The Bush administration's internecine squabbles over Iraq policy have gotten a lot of press, but no issue has divided its foreign policy team more than North Korea. For two years, engagers (who generally favor using diplomacy to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program) and hawks (who are suspicious of negotiations and believe rewarding North Korean leader Kim Jong Il could encourage other proliferators) were unable to resolve their differences. "It's as stark as stark could be--we weren't even on the same page," says one American official.
Over the past several weeks, a parade of foreign policy experts, touting a pile of recently published “blue-ribbon” think-tank reports, has taken to the airwaves in full cry against the Bush administration’s policy toward North Korea. Or, more precisely, the absence of a Bush administration policy toward North Korea. According to these critics, the feuds between the Defense and State Departments that hobble so much else have virtually paralyzed U.S. policy toward the Hermit Kingdom.