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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Jul 22, 2003.
Read the rest of this sobering discussion from the NewsHour.
Re: Isn't this the real threat to national security?
Just goes to show what the real motivations behind Iraq must have been.
The oil and the middle east is more important than a dangerous dictatorship that really does have WOMD capability.
Must have filed N Korea in the "to hard" bin, or perhaps the "no oil" basket.
I'm not quite that cynical, but I do believe the administration did/does desire to make the US the undisputed major player in the Middle East, for all that this implies, and Iraq seemed to be the low-hanging fruit. North Korea, OTOH, is a very tough customer. It's almost impossible for the US to walk away from any encounter with the North Koreans with anything to show for it but possibly a continuation of the status quo. That would actually be an important victory for national (and world) security, but I don't think that's the kind of victory this administration likes.
It's also worth noting how the Iraq adventure has tied the United State's hands in dealing with the North Koreans. Not only is the US distracted by Iraq, most of the nation's military power is committed indefinitely to the Middle East. It will be far more difficult for the US to credibly use the threat of military force, as the Clinton administration evidently did, as a backdrop to any negotiation. Based on the timing of the North Korean moves, I'd have to say they understand this situation quite well and are prepared to use it to their best advantage.
It is also worth noting that this North Korean mess is the direct result of a "diplomatic" solution that was put in place in the 1990s. The same type of solution, BTW, that some have advocated for Iraq. At the time, there was a military force option on the table, and it was seriously considered at the highest levels, but the commander-in-chief at the time did not pull the trigger and instead we ended up selling North Korea other nuclear reactors and giving them oil in an effort to delay their progress on nuclear arms. Like the problem of bin Laden, who struck the US homeland first in 1993, North Korea is a problem delayed. We will never know the the US made the right decision in the early 1990s in dealing with North Korea, but we do know that the decision has resulted in a very serious problem for the new century.
In the meantime, the US military is quite capable of striking North Korea's nuclear production facilities. Iraq hasn't tied the US hands in North Korea except for the possibility of a full scale invasoin. However, there's a serious question as to whether that would be a good thing to do. Imagine the radiation fallout of striking a large nuclear facility.
Iraq and North Korea were filed in the "axis of evil" bin along with Iraq. North Korea was also filed in the "friend of China" basket and the "ain't got no money" basket. Iraq was also filed in the "friend of France" basket, so it was easier to deal with Iraq! The motivation in going into Iraq is to entirely reshape the political reality of the middle east by removing a very destabilizing and dangerous element. There isn't a really good cause to search for hidden motives when the given motives are clearly laid out and quite reasonable, whether one happens to agree with the policy or not. As Freud once famously said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!"
macfan -- what should be done w/ north korea?
Good question. You don't want North Korea lobbing nukes into Japan or selling them to anyone else and you've got a pretty crazy guy in charge. If he didn't have nukes and didn't have China sitting next door with an alliance or sorts, it would be a worthwhile policy to bring down his government by covert means or even an internationally sponsored military action. However, that's not possible here. Somehow, I think you've got to involve China very heavily to pressure North Korea to abandon it's nuclear ambitions. Eventually, it may require some kind of force, but it might be too late for that already. It would have been easier to use airstrikes back in the 1990s, but it's hard to tell if that would have worked well even then. Now, it is a much greater risk. Longterm policy needs to be the collapse or the government of North Korea and reunification with South Korea. How to do this? That's above my pay grade, as the saying goes. Isolation? Engagement? Covert operations to instigate a coup? Who knows what the best solution is? Once it happens, however, will require an immense amount of money once reunification takes place because the economy of North Korea is virtually nil, while the South is a modern, prosperous, industial country. What would you do?
This is a bogus analysis. First, the US never did give North Korea those light water reactors, though that was part of the deal for them to give up their nuclear weapons programs. The "mess" as you call it was extant before the 1990s, and probably will remain a "mess" not of anyone's specific creation, but by virtue of a situation within North Korea over which the US has only very limited influence and no control. The goal of US policy was to prevent or at least forestall the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As I said before, in diplomacy sometimes a status quo result is a victory, and that's precisely what we had until the "Axis of Evil" speech and the intense focus on Iraq. This opened up an opportunity for the North Koreans, and they took it.
Second the difficulties inherent with taking military action against North Korea are much more complex then the potential for nuclear fallout, which I'm sure you know. Any air-strike against North Korea's nuclear facilities runs the very great risk of starting a massive land-war, which we are now totally unprepared to fight. The North Koreans know this. The timing of their recent moves are not mere coincidence.
i have no great ideas. i pretty much agree w/ your assessment, though i don't think our relations w/ china are sufficient to get them to lean on n. korea enough.
as was mentioned, an airstrike would probably rekindle the war. nk already has missiles (nuclear?) that can reach seoul, and i've read that 1 million nk soldiers could invade seoul w/in hours.
best bet, imo, is a massive diplomatic effort (involving china), initially offering a carrot instead of a stick. not sure how effective that would be, as i do think Kim Jong II is more or less nuts. though i'm not a fan of assassination, i wouldn't be too horribly upset if, say, a piano fell on his head.
it seems that war involving nk (but not necessarily w/ the US) is nearly inevitable. would there be a nuke used? probably. that's why i think this situation is SO much more grave than what is or was going on in iraq.
no easy answers here.
