NEW YORK — James Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence for Barack Obama, has been making the rounds in the news media downplaying the prospect of President Donald Trump achieving a breakthrough in nuclear talks with North Korea.
Clapper left out how in his own recently published book, he admitted the Obama administration’s military campaign that brought about the downfall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi likely served as a lesson for Iran and North Korea not to give up their own nuclear programs. Gaddafi in 2003 voluntarily agreed to give up his decades-old nuclear weapons program and opened the country to nuclear inspectors.
“I personally don’t believe the North Koreans have long term any intent to denuclearize,” Clapper said on CNN when asked about Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un. “Why should they? It’s their ticket to survival, and they’re just not going to do that.”
Clapper made similar remarks to NPR, lecturing: “Demanding that the North Koreans give up what they consider is fundamental to their national survival has not proven real profitable, if you will, for this administration or previous administrations. So perhaps another approach might be in order.”
In his book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, Clapper explains the Obama administration’s actions to depose Gaddafi as part of the so-called Arab Spring and despite the Libyan strongman’s disarmament may have hardened the positions of Iran and North Korea, making those countries less likely to agree to nuclear disarmament.
Clapper wrote (emphasis added):
As someone whose fingerprints were on the faulty National Intelligence Estimate that led the United States to invade Iraq, I certainly knew we were fallible, and as someone who’d helped fight the forces of chaos unleashed after we’d removed Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi from power, I was well aware that the actions we took from initial good intentions could have horrific unintended consequences.
Nine days after the hearing, with a UN resolution in hand, the US military began taking out Libyan air defenses, first with cruise missiles, and then with escorted bombing runs. With help from the British, French, and Canadian air forces, and drawing on targets identified by multinational intelligence efforts, the US military established a safe no-fly zone in four days and turned the mission over to NATO control. Gaddafi pleaded for the United States and then NATO to stop the attacks, citing his cooperation with weapons inspectors, his voluntary disarmament of his nuclear program, and his restraint from using chemical weapons in his current civil struggle. It was far too late, and no one in the West paid attention. However, I believe North Korea and Iran took careful note of what happens when you give up your nuclear program, and Bashar al-Assad in Syria saw what happens to dictators who show restraint.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.