspection, it's too soon to pop the cork on the champagne bottle: Real progress depends on Pyongyang's actual fulfillment of this latest agreement. The devil is in the details. The statements released simultaneously by the US and North Korea reflect some stark contrasts, which are quite telling of each nation's respective stances, offering clues on what to expect in future discussions and negotiations. In its statement, the United States indicated that the return of IAEA inspectors includes confirming the disablement of a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor and related facilities that was undertaken during the six-party talks. This understanding is absent in North Korea's statement..."

Before the administration could say much about the 'deal' (lucky for them!) the North Koreans vowed "sacred war" on the South (which perhaps could be chalked up to routine North Korean jingoistic exuberance, and ignored), then announced that they would be launching a satellite in honor of the 100th anniversary of its founder... This caused the 'deal' to fall apart.

More information regarding the process and how this came to happen is available at Rockets and the Leap Day Deal.

Ouch!

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