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Don't Repeat Iraq Idiocy With North Korea

The latest fury of worry about North Korea comes today in the form of a North Korean missile test. “North Korea appears to be preparing for a long-range missile launch that could possibly reach the United States,” writes ABC News Reporter Joohee Cho.

Pay attention to this phrase in that article: Could possibly. What does could possibly mean? It sounds a bit like Sarah Palin’s favorite phrase, also too.

Could possibly means that something might might happen. What this article is really saying is that North Korea looks like it might be getting ready to launch a missile that might might be able to reach the United States.

Of course, that’s not how most Americans are reading this article, and others like it. The message that they’re getting is that North Korea is going to launch a missile that can hit the United States.

Oh, and when we talk about that missile perhaps being capable of reaching the United States, are we talking about a nuclear weapon exploding over Los Angeles? No. When these news reports talk about a missile that “could possibly reach the United States”, the “United States” means the closest part of the United States, which, from North Korea, is that little tiny island in far western Alaska, where, as Sarah Palin informed us, when the air is clear, you can see Russia, and Putin rearing his head into our airspace.

Now, it’s Kim Jong-il who’s rearing his head into Alaska’s airspace, or a little corner of it, possibly, maybe.

north korean missile could

Keep in mind that the same journalistic organizations that are now reporting on a North Korean threat are the same journalistic organizations that told reported back in 2002 and 2003 on the threat of weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, they said, threatened the entire world.

The mistake of invading Iraq was to confuse domestic and regional posturing with a global threat. Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction at all. They said that they did, not because the Iraqi government was planning aggression, but because the Iraqi government was afraid of aggression. Americans only considered Iraqi politics at the cartoonish level of Saddam Hussein being a “bad guy”, without bothering to wonder if other motivations might be at work.

We ought not to make the same mistake with North Korea now. Yes, North Korea has a rotten government that abuses the people within its borders. Yes, North Korea has nuclear weapons. However, there’s no clear reason to think that North Korea has any plans to use its nuclear weapons and missile technology for anything other than Saddam-Hussein-style defensive posturing.

In interpreting North Korea’s sudden nuclear display, consider what else is going on in North Korean politics. The current leader, Kim Jong-il, appears to be seriously ill. Reports indicate that he has just chosen a successor, a sign that North Korea’s leader is preparing to die. North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles tests look an awful lot like a display of strength by a government that is worried about its vulnerability.

Even as Saddam Hussein made blustering shows of defiance to the world, there was little actual reason for the world to worry about him. The same appears to be true about Kim Jong-il. Let’s not make the mistake of 2003 again, and accept the megalomaniacal posturings of a contained dictator at face level.

33 comments to Don't Repeat Iraq Idiocy With North Korea

  • Anonymous

    Something needs to happen in N. Korea. I think they are simply testing and posturing and I am not at all worried about this tiny country being a global threat but I am amazed that we are allowing this cruel treating of the people of N. Korea. It is the most hostile place on Earth to live as a citizen. Stanfing in the middle of the Taliban ‘army’ preaching is 1000 times safer then owning a Bible in N. Korea. The human rights record is atrocious and something needs to be done for those people… And it needs to be done now, not in 15 years when we are forced to do something!

  • Mark

    There are plenty of US targets much closer to Korea than Alaska: Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa, South Korea. I’m not so much worried about North Korea launching a nuclear missile that could hit the US mainland. My concern is that they would launch it at our allies: Japan or South Korea.

    Diplomacy is clearly not working with North Korea to get them to stop their advancements in nuclear and rocket technology. They are the ones who seem to want war with us (and South Korea in particular). The US government (for a generation now) has bent over backwards to entice them to move off this course and enter the mainstream of the world community. I think that all of this posturing is from an overwhelming fear that the US and South Korea are eager to invade, despite regular assurances that we do not wish to do so.

    There is a major differences between Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein. Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, Kim does! I am not as confident as you are that he will not use what he has. I’m not sure that all of this is simply “megalomaniacal posturing”. Kim is crazy enough that he just might launch a nuclear missile.

    • Anonymous

      Im sure he knows that we cant launch one in retaliation. All of the world fears nuclear fall out. If he launches one his will be the only one launched. It would then turn into a ground war…

    • How do you know that, Mark? How do you know?

      I thought we would have learned the lesson of the idiotic invasion of Iraq: Let’s not pretend to know what we don’t know.

      • Mark

        How do I know what? That North Korea has working nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them? It’s a demonstrated fact that they have (or are very close to having) these. They’ve been openly testing them for the past year or two.

