Carol Platt Liebau: North Korean Threats

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

North Korean Threats

North Korea has apparently launched missiles one of which may have been a Taepodong 2, which has the potential to reach US shores with a light payload (there's no evidence that the US homeland was at all threatened).

The UN Security Council may meet tonight. Gee -- wonder why I don't feel optimistic about something meaningful getting done?

Interestingly, on CNN, Jack Cafferty has just come out strongly against Kim Jong Il. He notes that North Korea is "asking for trouble" and adds, "maybe it's time to give them some." Later, he points out that "repeated warnings . . . have fallen on deaf ears" and warns that "with every passing day, North Korea's nuclear weapons program gets bigger, not smaller . . ."

Cafferty winds up by pointing out that "the stronger they become, the more bellicose and belligerent that weird little dude who runs the country becomes. At what point does the rest of hte world say 'that's enough'?" And, of course, Cafferty mades the predictable Hitler analogy to reinforce his contention that North Korea should be stopped before the threat grows further.

If that's his reasoning, explain to me why Cafferty has been a harsh critic of the war in Iraq. What doesn't he get about the fact that, if we had left Saddam in power (and, in time, lifted the sanctions, as the French and Russians -- being bribed by Saddam -- were pushing for) we'd have the same situation, except in the Middle East? (And we thought that Saddam already had missiles like Kim Jong Il has).

Cafferty apparently wants us to go on the offensive with a country that, militarily, would be able to inflict a lot more pain on the US in war than Iraq could. And, apparently, it's only time to get tough after the threat has grown so much that nuclear blackmail by a rogue nation is a real possibility.


Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator.

Kim Jong Il is an incompetent idiot.

Comparing these two to Hitler is an insult to the millions who perished under the Fuehrer's rule.

Not to mention the inevitable problems with Godwin's law.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Carol fails to mention:

Bush is the president not Cafferty.

The Bush administration has refused any direct talks with North Korea since the day Bush took office.

Bush US foreign policy is to demand other nations do as he demands.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...

Carol writes: "...apparently, it's only time to get tough after the threat has grown so much that nuclear blackmail by a rogue nation is a real possibility."

...As opposed to Bush's idea of 'the time to get tough' which is when someone shoots at your daddy, regardless of their actual WMD capabilities or what settling this personal vendetta will cost -- in human lives, financially, and in terms of our global credibility.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Cavalor Epthith said...

North Korea has nuclear weapons, Iraq none.

North Korea has a massive standing army and formidable land fighting capabilities, Iraq limited as we saw.

North Korean people, would likely turn on their government as soon as they saw US GIs bringing them food and water, unlike Iraq where once Saddam was removed the nation fractured like post Tito Yugoslavia. both constructs of ignoring realpolitik in the name of political and economic expediencies.

North Korea's missiles could cause heavy casualties among the millions in Seoul not to mention the nearly 40,000 US soldiers in South Korea's kill zone near the border with the DPRK, Iraq had no such capability.

North Korea certainly, according to DoD and CIA reports well known in the intelligence community on Terra, has a "robust" chemical weapons program dating back to the 1950s revamped in the 1960s and beefed up by Kim Jong Il in the 1990s. Some sources place the tonnage at as high as 5,000. Iraq had some provided to it by American contractors via European firms for use on iranian troops in the American proxy war between Iraq and Iran. At the time of the most recent invasion of sovereign Iraq they had none and a very weak program to develop WMD.

Now a question for you Ms. Liebau:

What is the plan for Iraq? Okay so nobody "cuts and runs" what exactly is America trying to accomplish in a nation that only existed because a totalitarian strongman kept three nations together under one rule? The Iraqi knows nothing of "democracy" and the soil there in Baghdad is not very fertile for the type you have in America. Certainly, no government of Shi'ites close to Iran could be acceptable to the Bush Administration so does the US plan mean support for Sunnites over Shi'ites? How could this precedent cause anything but animosity in the Muslim world on both sides?
Why does the US President allow this to fester when all he has to say is we plan to stay in Iraq indefinitely? Stay the course is rhetoric because there is no course I can see. Is the plan a secret? Millions in the Muslim world and in America for that matter would love to know.

