Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Time to Strike North Korea is Now

Once again, the Fox News All-Stars betrayed their fundamental ignorance and cowardice on Friday night. In response to Jim Angle’s question about what to do with North Korea and Iran and their nuclear weapons, all three pundits threw up their hands. The ignorant included the normally astute Bill Sammons, and especially disappointingly, Charles Krauthammer. The liberal 1/3 of the all-stars was one of the clueless-on-everything women they trot out there so her lack of acumen on this subject is unremarkable. Her money quote last night: “Kim Jong Il is not wacky, he is a wack-a-doodle!”

But the issue is not really about the inability of “inside-the-Beltway” types to think creatively about a troubling problem. After all, these guys did not get to where they are by offering observations that are outside the boundaries of what their friends and bosses would think reasonable. So what you get from the “All Stars” on issues like Iran/North Korea nukes is little better than uniformed blather that the timid would find acceptable.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, there ARE military options for dealing with North Korea and Iran. With Iran, the course of action I would advocate is a blockade to stifle oil production and force a crisis that would lead to regime change. For North Korea, the one option we have is increasingly clear. The National Command Authority of North Korea must be destroyed for three reasons. The North Korean leadership must be destroyed to prevent them from either 1) blackmailing the US by threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon, 2) actually detonating a nuclear weapon and 3) to forestall Taiwan and Japan from arming with nuclear weapons to counter North Korea’s threat.

The type of blackmail I am talking about would entail North Korea threatening to detonate a secreted nuclear weapon unless America grants NK some demand, probably on the order of pulling our military forces out of Korea and Japan. Such a demand would force President Bush into an untenable position; either he keeps the forces in place and risks losing an American city, removes the forces and making America susceptible to future blackmail or he can strike North Korea in retaliation.

North Korea might instead opt to pre-emptively strike one of their historical enemies, the US or Japan. There is a school of thought in intelligence circles that Kim Jong Il is truly mentally ill and might be capable of doing something completely irrational. Shooting a nuclear weapon at another country without warning would be irrational UNLESS China could be counted on to assure the destruction of whosoever would retaliate. With the tacit or explicit support of China, pre-emptive attack on Japan or the US would be a marker thrown down by China and North Korea jointly that THEY were the new world power, and would not hesitate to act as ruthlessly as possible to consolidate their power. North Korea detonating a nuclear weapon would have three immediate benefits for North Korea and China. 1) Japan would be intimidated into recognizing China’s supremacy in the region. 2) Taiwan would immediately be pulled back into China’s orbit. 3) America would be forced to withdraw from the region, ceding the Western Pacific and East Asia to China. Such an outcome would not be the result of mental defect, but of ruthlessness.

More conventional balance of power theory would indicate that once a smaller power, such as North Korea, acquires nuclear weapons, then other small powers in the region would be compelled to arm themselves in self defense thereby restoring the balance of power. These days, those who fancy themselves as practitioners of real-politik advocate that America arm Taiwan and Japan with intermediate range nuclear weapons just as President Reagan sent Pershing missiles to Europe in the mid-80’s. There is a problem with this calculus. The situation in NE Asia is unprecedented. The historical animus among these minor powers, combined with heightened tensions which would naturally follow in a period of widespread nuclear proliferation combined with an increased opportunity for stand off attacks is unprecedented. Balance of power theory assumes that national leaders will act in their own best interest. The situation in Northeast Asia, with five powers, all armed with nuclear weapons, all with interest vectors that are not perfectly aligned or in opposition, would be unprecedented and uniquely dangerous. Ethnic, and racial hatred, lust for regional and worldwide hegemony result in the LIKELIHOOD that nuclear weapons will be used, once these weapons are in everyone’s hands.

President Bush has one course of action that could prevent all these possibilities. He could neutralize North Korean aggression, keep Taiwan and Japan from going nuclear, maintain American presence in East Asia, and keep America as the pre-eminent power in the region. America must strike North Korea without warning, and to destroy their national command structure. Destroying the ruthless, aggressive criminal North Korean regime would teach anyone else who would contemplate proliferation.