Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2002 / 24 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763
Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
The 1994 Framework Agreement is the rankest form of appeasement in which the United States has so far engaged. In it we, the Japanese and the South Koreans promised the North Koreans that if they halted their nuclear weapons program, we'd build for them two nuclear power reactors. While they were being built, we'd supply North Korea with food and fuel oil. As a result, we became the principal supplier of foreign assistance to the most repressive dictatorship on earth.
North Korea's perfidy reminded us of a truth of which we ought not to have needed reminding: Vicious mass murderers tend to be liars, too.
North Korea was imploding fast in the mid-1990s. Had we not provided the massive aid we did, this vile regime probably would have collapsed. Preventing a North Korean collapse was a subsidiary goal of the Framework Agreement. South Korea was worried about having to deal with a flood of starving refugees, and understandably jittery that a North Korean regime on the brink of extinction might choose to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
A second Korean War in 1994 would have been a very bad thing. But North Korea in 1994 didn't have nuclear weapons, or a means of delivering them beyond the Korean peninsula. North Korea today has at least two nukes, and a ballistic missile that may be able to reach the West Coast of the United States. Dealing with a murderous dictator is like dealing with an infection. Neglect doesn't make the problem go away.
North Korea's perfidy is another powerful reason for concluding our business with Iraq as soon as we reasonably can. What was surprising was not that North Korea was cheating. The CIA said it was in an unclassified report last year, which was widely ignored by the news media. What was surprising was how brazenly they admitted it. Perhaps they think they can get away with more when our attention is focused on Iraq. China may also figure this is a convenient time to rattle the saber at Taiwan.
The antiwar left, grasping at straws, is attempting to use North Korea's deceit as an argument against President Bush's policy toward Iraq. How can Bush justify his concern about Saddam's pursuit of nuclear weapons when North Korea is cheating too?
The answers are simple. One war at a time. The most dangerous enemy first. There were no North Koreans among the hijackers on Sept. 11. It wasn't North Korea that tried to assassinate the first President Bush in Kuwait in 1993, or was implicated in the first World Trade Center bombing later that year. North Korea isn't providing shelter to al-Qaida terrorists, or financing suicide bombers in Israel. And it isn't North Korea that's in violation of 14 U.N. resolutions.
Saddam's goal is to control the oil resources of the Persian Gulf, which would give him a stranglehold on the world's economy. North Korea's imperial ambitions don't extend beyond the Korean peninsula. And South Korea is in a far better position to defend herself than are Iraq's Arab neighbors.
North Korea wants nuclear weapons chiefly to deter us from intervening vigorously in a possible future war between North and South Korea. A policy of deterrence is more likely to work -- or, more accurately, is less likely to fail -- against North Korea than against Iraq, where Saddam already has used weapons of mass destruction, against Iran and against his own people.
We must stop all assistance save food aid to North Korea, and put conditions on that. And we should seek to have the United Nations impose economic sanctions on the outlaw regime.
But the best way to make North Korea's leaders more cautious and cooperative is to destroy Saddam and his regime. That would make it clear there are consequences for defying the United States. And the faster we dispose of Saddam, the less likely it is that we will face war on two fronts.
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© 2002, Jack Kelly