Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2003 / 4 Shevat, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Another Korean war?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | There very well may be another Korean war. But there is no longer a compelling reason for the United States to get involved in it.

North Korea has been rattling the nuclear saber, threatening to "destroy the earth" if the United States does not do what it wants. U.S. intelligence agencies estimate North Korea already has two nuclear bombs, a number which could grow by leaps and bounds now that North Korea has removed the seals from and disabled UN monitoring cameras at the Yongbyon nuclear plant, which is capable of extracting weapons grade plutonium from spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. If North Korea reactivates the plant, it could produce enough plutonium to build as many as 100 bombs within a year.

North Korea also has tested successfully an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the West Coast of the United States.

North Korea's action violates not only the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty of which it is a signatory, but also a 1994 treaty with South Korea, the United States and Japan in which the three nations agreed to build for North Korea two non-threatening nuclear power plants if it would forego its weapons development program.

The ability of the United States to respond to the burgeoning crisis is hampered by politics in South Korea. South Korea just had a presidential election, between the South Korean equivalent of George McGovern and the South Korean equivalent of Barry Goldwater. Roh Moo-hyun (McGovern) won narrowly. Roh is committed to expanding the "sunshine" policy of his predecessor. After disclosure of North Korea's perfidy, Roh had harsher words to say about the United States than about North Korea.

We cannot defend South Korea if the South Koreans are unwilling to defend themselves. And it is no longer important that we try. When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, we had two powerful reasons for coming to South Korea's defense:

North Korea was then part of an international communist conspiracy directed by the Soviet Union. Had South Korea fallen, the Korean peninsula almost certainly would have been a jumping off point for aggression against Japan. And South Korea in 1950 was a poor country with a weak military. South Korea was incapable of defending herself.

Communism is no longer a global threat. North Korea's ambitions are pretty much restricted to conquest of South Korea, which would be a bad thing for South Koreans, but less than a catastrophe for the rest of the world.

And South Korea today has twice the population and ten times the economic strength of North Korea, and a military nearly as large and more technologically sophisticated. South Korea is capable of defending herself. We need to separate out what our interests are in the current crisis from those of South Korea.

Roh says he wants to re-examine the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea. We should beat him to the punch and begin to withdraw them. That will diminish anti-American sentiment in South Korea, remove a potential target for North Korean nukes, and perhaps cause Roh to rethink his anti-Americanism.

The odds that North Korea would attack the U.S. proper with nuclear weapons directly are infinitesimally small. The saber-rattlers in Pyongyong know the result of that would be to turn North Korea into a pile of irradiated rubble.

The great danger is that North Korea will sell its nuclear materials and weapons technologies to others who would be less reluctant to use them. On this we must be firm.

We can contain North Korea, but only with international help. The key to obtaining it is to remind people that North Korea is a problem for the world, not just for the United States. When North Korea removed the seals from the Yongbyon reactor, it was thumbing its nose at the United Nations. And South Korea has more to lose from North Korean belligerency than we do. We must not permit this to become primarily a U.S.-North Korea confrontation.

While we work through diplomatic channels, we need to reduce our susceptibility to North Korean nuclear blackmail. The president's decision to accelerate deployment of a national ballistic missile defense is a firm step in the right direction.

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01/02/03: Ostriches
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12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
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11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
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09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
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09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
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09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
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08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
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07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
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07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
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06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
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05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
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05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
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04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly