Sunday, March 08, 2009

Shootdown of a North Korean Missile

North Korea's expected launch of a missile or satellite has drawn comments from various quarters about the possibility of shooting it down, if it should pose a threat to the US or Japan.

Since the US says it wants "dialog" with North Korea, the terms under which we would shoot down their missile should be made clear to them, either publicly or privately. But "dialog" has been ongoing for years. Kim Jong Il lied to Madeleine Albright about their nukes and missiles in 2000. And if anyone is going to get out-talked in any discussions, I think I know who that would be. Dialog is a two-edged sword and doesn't necessarily help your own cause. And as John Bolton has pointed out, North Korea will not be talked out of its nuclear program. And beware of "North Korea experts" bearing appeasement.

Hillary Clinton wants dialog with the North. Stephen Bosworth, special rep to North Korea says he wants to do some talking as well, yet he has no current plans to travel to North Korea. Some other time, perhaps. Hillary said he "wasn't invited," raising the question of how you dialog when all you have is a monologue.

North Korea's nukes are for deterrence, international prestige and coercive diplomacy rather than for warfighting--so says Clinton and the latest annual threat assessment of the intelligence community. So then why is Japan so fearful of the impending missile launch? Why are we threatening to shoot it down?

Meanwhile, North Korea counseled against anyone invading "even 0.001mm into our territory" lest they face retaliation. Perhaps this leaves an opening for dialog: can someone invade 0.0001 of their territory with impunity?

The North Koreans view Obama as an "articulate Jimmy Carter," which must be the most terrible insult to be hurled at any president. Pleas for "dialog" and responding to the North's belligerent rhetoric with the use of the laconic mantra "unhelpful" can't possibly change that assessment in their minds.

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