There has been a new ball thrown into our ever-changing juggle of international responsibilities.
The situation in the Korean Peninsula has added a new ticking time bomb for the United States to deal with. As if we needed another distraction while trying to simultaneously handle the hunt for al-Qaida and the debate over going to war with Iraq.
As the planet’s self-proclaimed police force, you have to wonder if we will grab onto one ball too many and let the whole world explode in our face.
North Korea admits to having a nuclear weapons program, and the Bush Administration wants to send diplomats to negotiate their disarmament. We didn’t even have to get denied military options by the United Nations to be forced to go immediately to the bargaining table.
The last time the country threatened to go nuclear, in 1994, the United States gave the North Korean leadership funds to build two power reactors with the promise they would use their capabilities to benefit their people. Instead, the country’s dictator Kim Jong Il stole our aid to go underground and develop nuclear weapons anyway while the country’s economy hit rock bottom and his people went hungry.
In 1999, North Korea test-fired a missile that completely flew over Japan and halfway across the Pacific. They have few modifications to make to their missiles before they are able to reach the West Coast, possibly within the next two years.
And the North Korean leaders are still civilized enough for us to want to talk them.
Bush has made no nationally televised speeches to inform Americans about the threat this country poses us. He has not insisted on a regime change or called upon all Congressional candidates to make a strong stand on invading North Korea.
When you look a world away toward the Middle East there couldn’t be a more of a confluence of contradictions.
We still have no real evidence that Iraq is trying to develop nuclear weapons, but the president wants to blow them into the Stone Age. The administration has scared Congress enough to make them grant the president the power of going into armed conflict with Iraq, although the U.N. is still skeptical of giving Bush broad powers in the Middle East.
The last time Iraq threatened to build on its military capabilities the United States unleashed Desert Storm. In the aftermath, the country’s dictator Saddam Hussein got slapped with economic sanctions, a no-fly zone and weapons inspections. These measures did not get the desired response from Iraq. Instead of bankrupting Saddam, the sanctions allowed him to make a fortune selling oil on the black market. His people are by no means rich, but at least they’re not starving and their economy is not as bleak as North Korea’s.
As far as Iraq’s defense capabilities go, their weak SCUD missiles can’t come close to hitting America. The Iraqi’s have not tested any long-range missiles, and don’t seem to have any desire to because they know they’ll be turned into a parking lot.
And Saddam is supposed to be the crazy one.
So we need to go to war with Iraq to preserve the peace; and we need to negotiate with North Korea to allow them to tinker with their nuclear toys. It seems the administration is saying that as long as you admit to having a nuclear program we’ll at least discuss your options, but if you leave the cat in the bag, we’ll beat the living snot out of you until you say uncle.
And as we’re fretting about the pair of nasty dictators, we’re forgetting about the third ball in our deadly juggle: al-Qaida.
Recent bombings in Bali and shootings in Kuwait attributed to the terrorist group have virtually gone unnoticed. Because of the debate about Iraq, Congress never finished a formal inquiry into how our intelligence dropped the ball on Sept. 11. These mistakes are still not completely understood, and our country is still vulnerable to the fear of being sucker-punched by any psychopath with a grudge, as a pair of men with a Chevy Caprice and a rifle demonstrated near Washington, D.C. over the last two months.
While we’re concentrating on the conflicts in North Korea and Iraq, we can’t afford to drop the ball on al-Qaida again.