The analysis isn't bogus at all. If Saddam hadn't invaded Kuwait, or is we had used a diplomatic solution there, he would be sitting in the middle of the region with a huge army and nuclear weapons to boot. Whether we could have stopped North Korea back then with a few well place bombs we will never know. Again, I don't know if the policy back in the early 1990s was a good one, but we do know that it delayed a confrontation and made it more dangerous.
That is simply false. North Korea, by its own admission, continued with its nuclear program throughtout the 1990s, in spite of the agreement not to do so. This had nothing to do with Bush's Axis of Evil speech. Since the North Korean ongoing nuclear program predated the speech, the latter could not have been the causal agent for the former. We only had the status quo if you consider sending oil and aid to North Korea while they continued to develop their nuclear weapons to be the status quo. They kept on with their development, and we started sending them oil. Only now are we backing out of the light water reactor deal.
As you note, I am well aware of the potential difficulties of military action in Korea. This is just one of the things that points out that the argument "why are we in Iraq when North Korea is more dangerous" wasn't very compelling before the war, and it isn't very compelling now.
This, as they say is the crux.
The international community may have kvetched in public, but privately, they're glad to have it gone. Also remember the UN Resolution, which outlines punishment, was violated - this fact was not only not debated, but ratified with the new resolution last fall (1442?).
Secondly, Saddam spend many years alienating himself from the rest of the Middle East states, and those states were also privately happy to see him go.
North Korea presents problems on both these points. One, North Korea is still considered a part of the Asian community, even if they have peeved their neighbors every now and then. But they haven't out-and-out alienated them. So a war would be region-inciting.
And two, there is no North Korea specific UN resolution - and punishment therof - that has been violated. (yes, the UN monitoring was violated, but it was toothless)
Going to war with North Korea will have to be justified the old fasioned way - not through looking at the books, pointing to it, and saying "Ah HA! We can invade now."
Kim Jong IL knows this, and is pushing as hard as he know he can get away with. He's not looking for a fight, and knows that as soon as he starts one, all bets are off.
An additional item with that is G.W. knows Kim knows this and how smart Kim is, and is not as worried. Saddam was documented as self-delusional and a real loose cannon therefore very worrisome as a result.
That's a third difference. Don't worry as much about the noisemaker, worry about the nut.
Just curious, who would support going to war with North Korea to overthrow their government?
depends on the circumstances. should there be a true coalition applying pressure (and having the chinese there would make huge difference), i'd probably support it.
... and.... try diplomacy first.
Depends on the circumstances. Under certain conditions, yes.
When it comes to Evil Dictators Kim Jong Il has to be the smartest yet! He realizes that as long as he has nukes the rest of the world really can't do anything against him in terms of military action. North Korea has they capability to wipe South Korea off the map if any kind of military action is launched against him. Unfortunantly if North Korea really does have at least 2 nukes(which they probably do) they could if thier smart luanch one against South Korea and the other against Japan they have the capability to destabalize the entire world enconomy. Even if thier missiles are primitave they could easily make a rough shot at Tokoyo which could destory much of the worlds economy.
Any military action would be foolhardy, the time for that is long gone, we must continue to apply diplomatic pressure against them. It may not be the best way but we have few other choices in this situation think it over for a few minutes.
Our new policy of preemptive action against future potential blackmailing by hostile nations ensured that any nation that might find itself under our scrutiny would hurry along to make sure they could blackmail us out of any such action against them.
A self-fulfilling prophesy.
Except that North Korea was building these bombs while Bush was governor of Texas and no one was talking about preemption.
Assassinate him, and make it very clear to his successors that if they try anything Pyongyang will become a smoking crater.
Also, it's been a while since I've checked, but I'm pretty sure a state of war exists between the UN and the DPRK right now; one of the technicalities of the resolutions they violated restarted the Korean War.
Didn't congress make assassination of particularly naughty foreigners legal, a few years ago?
Such is the cult of the leadership over there that getting rid of him might cause the total collapse of the whole system.
Does he have any sons?
What are we going to do, conquer the half the world and assasinate the rest? All this in the name of liberty. All this killing in other countries so we "feel" more secure.
I am making no remarks on the specifics of North Korea. Rather, this constant rush to assasination and war seems foolish. It seems we have no faith in politics or the humaness of diplomacy. I think the collapse of politics within the US is the measure of the way we now choose war over negotiation outside of the US.
I very much doubt China wants any escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula either, nor a nuclear NK either. It wants the status quo as the collapse of the NK dictatorship would lead to a lot of refugees crossing the border into China. China doesn't care what other stuff NK gets up to but it definately doesn't want any hostilities to break out.
I reckon China will prove the key player. There's not actually much the US can do without get South Korea fried. Even without nukes North Korea could flatten Seoul with artilery.
Actually, If you wanted to stay technical, the Koren War never ended - it's still on. Just a really long cease fire.
And absolutely caveman_uk, China is key to this whole thing.
Possibly, but quite an irrelevant hypothetical, given that my point is we have fewer options today for dealing with the North Koreans today then we did a year ago, and the North Koreans know it. That is why they are prepared to kick their fissile materials production program into high gear now, and were not ten, or even one, year ago. Everything has opportunity costs associated with it -- choosing to do one thing reduces the opportunity to do another. My point being that the opportunity costs associated with the Iraq adventure are very large, and the increasingly dangerous situation in Korea is one of consequences.