        Anonymous, I’d rather see a ground war in North Korea than a single nuclear explosion in Japan (or anywhere else for that matter) if the ground war can prevent the nuclear explosion. Do you suggest we wait until he has the full and demonstrated ability to launch a nuclear armed missile? What do we do then?

  • qs

    Nice picture.

    Does everyone on this site use photoshop?

    • Different people here use different versions on different platforms, though I believe that Jim uses, or has used, GIMP in the past. I tried using GIMP and had trouble with it, though that was about three years ago now. You’ve had no problems with it?

      • qs

        I have an older version of photoshop. I used to make textures and avatars and etc so I was good at it for a certain kind of designs.

        But I’ve used GIMP on computers where I didn’t have it installed, and it seems to work pretty well.

        Also GIMP is open source so people make their own plugins for it, and some of them are kind of nice although it’s hard to know which ones are good and which ones are not.

        I think GIMPv2 just came out recently but I heard it’s not as good at least right now.

        • Jim

          For the life of me I can’t get GIMP to take more than four actions on a graphic without the whole program crashing. I look forward to a more stable version, because I like the whole open source idea but right now the program is just of no use.

  • qs

    If you don’t have it or don’t want to buy it or the photoshop elements, there is a free program called GIMP that does all the same stuff as photoshop.

    It’s an amazingly nice program.

  • Tom

    Just a thought: could N. Korea be publicly advertising military wares for the benefit of those rogue states and “terrorist” elements out there in these public displays of hardware and bomb tests?

    • Mark

      Tom,
      I think your assessment is very accurate. This is yet another reason why the North Koreans need to be stopped, by military force if diplomacy doesn’t work (and by all accounts, diplomacy is failing miserably).

      • This doesn’t make sense. You just said that you think that North Korea is acting the way it is out of fear that we’re going to invade. So, if people like you are banging the drums of war, doesn’t that just make the situation worse? Now, you’re embracing a totally different explanation. You know what I think? I think you don’t really know what’s motivating North Korea. I think you’re guessing. Let’s not start another war based on guessing, okay?

        • Jacob

          Something has to be done about the conditions the people are forced to live in either way. As a country that supposidlt cares about people we cant let this treatment continue…

          • Okay, so do you propose to bomb the people there to make them feel better? Do you support bombing people in other countries where people endure rotten conditions?

            Your comment presumes that we have the power to end how things are in North Korea right now. That might not be true. Think about how you’re going to help people. War seems like an easy answer, at first, but it isn’t.

            • Jacob

              I didnt say war to end the conditions. That is obviously a worse condition for the people. They would be used as shields. What we need is to find a way for them to allow us to come in with food and medical attention for the people and work to get them to stiop killing there own people in order to keep others in the state of fear. Peregrin you have mixed me with Mark, I never said war I just think we need to do all we can to help these people…

  • Mark

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not banging on war drums. Military operations against North Korea are the last thing I would want to see happen. I am fully willing to give peaceful negotiations a chance to succeed. Success being measured by the North Korean government’s actions to dismantle their nuclear and missile programs. However, they have continued to develop these programs despite assurances (by them!) that they would stop. The US and other nations have given North Korea plenty of opportunities to re-engage the world and receive economic relief. Yet, they continue along this path of developing nuclear missiles. I strongly believe that they intend to fully develop this technology and then blackmail the world into giving them whatever they want under threat of launching a nuclear missile. I also believe (as Tom mentioned above) that they intend on selling the technology to whomever can afford it. They have shown repeatedly that they cannot be trusted when they give their word during negotiations that they will refrain from developing the technology in exchange for economic aid, and then they continue development and demand more aid.

    Without a regime change there is little we can do to help the people of North Korea. The government seems to be doing all it can to keep them in a permanent state of starvation and ignorance.

    Unfortunately, I think that the time is coming soon when we will have to admit that diplomacy has failed and we will have to resort to tactical air strikes against key nuclear and missile targets. This strategy has worked well in other situations: Libya, Syria (by Israel), and Iran (also by Israel).

    • Do you realize, Mark, that the United States has also pledged, upon passage of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to eliminate its own nuclear weapons? The US has been given plenty of opportunities to do so. Yet, the US continues to maintain its massive arsenal of nuclear weapons.

      This issue is not as simple as you’ve proclaimed it to be. Peace needs not just one chance for negotiations, but chance after chance after chance after chance. The alternative, after all, could result in much more misery than is being currently experienced.

