Last week the United States launched its “bizarro diplomacy” initiative. Bizarro is the name taken from a Superman comic where the reader is transported to a world where everything is backwards. In the bizarro world, all good things are bad and all bad things are good. Vice President Joe Biden announced last week that the Taliban are not enemies of the United States, and the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy R. Sherman, announced that the North Korea’s brutal dictator Kim Jong Il was “smart, witty and humorous.”
Vice President Biden, in an interview with Newsweek Magazine, said that “the Taliban per se is not our enemy.” This incredible statement prompted The Washington Times to publish an editorial on December 20, 2011, with the headline “Why are we killing them if they’re not our enemy?” Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney joined in by stating: “They (the Taliban) are killing our soldiers.” One commentary article simply ran the headline “Major Confusion in the Administration.”
One of the many facts that Vice-President Biden seems to have forgotten is that pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended by President George W. Bush in 2002, the “Islamic Movement of Taliban” or “Tahrik-e Islami’a Taliban” (i.e., the Quetta Shura or Afghan Taliban) has been officially designated by the United State as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” or FTO. That designation can be found in the Annex to EO 13224 and on the U.S. Treasury’s Internet web site, although it is oddly missing from the State Department’s web site. Such designation makes it a violation of American criminal law to provide any support or assistant to the Taliban and its members. The Taliban is therefore not an insurgent group but a terrorist organization and as a matter of Federal law, an enemy of the United States and an enemy of Joe Biden.
What is missing from the outrage in the United States this week is any deep analysis that would explain the Vice-President’s seemingly bizarre comments. It may be that the U.S. Government has secretly concluded that with major troop withdrawals planned for 2012 from Afghanistan, any progress made in 2011 against the Taliban will begin to disappear. The fear for the Obama Administration is that by November 2012, the Taliban will be seen as surging and the Afghan government’s hold on the countryside will be seen as slipping away even further. Facing the prospect of an eventual Taliban victory, the Vice-President has begun to rewrite history so that he and the President can later claim that the U.S. never went to war against the Taliban and therefore the Taliban can never be victorious against America. If the Obama Administration has actually concluded that the war is not winnable, that is a fact that must be immediately shared with the American and Afghan people so that the issue can be debated and a future course charted. It borders on being criminal to withhold such information from U.S. troops and their families. Lives should not be risked and wasted for nothing.
The second amazing development of the past week was the praise being bestowed on the late North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il, by the Number 3 person at the State Department Wendy Sherman. Her gushing comments about this ruthless and unmerciful thug are an insult to all North Koreans who have suffered, been tortured and been killed under his rule. Her statements can be found in the National Public Radio (NPR) obituary for Kim Jung Il, in New York Times articles and in a story last week by the Weekly Standard. Secretary Sherman said: “He (Kim Jung Il) was smart and a quick problem solver,” and he was “witty and humorous.”
A few points need to be made about Secretary Sherman’s amateur observations. Wendy Sherman is a political appointee and former campaign official with a degree is social work. Her resume is “lite” on foreign and defense policy. Her official State Department biography does not list any language expertise. It is incredible that such a person could win Senate confirmation to such a critical position, but the Senate process has long ceased to be about having the most qualified people in government. Nominations are more or less rubber-stamped.
As a side note, when Secretary Sherman claims that Kim Jong Il was “witty and humorous,” it is just as likely that the wit was coming from the interpreter, with Secretary Sherman oblivious regarding the distinction.
What is outrageous is that Secretary Sherman never refers to the
North Korean concentration camps that Kim Jong Il operated and she apparently never raised the issue of human rights with her friend, the Great Leader, when she was in North Korea. On August 16, 2009, then Ms. Sherman also forgot to mention the death camps when she authored an article for the Korea Times about North Korea entitled “Not a Choice.”
Under the assumption that Secretary Sherman does not know about the camps, here is a summary:
North Korea is believed to operate six concentration camps, which in Korean are known as “kwan-li-so” which means control or holding centers.
Camp 14 is believed to house 15,000 prisoners
Camp 15 is believed to house 46,000 prisoners
Camp 16 is believed to house 10,000 prisoners
Camp 18 is believed to house 50,000 prisoners
Camp 22 is believed to house 50,000 prisoners
Camp 25 is believed to house 3,000 prisoners
The U.S. State Department’s official position is that it is willing to embrace North Korea and welcome it back into the world if it abandons its nuclear weapons program. Apparently North Korea can maintain and even expand its death camps as they are not on the negotiation table. To Secretary Clinton and Secretary Sherman, this is not an ethical foreign policy.
The Obama Administration seems content to abandon the North Korean people in these death camps and to eventually abandon the Afghan people to the Taliban. Perhaps in 2012, the bizarro foreign policy of the United States will end and adult supervision will return. These are not policies that anyone should be proud of.