Comparing the Threat of North Korea with the Threat of Iraq
By Rachel Alexander
March 15, 2003
Is the Bush administration using a double standard by aggressively reacting to Iraq but seeming to downplay the North Korean threat? The Left criticizes Bush, claiming that his concentration on Saddam Hussein is causing him to ignore the real threat, Kim Jong-il, who is rumored to already have missiles with the capability of striking the United States. Unfortunately, many on the Left are using the debate as just another strawman argument to criticize Bush's performance, as well as using North Korea as a sideshow to achieve their pacifist ideological goal of preventing military intervention in Iraq. Whom do you believe? Perhaps the issue isn't as simple as a few slogans hand-scrawled on protest signs. "Babes, not bombs," comes to mind.
Those on the Left claim that since it has now been revealed that North Korea probably has two nuclear weapons, as well as conventional missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland, military action is a higher priority there than in Iraq, which only has conventional weapons, chemical agents and biological agents. Yet isn't precisely because North Korea has nuclear weapons the reason why we should not rashly attack them? Such an attack could precipitate a nuclear war! The Left frequently and conveniently forgets history. From 1950 - 1991, the U.S. and the former Soviet Union maintained a chilly relationship of detente since each had nuclear weapons - and there aren't very many people in hindsight today who think we should have initiated a military campaign against the Soviet Union. The decision to go to war with a nuclear power must be examined with much more caution than a decision to attack an easily assailable nation that does not have nuclear weapons. Funny how the Left was so stridently opposed to President Reagan's aggressive stance towards the former Soviet Union in the 1980's, yet now they can't wait to criticize Bush for failing to go after North Korea immediately.
The Left is fond of pointing out that the Bush administration knew last September that North Korea has been building a light-water nuclear reactor, financed by South Korea and Japan. In truth, when the Bush administration found out about the reactor in September, it informed a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders. The administration did not further publicize the fact that North Korea had admitted it had a nuclear weapons program until three weeks later, after Congress had voted to authorize force against Iraq. The reason given for the delay was that the administration wanted to consult privately with Japan, South Korea, China, and other nations first. According to a recent article in the New Republic, there was no apparent reason for the Bush administration to have concealed information about North Korea. Even Iraq-squishy Democrats such as John Kerry have acknowledged that the new information about North Korea would not have changed their votes on the Iraq resolution.
Since 1993, North Korea has refused to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As we have since learned from Clinton's do-nothing policy towards North Korea in the 1990's, it would have been smarter to disarm North Korea back in 1993, when we first suspected Pyongyang was starting to build nuclear weapons. Then it would not have had the opportunity to develop the nuclear weapons they reputedly have now. But who was in power at the time? President Clinton, whose rationale for military action was overwhelmingly based upon whether it appeared to be an easy win that would increase his approval ratings. Following the advice of former advisor Dick Morris, Clinton based his policies on whichever way the current political opinion winds were blowing, in order to maintain his popularity ratings and likeability.
Hasn't the U.S. learned anything from experience? Now that North Korea has nuclear weapons, it presents a much more serious threat than it did ten years ago, and correspondingly, the U.S. faces a considerably greater and daunting task in disarming it. Since it is universally agreed upon that Saddam Hussein intends to obtain or build nuclear weapons, shouldn't we be taking his deception with the weapons inspectors more seriously, instead of allowing him to drag things out under the pretense of “negotiating” while, in secret, he continues to compile weapons?
There are numerous other reasons why the Bush administration is focusing its military sights on Iraq instead of North Korea. Unlike North Korea, which has had 50 years of relative peace with its neighbors, Iraq has gone to war twice with neighboring countries and has used chemical warfare on its own citizens. Military experts acknowledge that bringing down Saddam Hussein will probably be completed within a couple of weeks. North Korea’s military is three times larger than Iraq’s. A war with North Korea will require 700,000 troops, almost three times the number being sent into Iraq. Furthermore, Seoul, South Korea, is within striking range of North Korea's missiles. The city would be a likely target should the U.S. strike North Korea. Up until quite recently, South Korea has been a supportive ally of the U.S. Considering the risk of nuclear war from taking on a nuclear power, the Bush administration has chosen to engage in diplomacy first, using China as a conduit to pressure Pyongyang into halting its program to enrich uranium for weapons. The U.N. Security Council has given Saddam Hussein ultimatum after ultimatum, and if the Left had its way, would give him countless more before ever authorizing war. Funny how the Left is so quick to criticize Bush for not going after North Korea without so much as a peep demanding a single ultimatum against them first.
We all know that if there were no Iraqi threat, the Left would not be clamoring to go after North Korea militarily. Only if a Democratic president were in office, and needed a boost for himself and other Democrats in the polls, or a diversion from a scandal, and only if it appeared to be an easy in and out, such as appeared to be the case in Bosnia and Kosovo, would the Left support an attack on anyone. The Right is not being inconsistent here - does anyone really think that the Bush administration is going to sit back and allow North Korea to build and sell nuclear weapons? The Left pretends not to understand why the Bush administration is not going after North Korea immediately, because the Left truly does not want to understand - they would rather attack the Right as being inconsistent in order to drag down the approval ratings of Bush and the Republicans in Congress.
One prominent Left wing magazine has stated, “The administration's do- nothing policy [in North Korea] is foolish and dangerous, and quite unnecessary.” It will be amusing to see the Left eat their words when Bush ends the mission in Iraq and then goes after North Korea. Perhaps the Left shouldn't ask for what they want unless they really mean it, because they just might get it. Bush is not like Clinton - his philosophy entails stopping the threat of evil through the use of military force if necessary, much unlike the Clinton philosophy, which was primarily based on polls of domestic and foreign opinions to see how strongly they supported any particular decision. It is understandable if pacifists genuinely oppose military action against Iraq or North Korea. There are many who oppose military intervention, including many conservatives. But for the Left to pretend to support military action in North Korea, while opposing it in Iraq, is intellectually dishonest and should be exposed for being a double standard – the double standard of the Left, not of the Bush administration.
The author is the editor of IntellectualConservative.com
Copyright 2003 by Rachel Alexander. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.