Clinton Administration era secretary of defense William Perry and assistant secretary of defense Ashton Carter say attack and destroy North Korea's Taepodong missile which is getting prepped for a test launch.
Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of "preemption," which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.
Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive -- the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea's nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry.
I think the case for North Korea as a potential threat to the United States is and was much stronger than the case was for Iraq before the war. But Iraq is much closer to Israel and Saddam was seen by the neocons as an enemy of Israel. My guess is that Iran is at much greater risk of a strike by the Bush Administration than is North Korea.
The continuing Iraq Debacle is a distraction from the battle against Islamic terrorists. It is also a distraction from efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 June 22 03:59 PM US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment|