Saturday, October 11, 2008

Delisting North Korea

I know that many conservatives might think this is proof that the Bush Administration is kowtowing to North Korea:

The United States said on Saturday that it is striking North Korea from a terrorism blacklist as Washington worked furiously to salvage a historic nuclear disarmament deal.


Angry at Washington's refusal to delist it, Pyongyang in the last few weeks vowed to restart its Yongbyon nuclear reactor that it shut down under a landmark deal in 2007 and has taken tangible steps toward doing so.

I must admit that it does look like kowtowing. However, I think that there is a plausible explanation that does not involve the US kowtowing to North Korea. To understand that explanation, one must understand the American bureaucratic/civil servants culture

For those who are unaware, America has civil service laws that dictate how the President can hire and fire government employees. Additionally, pay raises are mostly proscribed by law. The President has little to no flexibility to hire or fire government employees. Additionally, the President has little ability to reward the most productive government employees with pay raises.

Consequently, the vast majority of civil servants do little to no work. Why should they? They can not be fired for lack productivity, and they are not going to be rewarded for being an extra productive worker. In fact, they will get their pay raise regardless of whether they are a productive employee or not. This creates an American civil servants culture of bureaucratic inertia where very little gets accomplished

Consequently, it is possible that the State Department through bureaucratic inertia was not as diligent in delisting North Korea from the terrorism watch list as it was supposed to do via the agreement. In response, North Korea lit a fire under the State Department's feet to get them moving. North Korea's actions appeared to have the desired result.