The defiant action of North Korea in testing a long-range missile with military applications last month, and its latest act of defiance in reportedly carrying out an underground nuclear test on May 25, can be attributed--at least partly, if not fully--to its conviction that it will have nothing to fear from the Obama administration for its acts of defiance.Although Raman concedes that North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test in 2006, he nevertheless argues that:
After Obama assumed office in January, whatever hesitation that existed in North Korea's policy-making circles regarding the likely response of U.S. administration has disappeared, and its leadership now feels it can defy the U.S. and the international community with impunity.Raman also complains that Obama, like President Carter, could create an image of the United States as "soft and confused" on foreign policy. Raman, however, fails to disclose the fact that North Korea's "missile program" began and grew substantially during the 1980s and 1990s, while presumably "tough and coherent" Republicans and a Democrat occupied the White House.
North Korea began flaunting its missile power long before Obama's presidency. In 2002, President Bush made his infamous speech that placed North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, on a list of nations constituting an "axis of evil." The next year, North Korea became the first country ever to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. North Korea previously announced its intent to withdraw from the pact during the Clinton administration, but shifted course following international diplomacy and pressure from nations, including the United States.
In 2006, four years after Bush's axis of evil declaration and after years of "strong" warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, North Korea tested a nuclear missile, provoking international outrage. That same year, Iran defied international pressure and stated that it would resume its uranium enrichment program and that it would discontinue voluntary measures that gave international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities.
Now, in 2009, North Korea has conducted additional missile testing. According to Raman this likely would not have happened if Obama were not soft on foreign policy and national security. Raman's argument, however, seems very "weak" on history and strong on partisanship.