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July 6, 2006
North Korea Continue Provocation Despite Incompetence

Sometimes one has to admire tenacity in the face of ongoing embarrassment. North Korea continue to threaten more missile launches despite the spectacular failure of the one Taepodong-2 missile two days ago. The Bush administration responded by noting that the missiles have shown themselves as no threat to the US and refuses to give in to extortion:

The Bush administration on Thursday dismissed North Korea’s threat to test-fire more missiles and pressed for international efforts to get the secretive communist regime to “cease and desist” such actions.

“We’re certainly not going to overreact ... to these wild statements out of Pyongyang and North Korea,” said Undersecretary R. Nicholas Burns. “We’ve seen them before.”

The North Korean Foreign Ministry, in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, insisted that the communist state had the right to missile tests and argued the weapons were needed for defense. ...

The South Korean press was reporting Thursday that the North had three or four short- or medium-range missiles on launch pads ready for firing.

Incompetence in Pyongyang's missile production provides one reason why we feel comfortable referring the matter to multilateral diplomacy. Indeed, Bush wants to keep other countries front and center for two reasons. Primarily, we cannot be seen to respond to extortion. North Korea wants direct talks with Washington to resolve all of the peninsular issues, but that can't happen while Kim continues to operate his huge counterfeiting operation that produces American currency fakes by the millions. That decision, by the way, was Kim's, not ours. We also cannot unilaterally impose security solutions throughout the region without including the representatives of the other interested states, especially Japan, China, and South Korea. Russia also has some interest in the resolution.

Another reason, though, is the rudimentary missile-defense system we have deployed in the region. It has had its share of difficulties, but the technology continues to improve. This system exists only because the Bush administration took missile proliferation seriously and abandoned the anachronistic anti-ballistic missile treaty that kept only the US and Russia locked out of defending themselves from nutcases like Kim Jong-Il. It should have been abandoned after the fall of the Soviet Union and the first inklings of ICBM development in states like Iran and North Korea, but even the post-9/11 withdrawal from the ABM treaty caused a firestorm of controversy. The world press castigated Bush as a "bull in a china shop" and labeled it a "betrayal of humankind’s best hopes".

The Washington Examiner picks up on this thread in today's editorial:

As they debate and discuss various options at the United Nations and in capitals around the globe, the rudimentary U.S. missile defense system is poised to shoot down anything launched from North Korea that threatens the American homeland or the critical interests of our regional allies like Japan and Australia.

Noticeably absent are the voices of those who, since President Reagan first proposed such a system in 1984, have fought development and deployment of the missile defense system the U.S. must now depend upon in dealing with North Korea. These folks have claimed over and over that the system they derisively call “Star Wars” can’t possibly work, would be too expensive, would incite a new world arms race, etc., etc. Names that come to mind in this regard include senators like Joe Biden, D-Del., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., and the Clinton-Gore administration that delayed and dilly-dallied with work on missile defense for most of the ’90s. ...

It is a sobering thought to wonder how much more secure the United States and its allies would be today in the face of madness like North Korea’s launches if instead of a limited defense still in development we could depend upon the robust protection first proposed many years ago.

The arms race continued regardless of the existence of the ABM treaty. In fact, this mirrors the curious denial we experienced about the rise of Islamofascist terror. We willfully ignored evidence that we would soon require a missile shield in the actions of Iran and North Korea, relying on the Chinese to defend us against the latter through economic and diplomatic pressure rather than preparing our own defenses. Politicians like Joe Biden -- who wants to run for President in 2008 -- scolded Bush for finally recognizing that we had left ourselves vulnerable to nuclear extortion:

I am deeply concerned that unilateral action on national missile defense, and walking away from a treaty that has helped keep the peace for 30 years, may unleash a dangerous, new arms race. If the price of rushing forward with an unproven missile defense program is proliferation of nuclear weapons in China, the consequent ratcheting up of missile production by India and Pakistan, then the United States and the world will be less secure, not more secure.

Thanks to George Bush, and no thanks to Joe Biden and his cohorts, we have at least some defense against the North Korean threat and do not need to appease a master manipulator. If we had not listened to Biden, Bill Clinon, Madeline Albright, and the Democrats during the 1980s and 1990s, we may have already developed a comprehensive defense against nutcases with ICBMs and have them deployed to protect our allies as well. We should remember this during these midterms and in 2008.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 6, 2006 8:03 AM

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» UNsurprised from Ninth State
The rest of the world is, understandably, concerned about this, but apparently not enough to agree to do something about it. Once again, I get the feeling that this is an issue that could be solved relatively easily if there wasn’t so much bick... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2006 10:32 AM

» It's Chess from Hard Starboard
Another provocation is the virtually unreported monetary war the NoKos are waging against us: North Korea wants direct talks with Washington to resolve all of the peninsular issues, but that can't happen while Kim continues to operate his huge cou... [Read More]

Tracked on July 10, 2006 2:10 AM


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