When former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson returned from his bizarre, unauthorized vacation to North Korea last month, he took to the pages of the Washington Post to tell us that North Korean officials had assured him that “now that [the regime]’s security has been guaranteed by a successful satellite launch and nuclear test . . . the nation’s attention can turn to economic growth.” He averred that only if “the United States pursues additional sanctions in the United Nations” would the country pursue “another nuclear test.”
But today the North Korean regime tested another nuclear weapon. The United States, meanwhile, pursued no additional sanctions on North Korea following Richardson’s return. Quite the opposite in fact: since Richardson came back from his trip, President Obama has appointed a new secretary of state, John Kerry, who has a record of being far friendlier to the regime than his predecessor, Hillary Clinton. So much for the North Korean regime’s pivot to “economic growth,” so ballyhooed by Richardson.
Of course, this is far from the first time that Richardson’s misbegotten diplomacy has fallen flat on its face. In December 1994, Richardson traveled to North Korea to discuss enforcement of the supposed nuclear freeze that the Clinton Administration had negotiated earlier that year. The North Korean regime ended up reneging on that framework and precipitating the crisis we find ourselves in today. In 1996, he met with Slobodan Milosveic, shortly before the Butcher of Belgrade began his immiseration of Kosovo. In 2007, he negotiated a ceasefire with Sudanese strongman Omar Al-Bashir. Bashir violated the ceasefire just a few weeks later, and resumed his genocide in Darfur.
At this point, the best course for our national security interests may be for Richardson not to travel to any more rogue nations.