Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Policy Perspectives After North Korea Fires Missiles

The New York Times has an editorial this morning on the North Korean missile launching, but, despite a three-hour time advantage, the L.A. Times does not. This confirms what has been suspected for a long time: Andres Martinez, editor of the LAT's editorial pages, is not only goofy, he is lazy.

But of course there are bigger fish to fry today than Martinez, who has distinguished himself thus far by getting rid of all three of the Pulitzer Prize winners on his staff.

To turn to the matter at hand, there was a place in the otherwise unremarkable movie, "Mars Attacks," where someone desirous of talks with the invading Martians asks what they want, are they willing to open negotiations? "We want you to die," a Martian responds, or some words to that effect.

The dreadful suspicion grows that North Korean aims are just as malevolent. Talks thus far with the regime of the dictator, Kim Jong Il, have been fruitless. He is a thug who does not want, nor will he seek, better relations.

So, as with Iran, which has resisted all Western pleas to come up with a timely response to an offer for a reasonable settlement of its nuclear aspirations, not only the U.S. but the world is confronted with quite a dilemma.

If sanctions are invoked against North Korea, the North Koreans threaten to start a war on the Korean peninsula. Just over the weekend, they suggested it could be a nuclear war. Yet if nothing is done, the North Korean nuclear threat will only grow. North Korea has been selling its missiles to countries in the Middle East. Why not nuclear weapons as well?

In the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, China and the Soviet Union both opposed sanctions, proving once again that as a body the U.N. is worthless when it comes to punishing wrongdoers, just as the League of Nations was. No consensus is possible on any really strong or decisive action.

Under these circumstances, the U.S., Japan and other countries may find that the only availing policy is to try to rid ourselves of Kim Jong Il and his regime, by fair means or foul. Assassinating him might ultimately prove to be the least risky course, difficult as that might be.

Will we have to live under a North Korean nuclear missile threat? Not perhaps if the Bush Administration summons up its courage and goes after the tyrant.

It occurred to me Wednesday morning that it was possibly not just malfunction that caused the North Koreans' long range missile to blow up and crash just 42 seconds after liftoff. Suppose the U.S. Navy was really on the ball and managed to make the missile crash through electronic interference. Now, that would be good news.

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