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork

5:52 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Idiots, everyone!

... except Salient. I'll second your point with a couple of qualifications.

Saddam was a brutal dictator AND an incompetent idiot.

Kim Jong Il is an incompetent idiot AND he's stark, raving mad!

By the way, Salient. I appreciate the fact that, for the most part, you've kept your comments within the realm of reason and decency. I find myself disagreeing with you a lot. But I have to say your comments have at least been civilized.

I wish I could say the same for some of the other left-leaning contributors.

5:54 AM  
Blogger Greg said...


I posted my previous comment before I saw yours. Please don't take the "idiots" comment personally. I do not attribute that characterization to your post.

But I do have a couple of very simple (what can I say, that's all I have) points to consider.

First, you make good points about North Korea.

But, unlike Iraq, North Korea has not recently invaded any neighboriong countries.

Unlike Iraq, North Korea was not in direct conflict of cease fire agreements (I'm not sure how nukes affect that statement).

Unlike Iraq, North Korea was not trying daily to kill American soldiers.

Unlike Iraq, North Korea did not attempt to assasinate an American President.

Unlike Iraq, North Korea is not harboring known Islamic terrorists.

I'm sure there are more (and more nuanced) differences to be shown between the two countires.

As for you comments about the chances for democracy taking root in Iraq, I find your points blatantly racist. Surely you're not saying that Middle Eastern races are incapable of governing themselves!

6:05 AM  
Blogger Cavalor Epthith said...




Having been the editor-in-chief of this paper for some time I have been known to respond to "idiot" so no offence taken, sirrah.

That said . . .

There always seems to be a slippery slope in Iraq War thinking regarding comparisons to greater threats.

Let us look at Iraq as a nation crippled by sanctions just as President Bush took office in January 2001. This was before the coordinated attack of al Qa 'eda on the economic and political centers of the US. Iraq was a threat to no one except a few million Iraqis living under brutal Ba'athist rule.

1) No. North Korea has, technically, lashed out at its southern neighbor. The Korean War was not ended with a teaty of peace but an armistice. They are in a state of "warm war" not hot conflict, but a state of belligerence still exists.

2) I am not sure which "cease-fire" agreements you are referring to in Iraq. Do you mean in 1991 or in the interregnum between wars? Any violation of the Gulf War agreements generally were met with sorties from carriers or cruise missile strikes. This both limited the risk to American soldiers and kept the cost of keeping Saddam Hussein al Tikriti in a box.

3)Here is where you slip. If America did not occupy Iraq, there would have been no attempts to kill American soldiers beyond the futile attempts to shoot down American jets. America would do the same thing if Venezuela flew missions over Florida would they not?

4) Hussein did try to assassinate Bush the elder I grant you that, but if his son really wanted revenge he could have used elite forces, Deltas SEALs to do the job of eliminating Saddam, or he could have destroyed Baghdad with B-52s, rooted Saddam Hussein out and used a small rapid response force to locate and kill him. A full on invasion to get one man for trying to kill one man? Childish and wasteful in lives and treasure.

5)Once again that slippery slop. No invasion no open borders allowing the terrorists entry. The few Al Qaeda that were in the Kurdish north while Saddam and the world waited for Hans Blix to finish his work were there only because Ba'ath Party death squads could not get there to kill them. All intelligence sources I have spoken with state clearly there is and never has been a link between Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the Iraqi government. This is like saying you have a link to the Treasury Secretary because you have a mortgage!

6) I hope I did not give the impression of racism by saying certain people's are not prepared for democracy. Many on Terra are not. Look at America where you send elites to represent working peoples. Is America prepared to vote on every national issue? Could the Right live with the results national referendum on abortion this November if they lost? Would either side in this debate? I do not bristle at charges of racism ( I am sure I have some race based views on some things) because the capabilities of the people in Iraq have nothing to do with their Arab-ness but everything to do with the vast majority of theose who will rule this country, if it can remain whole, have spent their entire lives under the thumb of a totalitarian.

