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       Tuesday, June 20, 2006

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Kim Jong Il's Countdown Clock is Ticking

As Kim Jong Il appears prepared to launch a missile, ostensibly as a test, the Pentagon says it's ready.
The United States has moved its ground-based interceptor missile defense system from test mode to operational amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a Washington Times report that the Pentagon has activated the system, which has been in the developmental stage for years.

"It's good to be ready," the official said.

Well, depends on what you mean by "ready". There have been some encouraging tests, but very few of them. Then again, this is just one missile, which should make things a little bit easier to be "ready" for.

Still, if North Korea had a nuclear payload on this missile, what should we do about it? Even if it's just a dud, but this test moves them forward technologically towards a Taepodong-3, which could hit all of the continental US, what should we be doing? Or should be sitting back and just watching it?

The doctrine of pre-emption, those who are for it and those who are against it, faces a big test right now. Even though the Taepodong-2 that is being fueled could hit Alaska, Hawaii and parts of California, I don't really think this is going to be aimed at any of those places. And yet, it has the capability. We have a few options available to us:

Destroy it on the ground: We could launch a strike against the missile even before it launches. Robbing them of the entire test would ensure they got nothing out of it.

This comes with a potentially big PR hit, most likely, ironically, from Jimmy Carter who trusted the North Koreans enough to bribe them with food so they wouldn't build the nukes they say they now have.

Intercept it in the air: As the anonymous source suggests, the Pentagon is "ready" to do this if need be.

On the upside, if it works it would potentially demoralize the North Korean military and push out any potential aggression on their part until perhaps they felt they could deal with interception. On the downside, it may tip our defensive hand to those taking notes. Also on the downside, the intercept may fail, which would be more of a blow to us than if the missile were allowed to just land in the ocean.

Do nothing: We could just watch it, and hope it isn't an attack. The North Koreans get valuable data to advance their own weapons program.

If it does hit something, I imagine the Left would be outraged at Kim for a while, until Cynthia McKinney suggested that Bush knew it was an attack all along, and John Murtha suggests leaving South Korea. If it doesn't hit anything, it it's truly a test, then it simply hastens the day when North Korea can put out a threat that covers 50 states instead of just 2.

It goes without saying that I'm glad I'm not the President. Not only is this an issue of national security, but it will be made a political football by his opposition when politics should be the last thing on their minds. As I said, I'm not fearful that this is anything more than just a test firing. But at the same time, it's a step--a big step--down a road. Which direction that step is depends on decisions made in the next 72 hours or so.

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.

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posted by Doug at 11:07 AM  


jeremy33 said...

Why are we just sitting back and watching them develop the ability to threaten our homeland, when they have clearly stated that is there intention!!! I'm not worried about this single test, I am terrified of what the future holds if we just sit here say how much we condemn what they are doing but in all actuality, just let it happen!

12:19 PM  
Troy Browning said...

Jeremy, don’t get caught up in the politics of fear. That is exactly why we’re in the mess we’re in. (Say thank you George Bush….) The history books will show, if we survive so long, that the biggest misstep ever taken by a President of the United States was putting into practice the doctrine of Preemption. The “get them, before they get us” mentality can have only one ending…. A bad one you don’t want to think about, I’m sure. But that is exactly the road George Bush has taken us down. It is George Bush who created a hit list of countries, and then proceeded to tick them off the list. Is it any wonder the so-called Axis-of-Evil is preparing them selves for the preemptive invasion to come? Is it any wonder that the nations of the world are quickly forming mutual defense alliances to protect against the truly menacing global nuclear threat and aggressor in the world today – the United States?

I often hear people say that we need a strong leader, and that is why we need George Bush in the White House. And indeed he is a strong leader. But unfortunately, he is leading us to destruction. Leadership is a funny thing. People tend to follow. And when you lead people to aggression, or war, as this President has done, it tends to beget more aggression and more war. So the simple solution is this: we need a leader in peace. Peace will beget peace. And the man to lead us in peace is not George Bush.

Yes…we should step down, and let reasonable minds prevail.

1:33 PM  
ModerateinIL said...

Troy...I can respect what you say...but please hear me out. We did NOT do a preemptive attack againsta al Qaeda and they took out our towers, the pentagon, our planes and our citizens. With nuke happy countries like Iran and North Korea, who say they WANT to nuke the US, you propose we just let them do it? I am not on board for that. What would people say about George Bush if he did nothing in Iraq and they actually had nukes and used them. What would he go down in history as then? You can't have it both ways. We were lucky in a way, that Iraq did not end up having nukes, as they would have used them. I truly think that George Bush just ended up being the president at the wrong time in history. No matter what he did or doesn't do, it will be politicized by the democrats as they want the power in the US. So, I am tired of hearing all the political stuff. Facts are facts. Bush is a strong leader. I am not saying he is perfect, but he is a strong leader. I would rather him be proactive and not inactive. Given the situation, I belive that if we had a democratic president, they (meaning the president AND congress) would have acted the exact same way. It is just that Bush was in the chair during this time in history.

2:38 PM  
Doug said...

Because really, Kim Jong Il really just wants to give peace a chance.


And of course calling the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire" caused nukes to be launched.


And if we would just not speak so harshly, North Korea's government would be a whole lot nicer to everyone, including the people they've been treating so well already.


2:53 PM  
Troy Browning said...

Doug, words are powerful things. If I tell you, in response to your comments, to “take a Val and shut up, because you’re sounding like a hysterical woman,” you probably would take offense and have some choice words to fire back in exchange. Of course, I would never seriously say something so inflammatory, or rude. But even the thought has raised your blood pressure a notch or two, I’ll bet. Such is the power of words. And yes, the wars launched by this President have come first in words, and then in deeds. How could Korea NOT take seriously our threats of nuclear attack with two sovereign nations already invaded and occupied by the United States?

I do not believe Kim Jon Il is irrational. I believe he is very rationally responding to a stated threat to his country’s national security, just as we, and every other rational national leader would. Do I believe Kim Jong Il wants to give peace a chance? He has so far. Ask yourself, “What changed in the world over the past 6-years?”

Has calling the Soviet Union (Russia) an “Evil Empire” caused nukes to be launched? Not yet…. But Dick Cheney’s recent comments while in that country did cause Russia to begin a massive new investment in research and deployment of next generation nuclear weapons systems, and establishment of a Eurasian mutual defense pact – possibly the start of the Second Cold War!

Such is the power of words, Doug. So yes, we need to shut up and mind our own business for a while. I’ll remind you, the first Cold War was won by tearing down walls, not by building them.

3:37 PM  
Doug said...

The wall was torn down only after we stopped being afraid of the Soviet Union and stood up to them.

Your worry over Cheney's remarks reminds me of those on the left who trembled when they thought Reagan was taking us closer and closer to the nuclear brink, only to be shown that we were actually further than we'd ever been. History's lessons have been lost on you.

Jimmy Carter tried it your way, giving food as a bribe to stop Kim's nuke program. It didn't work and we're paying the price for that today. Kim went ahead got nukes anyway, not needing any "axis of evil" words to take that step, and making Carter out for a fool. Contrary to your narrow view of history (which, by the way, didn't suddenly begin when Dubya took office), this has been building for far, far longer than 6 years. Kim hasn't ever given peace a chace. He's been preparing for war ever since Carter let him. If you think Kim a better leader than Bush, I'd suggest you interview one of his subjects.

My blood pressure's fine, Troy. Thanks for your concern. But if you think the world's going to just leave us all alone if we just shut up and sit here, you may be suffering from unnaturally low blood pressure. It's time to see the world as it is.

4:51 PM  

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