Many of the same people on the left who snickered when Bush included North Korea in the ‘Axis of Evil’ are now frantic about the threat that North Korea presents, or at least they’re pretending to be. So they’re demanding that Bush forget all about that “Iraq thing” and focus all of his energy on the real threat, North Korea. In fact, they’re claiming that they just can’t understand why we’re threatening Iraq while we’re dealing with North Korea diplomatically. But as per usual, the anti-war left’s arguments are intellectually dishonest and fall apart once they’re exposed to the slightest amount of informed scrutiny. Maybe we’re not treating North Korea and Iraq exactly alike because — are you ready for this one — the situation isn’t the same. Asking why we’re going to invade Iraq and not North Korea is like asking why we cooperated with the Soviet Union while we nuked Japan in WW2 or even why we bombed Libya in the eighties instead of our neighbors to the North in Canada. In short, it’s the sort of question only the intellectually dishonest or those who don’t understand the situation would ask. Unfortunately, neither intellectual dishonesty nor ignorance are in short supply in the anti-war movement. So let me explain why we’ll probably be sending Saddam a box of chocolates strapped to a smart bomb on Valentine’s Day while we simultaneously have heart to heart talks with the fruit loops in Pyongyang.
To begin with, everything we’ve tried since the Gulf War to get Saddam under control has failed. Inspections failed, sanctions failed, encouraging internal coups failed; in essence, we accomplished nothing. Meanwhile, we had to keep troops in Saudi Arabia (which Al-Queda used as a recruiting tool) to keep Saddam pinned at home where he deliberately starved his own people to death and blamed us for it. Then, after more than a decade of fruitless attempts to find a solution short of war, 9/11 happened. Suddenly, Conservatives were able to figure out three things that now seem patently obvious.
1) We’ve got to do whatever it takes to prevent more 9/11s from happening.
2) The only real chance we have of preventing other 9/11s from happening is to destroy all the terrorist groups of global reach.
3) Destroying all the terrorist groups with global reach is impossible if there are rogue states that are willing to support them.
Within ten days of 9/11, I understood this,
“If we do not have the resolve to eradicate these terrorists and the nations that continue to support them now, then when?” – John Hawkins, Sept 16, 2001
Dick Cheney also immediately figured this out,
“They have to understand, and others like them around the world have to understand, that if you provided sanctuary to terrorists, you face the full wrath of the United States.” – Dick Cheney
George Bush even talked about it in his big speech nine days after 9/11,
“And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” – George W. Bush
Yet more than 15 months after 9/11, the anti-war left still doesn’t get this. It’s apparently something they are fundamentally unable to grasp, like a fish looking at a bicycle. But, if your goal is to destroy the global terrorist network, Iraq is the perfect place to start. Unlike Iran, Syria, or North Korea, we’ll be able to get UN support for an invasion of Iraq. While militarily, the UN is worse than useless, having them on board does give some public relations cover to us and our reluctant allies abroad. Moreover, there are so many advantages we’ll gain by hitting Iraq first. We’ll have a base we can use to launch attacks against Iran or Syria if we so desire, we’ll be able to move our troops out of Saudi Arabia which will give Al-Queda one less recruiting tool, nobody is going to miss Saddam after he’s gone, and by simply helping Iraq get their oil production up to capacity and by buying oil from them, we can put enormous pressure on Saudi Arabia to crackdown on pro-terrorist elements in their country.
Then there’s North Korea, home to that belligerent little nut, Kim Jung-il. To begin with, going to war with North Korea would be much more damaging and dangerous than going to war with Saddam. Under the best conditions, it would take longer, we’d lose significantly more men, and our allies in South Korea would take tens of thousands of casualties and would sustain billions of dollars worth of damage. In a worst case scenario, Kim Jung-il could cause massive American casualties by nuking our troops and we would probably respond by turning North Korea into a sheet of glass.
Therefore, knocking heads with North Korea is highly undesirable. But fortunately, negotiations with North Korea have a real chance of succeeding. That’s because North Korea desperately needs the supplies they get from the US, South Korea, and China to keep the lights on and to keep their people eating. Of course, we control what we send North Korea and we have a lot of influence over our allies in South Korea who depend on us to defend them from the North.
Now it may be more difficult to bring China on board, but the last thing they want is for this whole situation to escalate. From China’s perspective, there are a lot of things that could go wrong if this situation were to continue to deteriorate: the economy of their 6th largest trading partner (South Korea) could be ruined, American troops might be fighting in North Korea again, a nuclear exchange could occur on their border, their ancient enemies in Japan might decide to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent to North Korea, millions of refugees might stream into their country, and having an unbalanced dictator like Kim Jung-il right next door with a host of nukes would be disconcerting for any nation. Is China willing to risk those sorts of consequences just to see Kim Jung-il tweak the nose of the United States? I sincerely doubt it.
Now since the US, South Korea, and China are literally capable of shutting down North Korea’s meager economy and because most observers, including yours truly, think North Korea wants to negotiate, I expect this to be resolved peacefully. In the end, we’ll probably end up giving them about what we agreed to back in 1994, then Japan, China, and North Korea will up the ante a bit, and we’ll probably see a diplomatic solution that will satisfy everyone. By the way, we’re talking about a REAL diplomatic solution in North Korea, not a meaningless Clinton style resolution that actually does nothing but leave the problem for someone else to deal with on down the road.
So there’s your explanation of why Kim Jung-il will probably be dining on caviar long after Saddam Hussein is toast. It should make sense to most people, other than the anti-war lefties who’re too busy screaming, “war for oil”, “US imperialism”, or whatever else is fashionable for uninformed people to babble about when they don’t understand foreign policy.