The forgotten ‘evil’ country

Michael McLaughlin

It is the last Stalinist state in the world and a long-time enemy of the United States who, at least technically, we’ve been at war with for 55 years. Last Thursday, North Korea announced what everyone had suspected for years — that it is a nuclear power. Yet, the news of the roguest of rouge states having the most deadly weaponry in the planet barely made a whimper in the news.

Perhaps this collective shrug is because it wasn’t exactly a surprise. However, the administration’s focus on the Middle East, and Iraq in particular, doesn’t seem to have helped matters in this regard. That focus has led to the unsurprising result of the American public being more worried about nonexistent WMD in Baghdad while all too real ones were being produced in Pyongyang.

Don’t get me wrong. President Clinton’s administration also had its failures in dealing with Kim-Jong Il — sending then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang to soothe that country’s dictator wasn’t exactly the crowning moment of Clinton’s term. But at least he had the right idea in trying to do something with North Korea instead of the Bush administration’s policy, which seemingly was/is hoping that China will yell at Kim to knock it off.

Regardless, now that North Korea has the bomb, the proverbial $64,000 question is how does the United States deal with this problem. Unfortunately, there doesn’t really appear to be any solutions that aren’t high-risk without much reward.

The threat of all-out war is out of the question with the army bogged down in Iraq. The only way that enough troops could be raised to bring the army up to full strength would be through reinstituting the draft. The fallout of such a move would lead to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid (and probably President Hillary Clinton in 2008). This, plus the simple truth that North Korea would undoubtedly be a “tougher nut” than Iraq, makes it politically impossible for Bush to legitimately threaten war.

The other solutions are just as depressing when one looks at them. A targeted strike upon nuclear facilities would almost certainly miss at least one silo and would result in a counterattack, which would be nuclear in nature.

Just withdrawing from the peninsula as some isolationists desire would be abandoning a democratic country and our staunch ally, South Korea. Doing so doesn’t follow the type of policy the “grand defender of freedom” should be undertaking.

Additionally, the idea of arming Japan with nuclear weapons to screw with China’s head (under the theory that China gave them to North Korea to screw with ours, which has been put forward by some neo-conservative writers, the best known being Charles Krauthammer) abrogates 30 years of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weaponry.

At the end of the day, the only real option is to enter into the bilateral talks with North Korea, which President Bush is against seemingly only because Kim wants them. While these talks certainly will not solve the problem (and will probably just be used as a delaying tactic by both sides), they at least provide some vague hope for a peaceful solution.

Unfortunately, hope appears to be all we have at the moment.

Mike McLaughlin is a senior history major, secretary for the College Democrats and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].