Iraq vs. N. Korea: a Hobson’s Choice
We end 2002 with two quotes each underscoring the perils our nation and the world must face in 2003. The first is from a Reader’s Digest volume entitled: The Last Two Million Years.
“…overshadowing the life of Western man in the 20th century is a fateful paradox. Through science and technology, he has not only found the means to master his environment – he has also developed the capacity to destroy it…The use of the atomic bomb…opened up for mankind the appalling possibility of his self-destruction as a species.
The second quotation is from the CIA World Fact Book:
“Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Communist domination and the southern portion becoming Western oriented. Kim Chong-il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country’s founder, president Kim Il-song, died in 1994. After decades of mismanagement, the North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population, while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of about 1 million. North Korea’s long-range missile development and research into nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community.”
Yes, North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability and its leader, Kim Chong-il, should be of major concern to all living creatures. North Korea dictator, Kim Chong –il, is crazier than the old-maid Aunts Ross Perot says some southern families keep locked up in their basements.
Moreover, Kim Chong-il is crazy enough to believe President George W. Bush will fall for the same trick he pulled on Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in 1994 – a promise to stop nuclear weapons research and development in exchange for $5 billion in food and oil.
Now, we discover Kim Chong-il not only has an undetermined number of nuclear weapons but also has the means to deliver them and, most certainly, the ability to sell nuclear weapons to the Al Qaeda terrorists.
If Kim Chong-il’s nuclear weapons arsenal is allowed to grow larger he will soon be able to impose nuclear blackmail upon the international community. We could soon face a situation where the use of nuclear weapons by either side would result in mutually-assured destruction. Unfortunately, the consequences of mutually-assured destruction may not register on Kim Chong-il whose mental elevator doesn’t go anywhere near the top floor.
In 1981, the Israelis decided Saddam Hussein’s nuclear power plant at Osiraq was a nuclear weapons production facility in disguise. Using conventional bombs, Israeli aircraft eliminated the Osiraq nuclear facility in a matter of minutes. In 2003, the United States could easily do the same to North Korea.
But, unlike the privates of the Iraqi Army who will soon be falling all over themselves to surrender to our GIs, North Korea has an army of foot soldiers who will either die attacking their cousins to the south or be shot in the back by their own sergeants and officers. Moreover, those of us who have spent a winter on the Korean Peninsula can understand that death can be a welcome option for those who have lived for so long in the hungry cold and poverty of North Korea. In short, what has a North Korean foot soldier got to lose? But he might gain access to all those beautiful shopping malls underneath the streets of Seoul.
About 38,000 Americans, who do have a lot to lose, are stationed in South Korea. They must help the South Koreans stop waves of North Korean infantry and tanks backed by artillery that can already fire upon the northern outskirts of Seoul.
For the Bush Administration, the question is which snake to kill first: Saddam, the easy one, or Kim Chong-il and run the risk another Korean ground war?
Dealing with madmen is always fraught with danger; however logic suggests the demise of Saddam just might have a sobering effect on Kim Chong-il. Either way, it’s going to be a heck of a 2003.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about a terrorist attack on Colorado’s high country.
©2002. William Hamilton