I won’t lie – I was a Deaniac in 2004. And you know what? Dean would have been the right choice to lead our country in the 2004 election. Want some proof? Check out his 2003 speech about Iraq/North Korea, which has increased relevance after the news of North Korea’s nuclear weapons test.

Instead, we had a promising candidate sunk by the media’s bizzare response to a “rally the troops” speech, and the public’s willingness – hopefully waning – to swallow GOP propaganda, no questions asked. Read a portion of the speech after the jump.

We must remember, though, that Iraq is not the greatest danger we face today. Consider, to begin with, North Korea.

The Administration says it is wrong to draw a parallel between the situations in Iraq and North Korea, because those situations are quite different. I agree.

Iraq has let UN inspectors back in. North Korea has kicked them out.

Saddam Hussein does not have a clear path to acquiring nuclear weapons. North Korea may already have them – and is on a clear path to acquiring more.

Saddam Hussein has missiles that can go 40 miles farther than the 90-mile range allowed by the UN. North Korea has tested a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that might be able to reach California, Oregon, and Washington.

I marvel at the discipline of this Administration in sticking to its message – that Saddam is the greatest danger – regardless of world developments.

We have the most dangerous situation in East Asia in a decade – perhaps in five decades, and the Administration is treating it as a sideshow. The reason is that North Korea doesn’t fit into any of the Administration’s preconceived little boxes.

They haven’t wanted to talk to North Korea because a solution requires negotiation – and sitting at the bargaining table is something Bill Clinton used to do. They do not see themselves as negotiators; they see themselves as pre-emptors. But preemption on the Korean Peninsula is a much different proposition than it is in the Persian Gulf. . . .

In recent weeks, it has become clear that the North Koreans have broken the agreement. They have begun moving the fuel rods to a new location, and threatening to unseal them. They could also re-start their reactor and produce more and more plutonium.

Within months, North Korea could become a confirmed nuclear power. Unlike Iraq, it has an advanced missile program, which would make its possession of nuclear arms even more dangerous.

The Administration’s response to all this has been to say that “every option is on the table.” Now, I have been in public service for quite awhile, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. When government officials say, “every option is on the table,” it’s because they haven’t got a clue what they intend to do.

It would be unfair for me to suggest that negotiating with North Korea is a simple matter. By all accounts, it is extremely difficult. No one can guarantee a successful outcome. But you can guarantee failure if you do not even try. And this administration has not tried.

Instead of a serious policy, they have wasted time, alienated our allies and engaged in a pointless war of words with Pyongyang.

Even now, the Administration seems to want to avoid anything that would shift the world spotlight from the dangers of the Persian Gulf to the even greater perils of the Korean Peninsula.

I think we can do better. . . . You would not know it from the Administration’s approach, but time is not on our side. North Korea will be far easier to contend with as a threatening power than as a declared nuclear power.

Together with our allies, and others in the region, we should challenge Pyongyang to return the fuel rods to their previous location, and allow international authorities to inspect and re-seal them. North Korea must also continue its moratorium – secured by President Clinton, I might add – on tests of long-range missiles.

In return, the U.S. can pledge to take no military action against the North and agree to resume direct, high-level talks. Both sides should agree to maintain these pledges as long as talks are ongoing. The discussions should be wide-ranging and designed to give North Korea a chance to reduce its isolation and begin moving in the direction of a normal society. North Korea is a far greater danger to world peace than Iraq.

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