Jeffrey LewisOn Bilateral v. Multilateral talks with North Korea

The wierdest moment of the Presidential debate was the candidates getting wonky over the merits of bilateral vs. multilateral negotiations. I was going to do my best to explain the difference, but Peter Scoblic beat me to it with an op-ed, “Why N. Korea Talks Matter So Much,” in the Los Angeles Times.

Long-story short: Multilateral negotiations are a fig leaf for the President/’s indecisiveness on North Korea. As Peter notes, when “relations with Pyongyang started to unravel two years ago,” “Bush’s priority was to avoid doing anything Clinton-like.” Peter argues that the “obsessive Clinton avoidance” directly led to North Korea reprocessing more than the 8,000 fuel rods, “a policy failure of enormous proportions.”