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Iraq and North Korea(19 posts)

Iraq and North KoreaMJ
Dec 12, 2002 5:28 AM
so Iraq says it doesn't have any WMD's and regime change is still on the agenda - it seems the US/UK have itchy trigger fingers regardless of any UN inspections or even reading the 12,000 page report

at the same time North Korea (who have missile capability to boot) are publicly stating that they are going to reactivate their nukes programme - yet nobody is jumping up and down about NK and its 'leader' demanding regime change etc.

why the difference? is it only oil? is it pick the battle you can win?

BTW I posted links from the Guardian and the NY Times so all you Guardian haters can amuse yourselves by pointing out all the inaacuracies...,2763,858721,00.html
Finally! a peaceful topic.Sintesi
Dec 12, 2002 6:07 AM
Man! the board is getting lively. i haven't read the articles yet but this exactly the qyestion I'm most interested in right now. I'll check it out and chime in later.
My guess at the major difference in...Wayne
Dec 12, 2002 6:22 AM
the situation is simple. China!
I don't doubt our military could do the same thing to N. Korea as they did to Iraq in the Gulf war. But you bring China into it and you introduce the real threat of a knockdown/drag-out fight with the possibility of nukes being used!
My guess at the major difference in...MJ
Dec 12, 2002 6:28 AM
which is a valid concern - does that ultimately mean pick the battles you can win?

does that make the Bush/Blair rhetoric seem a bit hollow and wasted? - they're happy to pick on the little guy (Saddam) who is not posing a threat to anyone (except those likely to be sent to change his regime) except other Iraqis while not dealing with a very real, genuine and acknowledged threat?

is the lesson you can have WMD if you are really dangerous but not if you are just a little dangerous?
The B & B rhetoric has seemed hollow &Wayne
Dec 12, 2002 6:51 AM
wasted to me all along. But it's working, I guess. Seems like any pro-war people on the talk shows i see are equating removing Saddam with fighting terrorism.
so thenMJ
Dec 12, 2002 7:04 AM
are the pro-war people really ust pro-propoganda people if they are willing to overlook NK?

it's sort of like screaming about arresting someone for jaywalking when someone has just admitted to murder...

(agreed it's been hollow the whole way through)
Yeah, that sounds about right...Wayne
Dec 12, 2002 7:12 AM
and the jaywalker really has no friends and will have to rely on a public defender, whereas the murderer (while still devoid of friends) does have a big high-power attorney who is willing to take on the case!
Well what are you supposed to do?Sintesi
Dec 12, 2002 7:24 AM
Pick battles you have a strong chance of losing? Isn't this fear what kept the peace between the West and the USSR during the cold war? War is not meant to be a fair fight.

The lesson that seems to be taught is if you are a brutal dictator and get your hands on a nuke you become untouchable. There are other factors here tho, for one So. Korea our ally and the party that has the most at stake in this supposed conflict is opposed to US attack or, in their eyes, unprovoked aggression.

There is an irony here in that the Koreas officially stopped their fighting when Ike let it be known that he was intending to start using A bombs in the Korean war. China an N. Korea stopped cold.
it's spinMJ
Dec 12, 2002 7:37 AM
to say that WMD's won't be tolerated in the hands of rogue states - perhaps the following footnote should be added:

"Rogue states are allowed to have WMD's except for countries where it is easy to force a regime change. Where regime change is not easy to bring about we'll overlook the problem."

Cold War was mutually assured destruction and therefore I think it's a bit different. Rogue states like NK can't assure MAD with WMD's - just a significant threat/body count - nobody can compete with the US military.

Is the idea that the world will be a safer place if NK has nukes but Saddam isn't allowed any?

Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries are US allies and are opposed to conflict. How is that different than Korea?

Wasn't it Macarthur who threatened to use nukes in 1951? Following his outburst he was removed from command by Ike and the front stabilised (fighting continued) at the 51st parallel for the next two years.
Yeah the US is inconsitent.Sintesi
Dec 12, 2002 8:52 AM
Well there is always spin, but I think it's fairly obvious that the US is afraid to tangle with NK because they could really hurt a large number of our people. Also Japan is involved as well; they had a missile launched over them not too long ago. Did you know the Clinton admin came this close (agent 99) to taking military action against NK because of it's nuke program? It was Nobel prize winner Jimmy Carter who intervened (unasked, he just wanted to avaid conflict) and help broker a deal for building those reactors the US supposedly reneged on? I think the US has been wanting NK for awhile and really regrets not taking action earlier. (BTW...I hate having to refer to the US as a monolithic entity like some big thinking moral being. It's not. It's a confab of individuals with different philosophies, different circumstances all thinking and acting differently at different times.)

I'm dropping the M from MAD. It's just Assured Destruction now. It's a ploy to ensure US security by making potential enemies terrified of us. I think it would chill any dictators plans if he bought into it that is. If NK nukes say Seoul then isn't Pongyang bye bye? It's basically the same psychology. Saddam would be just one less nut with the means. My fear is (and it's the same fear we've been living under for the last 50 years) is that someone may one day call that bluff (NK?) and we may have crawled out to far on that ladder to get back down. It's a risk that puts millions of lives at stake. But it's also a damn effective policy and the argument is out there that millions of lives have been saved due to this policy because of the wars prevented. It's like this: if the bomb drops it's a terrible misguided policy. If the bomb doesn't drop then it's a policy of genius. They have a 57 year track record so far but you only have to slip once. The only way around it is to not have nukes, which in today's climate is impossible. Really, now that I think about it, the only way to get rid of nukes is to have a worldwide climate where everyone's needs and desires are met and we all pray to the same god or have the same idealogy. So it does appear like we are going to live (sic) with a holocaust or two in the not too distant future.

