Should we take out North Korea?

A right-wing commentator makes a somber argument for going to war with North Korea, and then going after Iran.

Today, while our forces are engaged in a major open-ended operation in Iraq, a minor open-ended operation in Afghanistan, and a global war against al Qaeda, we are quietly sliding into the gravest crisis of this kind since Nikita Khrushchev placed nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba.

Two crazy states–both charter members of what President Bush has rightly called the “axis of evil,” both openly flouting an international treaty to which they are party, both perpetrators of acts of international terrorism, both animated by a blistering hatred for America and the West–are bent on acquiring weapons of unthinkable destructive power.

The CIA, as it admits in its own statements, does not know what it needs to know about either country, except that North Korea almost certainly possesses two or more fully operational bombs and could have as many as ten within months, while Iran is at most several years away from acquiring the bomb unless it purchases one or more tomorrow or next week or next month from Pyongyang.

Whatever the constraints on our resources, the challenge is unmistakable and cannot be dodged. The price of action is likely to be high, very high; the price of inaction is likely to be much higher. Courtesy of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, we have already had to relearn the lesson of Pearl Harbor in a second and more terrible form. In the age of terrorism and nuclear weapons, we cannot afford to relearn it a third time and a fourth.

Sounds great. Only problem is, we are already stretched to the breaking point with Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone the ongoing “war on terror.” And there just isn’t enough proof of a threat to justify war on this scale. After Iraq, Bush is going to have a much harder time selling pre-emptive wars to the public and the world.

Other questions that come to mind: How will we pay for it? Where will the manpower come from? Who will we replace the tyrants with? Are we willing to see thousands and thousands of US soldiers (and South Korean citizens) die in a pre-emptive war of this scale? What do we do with a liberated North Korea? (Just feeding the country would empty Fort Knox.)

I’d love to see North Korea taken down. But after seeing how our experiments in regime change are going elsewhere, I’d have to say it is simply not an option. At least not now.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

In my mind Iran is much less of a problem than NK. Remove the coating of clerical councils that can veto things at every level of the Islamic Republic in Iran, and you’ve actually got a representative democracy.
Hell if they pulled an Ortega and gracefully exited the stage, taking their attendant jihadist rhetoric with them, we’d probably even let them keep the Persian Bomb!

NK is a horse of a different color, there’re no kids having webcam/chat connected parties up in the Communist Utopia of the Dear Leader, no democracy with training wheels, no tradition of free inquiry, all of which you DO have in Iran.

And on top of the difficulties you list in taking out NK, how would one do it without devastating Seoul, which would be a major hit on the world economy.

Pakistan actually strikes me as a much worse threat than Iran, if one is going to freak out over these things!

October 23, 2003 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

Agreed — Iran is no North Korea. And there are signs that it’s slowly getting better (make that very slowly). Pakistan is an anomaly. They are the most likely source of nuclear prolifteration to terrorists. Yet, since they cozied up to us after 911, it’s as though we are totally blind to the threat they represent.

October 24, 2003 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Yes, the “Realpolitik as usual” with Pak annoys the hell out of me.

If the US were an actual, competant Empire, we would now put Pak in the vice between Afghanistan and India.

But that would almost kinda make sense.

October 24, 2003 @ 4:50 am | Comment ali.i like peking duck

January 6, 2004 @ 12:35 am | Comment

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