2006 June 22 Thursday
Clinton Officials Call For Preemptive Attack Against North Korea

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

Kenelm Digby said at June 23, 2006 4:59 AM:

After the maulings the USA took in Korea in the 50s and Vietnam in the 60s, I doubt that any US commander with a brain would want to confront an East Asian army again, especially as these same nations are now better developed.

crush41 said at June 24, 2006 9:12 PM:

A big difference between the ME pieces and North Korea is Japan. North Korea is, among other things, making Japan nervous. Here's a concise timeline of Japan's Pacifist Constitution's dilution. Japan's relationships with China both Koreas are pretty icy. The Japanese are culturally removed from the East Asian mainland, and Japanese sentiment is pro-American and the country is virtually alone in its perception that the influence of America on the ideas and customs of home are a good thing.

Maybe we don't want Japan to reverse course by thinking it can rely on us to cull North Korea or China in the future. The lack of North Korean natural resources compared to Iran and Iraq has led to more united sentiment on North Korea than the other two as well.

CASpears said at June 26, 2006 2:12 PM:

The thing is that N.Korea has every right to test a missle under international law. Blowing it up on the launch pad would set a bad precendent. Then again Japan is nervous and N.Korea has threatened Japan several times with nuclear annialation (not sure they can make good on that) but we are under treaty obligation to protect japan so it really is America's business what N.Korea does. Also we have an obligation to S.Korea. I am pretty sure if worse came to worse N.Korea would attack Japan before S.Korea, and this would actual gain them support in S.Korea and with a large amount of the population in China (all mostly anti-Japanese due to WWII atrocities).

I do not think that N.Korea is doing more than posturing though. Kim Jong Il is not irrational, everything he does it logical in maintaining his power in N.Korea, much of this is to gain support domestically with his military.

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