Or Just Chickens?
October 23, 2002
After last week's troubling announcement about North Korea's
nuclear weapons program, I tried to understand the Bush Administration's
reaction, which seems more grounded in diplomacy and carries
no threat of force.
Why seek a diplomatic solution? Isn't North Korea, like Iraq,
a member of the "Axis of Evil"? If Iraq and North Korea are
both seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation
of agreements their governments signed, why doesn't Bush suggest
military action against North Korea? What's good for the goose
is also good for the gander, right?
The motives are obvious to anybody familiar with the Bush
Administration's policies and/or George W. Bush's past. The
White House is probably advocating war on Iraq for reasons
related to oil and to petty vengeance (finish what Daddy started).
These conditions don't exist on the Korean peninsula. There
may be one more significant reason for avoiding military confrontation
with North Korea, one that has no doubt escaped the attention
of most members of the US media.
I submit that a majority of the Bush Administration is comprised
of yellow-bellied chickens.
After looking at the obvious purposes for attacking Iraq,
I tried to consider war itself. The White House must know
that fighting Iraq would be easier than fighting North Korea
because the latter has a greater ability to defend itself.
The White House looks at Iraq as an easy target. Iraq is
weaker than it was in 1991 during the Gulf War. A decade of
sanctions and airstrikes have taken their toll on Iraq's military,
not to mention its supplies of food, medicine and other necessities
for fighting a war. Though many countries oppose the use of
US force in Iraq, Saddam Hussein doesn't have any allies who
could come to his aid in the event of an attack.
North Korea, on the other hand, is much farther along in
its nuclear weapons program than Iraq. The US would no doubt
base a military operation against North Korea in South Korea,
and the North already has troops along its border with the
South. Though US troops are already stationed in South Korea,
they are certainly not enough to mount a determined offensive
in the North.
To make the issue more complicated, North Korea has an ally:
China. The Bush Administration's handling of the 2001 spy
plane incident is clear evidence that it wants to avoid confrontation
with China as well.
Realizing that Iraq is an easier target than North Korea,
I concluded that easy victory is the biggest political windfall
the White House seeks by going to war. Military action in
Iraq means the US public will forget the poor economy, the
steady erosion of our civil liberties under Attorney General
John Ashcroft, and the administration's failure to capture
Osama bin Laden. A war with North Korea, on the other hand,
would probably mean heavy US casualties; a long, difficult
conflict leading to public backlash; and maybe even a disastrous
war with China.
I believe this country should only go to war when it is necessary
and moral. It's probably safe to say such concepts rarely
make it past the door of the Oval Office right now. The Bush
Administration wants a fight because it's easy. This demonstrates
the worst kind of cowardice. Under George W. Bush, the United
States is simply a bully, picking on the weakest kids on the
playground. Notice, however, that bully stays away from any
kid who might throw a punch in defense - even if that punch
is not enough to defeat the bully.
Critics of the White House stance on Iraq use the word "chickenhawk"
to describe the administration's leaders. Men who avoided
military service in the 1960s now want others to lay down
their young lives. Given that George W. Bush will only fight
when he's assured of winning, I think we should drop the word
"hawk" from that label.