War of words

01.06.03

The tensions in North Korea continue to heat up, with the war of words becoming reminiscent of the Cold War era.

But reclusive North Korea remained defiant, denouncing Washington’s missile defense system and threatening the United States with destruction if it launched a nuclear attack over its suspected atomic weapons program.

North Korea said it had “increased its self-defensive military capability” to cope with the “U.S. intensified policy to invade and stifle it with nukes.”

“If the U.S. unleashes a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, it will not escape its destruction,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

That’s of course of little comfort to South Korea, which is hoping to avert a crisis through diplomacy. While appeasement of hostile nuclear threats is of course extremely dangerous, it makes sense that South Korea is scared, given the fact that it’s the most likely to suffer if North Korea launches an attack.

With the escalation in North Korea, inevitable comparisons to Iraq are being made on a daily basis. Jonah Goldberg in the Washington Times explains why the two must be treated differently.

Um, yeah. That’s because North Korea has the fifth-largest standing army in the world, huge supplies of weapons of mass-destruction, probably including nukes, and the ability to inflict staggering casualties on South Korea, Japan and our own troops.

[. . .]

Of course, Iraq wants to be treated like North Korea. That’s why Iraq is pursuing weapons of mass destruction. And that’s why the Bush administration wants to keep that from happening. The whole rationale for stopping Saddam now is that the price might be too high to stop him later, like it already is with North Korea.

A heavy dose of reality is needed here. Some oppose all war on principle, not recognizing that you can’t stand in the middle of a battlefield holding up a white ribbon when you’re being shot at, and that the our enemies’ bombs can’t distinguish between activists and pacifists when they fall. Others say that we can’t right one wrong if we’re not going to right all the others at the same time. To them, I say that we’re doing the best we can, one situation at a time, and that if they really wanted to change the world, they should start backing those efforts.

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