      Nobody knows for sure whether all North Korea’s nuclear missile launch locations have been found by US intelligence. Attacking North Korea could easily provoke a nuclear attack. Are you willing to take that chance?

  • Mark

    Peregrin, I do understand all of this. The big difference between the US having nuclear missiles and North Korea having them is that we are much less likely to use them. We also won’t be selling them to terrorists or other nations who would be willing to use them.

    North Korea has had far more than once chance for peace. They’ve had numerous chances for the past 50 years.

    Missile launch facilities are pretty easily seen from satellites. It takes the North Koreans at least a couple days to get a rocket ready. In that time I’m certain we could see it and eliminate it.

    • How are we much less likely to use them, Mark? Pop quiz: Which is the only nation ever to engage in a nuclear attack?

      Just where do you think North Korea’s nuclear weapons technology can be traced back to? I’ll give you a clue: It rhymes with Banhattan Yoject in the Loonited Dates.

  • Jacob

    What keeps the US from taking the first step and disarming these?

  • Mark

    Russia’s arsenal. China’s arsenal. Our need to at least present the idea that we could retaliate with nuclear weapons should we be attacked with them. Believe it or not, to at least some extend MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) has kept the world from using nuclear weapons for the past 60 years.

    If we are pointing guns at each other, I may holster mine in hopes of reaching a peaceful agreement, but don’t expect me to throw it away while you are still pointing yours at me.

  • Mark

    Jacob, did I understand the question? I assumed you meant disarming our own nuclear arsenal. If you meant destroying North Korea’s then I would say that not much is keeping us from taking the first step. Only a lingering (and decreasing) hope that North Korea will stop their development and take up serious negotiations.

  • Jacob

    No, I mean ours. I disagree greatly with N. Korea but I have to say that while we have 9,600 of them pointed out towards other countries I think I can N. Koreas side of why they feel like they need them. If the US would start to get ride of them I think the odds of others doing the same would be much greater. Heck, lets just start with a very public reduction to say 500. That would speak volumes to the other countries and still give us plenty of chance to end all life on Earth should the need arise. I think other countries would follow suite and reduce. Then maybe we take step two and go to 100.

  • Mark

    Jacob, I agree with you that we should drastically reduce our own arsenal from current levels to 500-1000. That would be like holstering our gun in my example. Then, having taken the high road, we, as a nation, could insist and expect that others will follow our example. Further reductions could take place after other nations have reduced their own arsenals.

    But, I don’t think that this move would dissuade North Korea from continuing along the development path they have chosen. Even if we had only 100 nuclear missiles, this would change nothing as far as they are concerned. If they feel threatened by our arsenal, that feeling would not change whether our arsenal was 100 or 10,000.

    • Jacob

      but it at least gives us grounds to negatiate and if we can at least work in that direction maybe we can get help to the people who really need it. If you think about it 9,600 atomic weapons (im sure they come in more then one strength) is enough to scorch every square inch of Earth more then once. We should be able to reduce to bring talks along. Maybe it wont work but its worth a try. the current path seems to only lead to distruction…

  • Mark

    Sounds nice, in theory, but the world doesn’t have the time. North Korea’s development of a nuclear missile will be complete within the next year or two. They have been negotiating for years and delaying so that they can develop this capability. More delay is exactly what they want.

    • Oh, we heard that line with Iraq, too. Remember? We didn’t have time to look to see if the weapons of destruction were actually there. Every time someone tells me I don’t have time to question, or to consider alternatives, my skepticism increases considerably.

  • Mark

    But we do know that the weapons are there. And there has been decades of time already.

  • Nike

    Mark you retarded idiot, i was about to make a sane comment but then i realized your one of those americans who give other americans a bad name. I hope you die realy soon of cancer or a of a nuclear attack of some terrorist orginasation you cannot put any finger on. Please i wish you allot of suffering in your life and same goes for the american soldiers in Iraq that are draining iraq’s natural resources. Btw it ever occoured to any of the people here posting that N-Korea an places like tibet contain insane amounts of oil/ gold/ Uranium? Guess what fucked up corporate controlled country wants to have that shit.

  • Jacob

    “North Korea threatened Wednesday to wipe the United States off the map ”

    Umm.. that’s not good. Did they say how they plan to get this far and what they plan to do with all the land??? That’s a lot of rock to move. Maybe they just meant that when they published maps in N. Korea they would leave a void where the US is and call Canada a large island…

    • Jim

      Yep, Jacob, your mocking derision is pretty much the right attitude for dealing with this sort of over-the-top bellicosity. North Korea is trying to provoke and get attention, without the capability to accomplish what it threatens.

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