The Former Soviet Union fractured into new republics for the same reason. American democracy is not exportable, but the freedom to govern one's self is. These things are not the same. American can no longer dictate what other nations do until it can get its own house in order.

I do thank you for your civility!

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork

7:03 AM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

WOW - a good debate - Wonderful!

7:34 AM  
Blogger suek said...

>>I hope I did not give the impression of racism by saying certain people's are not prepared for democracy. Many on Terra are not.>>

I see Democracy as a bit like parenthood - nobody is really prepared until they actually experience it. Then you either rise to the challenge or fail. The outcome of success or failure usually takes a long time before it's evident. Sometimes you think you've failed (or succeeded) and later events prove you wrong.
Iraq now has their chance. We'll just have to wait and see what they do with it.
Also found this interesting piece regarding NK...

11:34 AM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

I doubt that North Korea has the capacity to build Nuclear Weapons. Yes they have a couple of reactors, but I doubt that the NK economy has been able to produce anything useful in this area yet.

Chemical Weapons are a different matter. Any country that has a factory that creates pesticides or hericides can easily create Mustard Gas and probably Sarin.

The missiles that NK are testing could easily accomodate a 2000lb HE warhead, a larger warhead than the scuds that Saddam used in Gulf War 1. Since NK has little in the way of air superiority, the missiles they have been testing could attack enemy cities and military installations without the need to provide air cover.

But, of course, they could also be used for Chemical weapons.

(We must remember that for a nation to develop Nuclear and Biological weapons, they need to have a relatively high tech economy that can support it. Chemical weapons rely on 19th century technology. Thus Korea is likely to spend time developing chemical rather than nuclear weapons).

So what does this mean we should do?

Immediate invasion will not lead to millions of North Koreans welcoming invading troops with open arms and flowers. THe NK people are used to their regime and I daresay many are supportive of it.

NK is a very xenophobic and secretive country. They are like this because they are deathly afraid of anyone trying to take them over. Despite their rhetoric and bluster, NK is never likely to invade SK because they know theat it would lead to their own destruction.

The development of missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads is an expression of their defensive stature. In a sense, they are trying to set up a "Mutually Assured Destruction" scenario that will dissuade any attacks. Their missile development is, therefore, not meant as a long-term plan to attack SK, Japan or China (which would be suicide) but to provide a safeguard against anyone invading them.

So, let's say that in 2010 America begins bombing Pyongyang for whatever reason, NK can respond by launching a chemical weapon attack on Tokyo or Seoul.

If NK's paranoia is understood to be what is happening, then the best option the west has is to defuse the situation. This can be achieved by, for example, removing some of the US troops stationed on the border, or maybe even meeting and talking with NK leaders about the situation. Parnoia will only be reduced through long term friendly relations.

Of course, North Korea bears much of the blame for this situation being as bad as it is, but that does not excuse the west for having their own inflamed rhetoric.

8:36 PM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Of course, North Korea bears much of the blame

I meant to say most of the blame.

I may not like George Bush but I'm hardly going to blame him most for this situation.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Cavalor Epthith said...

The cruel irony of nuclear capability on Terra is the material needed to create the greatest weapons of slaughter currently known to mankind can be found in only a few places in Europe, Asia and North America. Imagine if Iran had massive amounts of uranium in their soil? Or if Cuba did?

The "technology" needed to build a thermonuclear warhead has gone from nation state funded super projects down to the military organization or even corporate level in current times. If Pakistan can develop viable nuclear weapons with former Soviet nuclear engineering technology which has been passed about like a bowl of chips throughout the world, then it is silly to think North Korean rocket scientists cannot shake the bugs out of a simple multi-stage implosion needed to create a critical mass. It doesn't have to look like it was over engineered by General Dynamics for it to work.

Kim Jong Il is trying to do the same thing that Bush is trying to do. Both want to leave a legacy where their guys are in charge. Both want to be heard in a world seemingly uninterested, or in disagreement with, in their views.

Both have little or no idea how to work within a global framework of diplomacy because they have had their way for so long within their cloistered personal worlds.

It is truly a dangerous time to be an American, or a Japanese for that matter.

Cavalor Epthith
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork

4:10 AM  

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