I think BUSH & CO. feel they can bully the Saudis into submission, either that or they want Saddam so bad they aren't going to let the Arab world spoil the party. You're not accusing the US of being inconsistent are you? The US has never been afraid of being total bastards has it? The saving grace is that I believe that the US usually acts in the best interests of all involved. Usually. I mean freedom, democracy and opportunity isn't just hollow crap. I believe we're good guys.

Sometimes I am SUCH an apologist. Sorry. Also sorry for being such a windbag.

Finally, all I remember from history class is that MacArthur was dismissed for making unauthorized statements and not following orders from Truman. Nukes I don't know.
Eisenhower supposedly let it be leaked to a Bangladeshi Diplomat that the US was bringing in tactical nukes into the conflict. Ike had such clout the Chinese and NK absolutely thought he'd do it. I think he probably would have too.
I doubt a fight in NK would be "as easy" as one in Iraq...PdxMark
Dec 12, 2002 10:27 AM
The Iraqi deserts are almost ideally suited to the armored continental war machine we built to defend against the Warsaw Pact. Masses of modern heavy armor roaring across open ground are a stunningly powerful force, especially when coupled with complete air superiority.

In contrast, North Korea is described as "mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east." No masses of armor roaring anywhere. With lots of hilltops and ridges for anti-armor forces. Just like what USSR faced in Afghanistan. Not a pretty picture.

So, I doubt we can win in NK the way we can in Iraq.

Which then means we choose to pick the fights that we can win. No serious hypocrisy in that, just a quiet acceptance of the limits of what we can do.
You two are arguing "givens".eyebob
Dec 12, 2002 8:34 AM
The US has too much invested in the Mid East not to take out Saddam. There would never have been a build up of forces there without the idea that in some manner or fashion we're going in. I don't necessarily agree with the stance but that's fact. So throw out most of the rational argument that you both validly make for why we shouldn't take out Iraq and not North Korea. There is also no doubt that Bush's Admin is saavy enough to use this topic for poliital gain (war with Iraq) which is why, again, it's going to happen despite a thin argument for it. Saddam is scum and should not be in power but the US made a mistake (again strickly speaking from an operations stand-point) in bringing in the UN because they now run the show. IMO, if the US wanted to fun it's war on terror as stated by Bush then he should have never pleaded his case to the UN.

Bottom line, it is "spin" and we should all stop trying to rationalize the behavior. It's sort of like trying to understand the behavior of someone with mental disease or alcoholism. The sane and "dry" shake their heads at the behavior but that's because we don't have the problem. The US now has a problem (albeit of it's own making) that it cannot get out from behind and the decision has already been made to invade.

My question is this. What is the next president going to be left with and how will it be handled? (And who of the current hopefuls is best suited to deal with it. Oh, and do you think that who's best suited to deal with the problem will dominate the next election?) And I don't necessarily mean in two years when the next round of presidential elections comes around. Say, 6 years from now. We will still be dealing with the aftermath of the regime change. Not to over-sensationalize the conflict, but is this going to be a bit like Nixon having to deal with what Johnson left for him? (in terms of the headache, not the actual "war")

Lots to digest in this post. Maybe I should have started another post, huh?

you're rightMJ
Dec 12, 2002 8:45 AM
I suppose the contrasting approach is just too much to pass up - I wonder if the irony is lost on your average Joe in Kansas

funny point re don't rationalise alcoholics etc. hehehe

the next President will be left with a large bill for plugging the power vacuum in C Asia and M East - facts and sensible debate will be pushed under the carpet in pursuit of commercial interests in Iraq - it is the commercial interests who a right wing govt will put their faith in to build a western capitalist system which should negate any need to continue aid - the result will be the west will make a lot of money out of the deal and the ordinary guy in Basra will get screwed by another kind of dictator - the alimghty dollar

western economic models and democracy sell good copy and make good rhetoric for the right but can rarely be applied effectively in undeveloped, non-democratic, fragile countries and economies

the US is currently snookered by UN involvement

dunno who's in the frame for the next round of elections

good questions
Another thought...eyebob
Dec 12, 2002 8:54 AM
From the US's standpoint. Would we be able to afford another "Iraq" (build up, invasion, occupation) in the near future assuming that we do follow through in Iraq? That fact alone may very well dictate what the US does in NK.

Strategic bombing, not invasionCaptain Morgan
Dec 12, 2002 10:34 AM
I think a strategic bombing of nuclear facilities is more probable than a full blown war, similar to what Israel did to Iraq in 1981.
lol - I was 6 minutes too slow nmPdxMark
Dec 12, 2002 10:40 AM
One precedent from Iraq might be applied...PdxMark
Dec 12, 2002 10:40 AM
A targeted air attack against the nuclear facility itself. The Israelis did it - in the 80s? As a joint operation with China, NK might not even lash out. Make sure aircraft/missiles come from any direction BUT the south, or we get a whole new Korean war... though, an attack on a nuke facility might trigger a Korean war anyway. A bigger deal now that SK economy is #13 in the world.

I'm not advocating such an attack, just suggesting it's an alternative with precedent.
Yeah but as you hint at...Wayne
Dec 12, 2002 10:47 AM
the big problem is we have lots of troops at the DMZ and there are lots of SK civilians within striking distance of NK artillery, etc. which is a problem we don't really face in Iraq (they can hardly get a scud to Israel).

And I don't think firing the missles from somewhere other than the South will trick the NK's into thinking somebody other than us did it.
The NK has the decision to makeCaptain Morgan
Dec 12, 2002 11:03 AM
A bombing of one nuclear site would then give NK an option. Any counter attack by them would result in a full blown escalation and hence an ouster of the current regime. Although this is a risk, I don't think he would be stupid enough to take on the world (at least I hope not).