Saturday, June 24, 2006

Don't take North Korea's missile out on the launch pad

A number of different people, from blogs to Newt Gingrich to William Perry, have mentioned this week that we should take out North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile while it is still on the launch pad. I'd like to remind everyone that we and the South Koreans are still technically in a cease-fire with the North Koreans. A cruise missile attack by us on that missile site in North Korean territory would be a flagrant violation of that cease-fire, giving the North the excuse to retaliate against the South. We are in no way prepared for either defending South Korea or are we in a position to fight a full scale war on the Korean peninsula, so attacking that missile site would be like hanging the South Koreans out to dry.

I should note, the talk of doing so may serve a purpose, though. One advantage of our wild public discourse is that it makes us appear less predictable to more authoritarian nations like China. The last thing China wants is an escalation on the Korea peninsula. If they are monitoring our media, and I'm sure they are, seeing a former Secretary of Defense and a former Speaker of the House advocating this on a bipartisan level is giving them pause and perhaps encouraging them to turn up the pressure on Kim Jong-Il.

Add Walter Mondale to the list of those in favor of taking it out on the pad.

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