Blogs > Cliopatria > North Korea

Feb 11, 2005 2:56 pm

North Korea

The latest news about North Korea--that it possesses nuke weapons and doesn't want to engage in multi-lateral talks about them--is further evidence of the most serious drawback of the Iraq war.

The war taught one lesson to dictators: if you want to save your regime, stockpile nuclear weapons. Those with such weapons won't be attacked. Those without, may be.

Such a lesson!

No matter what happens in Iraq, if this lesson stands the war will have been a disaster for this country.

So the Bush administration faces 2 great challenges in the next 2 years.

1. Fix Iraq.
2. Figure out a way to teach a new lesson: that a rogue country which chooses to pursue the accumulation of nuclear weapons faces serious consequences.

Oh and yes there's still that other problem: Terrorism.

Unfortunately, the administration's bungling in Iraq has made solving that problem even harder.

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Oscar Chamberlain - 2/16/2005

Rick, I think you make a good point. However, I'm not sure that this was a situation that Bush could make work, nor that the elder Bush or Clinton could have made much better.

Israel got away with knocking our the nuclear complex Saddam Hussein was building in Iraq because there was no fissionable material in place and the Arab nations did not like Israel anyway.

The only time we could have attacked North Korea's installations before they had nuclear material in them was either in the elder Bush's administration or in Clinton's first term. Even then, an attack would have seriously damaged our relations with South Korea, China, and probably Japan.

Once fissionable material was in place, splattering a facility to hell and gone would have had a disastrous worldwide impact on the US, even if we had managed to avoid polluting the surrounding area with radioactive material.

By the mid-1990s, Korea had become, as one person put it, "the land of lousy options." A newly democratic South Korea opposed any serious threats against the North. China was only willing to help in supporting positive incentives to the North to aviod production. The Clinton administration gave it try.

There is little evidence that this worked for long, if at all. Bush's shrill rheotric early in his administration did nothing to help us with our regional allies, but I don't know that it hurt matters a lot.

I do agree that whatever hesitancy there might have been in the mind of North Korea's leaders in developing and making public weapons would have evaporated in watching our attack or Iraq.

HNN - 2/12/2005

Ah, but we knew he didn't have nuclear weapons.

That made all the difference in the world.

One reason for invading Iraq in 2003 was that we worried that if we let Saddam remain in power he might develop nuke weapons in--what did officials say?--five years.

So we had to attack in 2003 because later we would not be able to attack.

Once a country posseses nukes it is hard to justify an attack. The consequences are too grave.

Would you as president be willing to order an attack on a country with nukes?

Stephen Tootle - 2/12/2005

One of the reasons we attacked Iraq was the fact that we thought he had WMD (including possibly nuclear weapons). Any dictator that drew the lesson that possessing WMD would prevent an attack would be drawing a funny lesson.