Bad to Unimaginable
January 10, 2003
By Mike Shannon
is with no small degree of trepidation that one attempts to
apply logic to the workings of politics. The invariable and
thoroughly unpredictable twists and turns of political machinations
being what they are routinely defy any and all attempt to
predict what will happen next; particularly in a geopolitical
environment that is as fluid as the one we find ourselves
in at the moment.
Still, if you expect both friend and adversary alike to have
a working understanding of your direction and aims there must
be some sense of conformity to established norms and procedures.
Or at least you would think so. However, it is becoming increasingly
self evident that the words and actions of the Bush Administration
are often very much at odds. You could say that what we have
here is a failure to reconcile.
Since That Day President Bush has been praised ad nauseam
for throwing down a well defined and apparently inalterable
gauntlet. His declaration of a clear delineation between who
the good guys are and who are the bad quickly became his rhetorical
weapon of choice. And as a rhetorical tool used to express
the outrage of a grievously wronged people it was extremely
effective. As an articulation of United States policy it has
been remarkably ineffective.
Nowhere is the breakdown between what has been spoken and
what has been done been more glaringly revealed to be at loggerheads
than with the rapidly deteriorating - or is it escalating?
- situation between the US and North Korea.
Even allowing that the conundrum the Washington finds itself
it at the moment is entirely self induced, it is only fair
that policy makers be permitted the latitude to address different
scenarios on the basis of their individual characteristics
and relative merit. So, if North Korea was a problem that
had been off the radar screen only to suddenly appear due
to an unimagined series of circumstances that would be one
thing. But as we all know that is absolutely not the case.
North Korea has been a charter member of the axis of evil
since Mr Bush first uttered the words in early 2002. While
their designation as such came as a surprise to many, upon
closer examination the regime of Kim Jong Il has proven itself
to fit the bill of what the President defined as states hostile
to the security and best interests of the United States to
a T. As a matter of fact; North Korea can well lay claim to
being the most potentially dangerous of the lot.
If you were to list the criteria for inclusion in the triad
of evil; wanton disregard for the basic human rights of its
own people, despotic rule, proven inclination to the projection
of hostile force against neighboring nations, and most importantly,
the production of vast stores of weapons of mass destruction,
North Korea is guilty as charged.
Not only are the North Koreans producing WMD they rely on
the sale and exportation of such devices as a major source
of state revenue. The Times of London writes in their online
edition of December 30, 2002, " North Korea raised $560 million
dollars from weapon sales in 2001 alone." Included in that
total are the sales of missiles and missile technology; as
was so undisputably proven by the recent seizure, and subsequent
release, of a ship load of scud missiles on their way to Yemen.
And whereas Yemen is considered an ally in our war against
terrorism, North Korea's other clients - again quoting the
Times, "North Korea's customers are believed to include Iran,
Lybia and Syria" - are most assuredly not.
As dangerous and destabilizing as these sales may be they
are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg. By the admission
of the intelligence services of the United States, North Korea
has most likely already produced one or two nuclear warheads.
With the expulsion of UN nuclear inspectors and the restarting
of their nuclear plant, this number may double or triple in
the very near future.
This potentially catastrophic development is precisely what
Mr Bush was referring to when he declared that the United
States retains the right to take preemptive action against
any nation - particularly the Evil Three - that attempts to
acquire a nuclear capability. It is also what the President
meant when he said, "to wait is to run the risk of waiting
So has the United States turned its gun sights away from
Iraq and towards this much more formidable and dangerous foe?
Hardly. As these words are being written it seems as though,
however begrudgingly, the Bush administration has decided
that this challenge does not have a military solution. While
this decision may seem to be in direct contradiction to the
oft stated policies referred to above it is the right one.
The thought that comments along the lines of these are tantamount
to wanting the US to engage North Korea militarily are ridiculous.
On the contrary; choosing to negotiate is the only rational
way to deal with such a threat. Unless, of course, one adheres
to the abhorrent philosophy that there is such a thing as
a winnable nuclear war.
The problem here transcends North Korea or any other single
nation. For far too long the world community has deluded itself
into thinking the nuclear genie could be kept in the bottle.
The only surprise that we are now seeing a renewed round of
nuclear proliferation is that it has taken this long to happen.
Now that it has it will only serve to spur other nations into
repeating the same unforgivable sin.
This is no longer an issue between the United States and
its enemies. Nuclear weapons are a real and present danger
to human civilization itself. There is no sand deep enough
to bury our heads in to escape that reality. For the sake
of all who inhabit this planet we must put aside political
considerations and deal with this problem on an international
basis. Permitting ourselves to allow our words to lead us
into actions of incalculable horror are simply not an option.
Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org