Sunday, June 25, 2006

What About Kim Jong Il?

I got into a conversation at the gym today on the subject of Kim Jong Il and his proposed missile test. It was started by the wacko suggestion, mooted by William Perry and Ashton Carter, that if they do appear to be going to fire the thing, the U.S. should pre-emptively bomb the launch site and destroy it and the missile. The rationale seems to be that the U.S. shouldn't allow North Korea to develop a long range missile with which it could conceivably fire a nuclear missile at U.S. territory. My gym mate asked what I thought we should do, and my answer was, we should do nothing. We absolutely should not shoot at the thing.

Consider Kim Jong Il, if you can. There are a number of things we aren't sure of about him and his country, starting with do they actually have nuclear weapons and is the Taepodong-2 missile as good as they say it is. The one thing we are sure of is that this guy is a complete wingnut, and one of the ways he stays in power is by waving around the threat that the U.S. wants to invade North Korea. The last thing we should do is give him any support for that notion. The U.S. wouldn't have North Korea if they gave it away with a pound of tea; but of course Kim doesn't think that way. If we shoot at his missile, we've confirmed every paranoid fantasy he's ever had. No.

I've also heard an unnamed genius from the Pentagon say he's "very confident" that if North Korea does fire the missile, U.S. interceptor rockets can destroy it. Is he talking about our missile defence system? The one that's never had a successful intercept, even when we staged the whole test and in essence told it where to point? This is a really bad idea - we absolutely don't want to give the world the notion that if they shoot stuff at us, we can't take it down. Maybe he was talking about the Patriot, which actually did shoot down some incoming during the first Gulf War, although if you look at the analysis, the actual success rate is very unclear and depends strongly on who's counting.

Clearly, our best possible response is not to dignify the effort with a response,
as my mother used to say, but just keep encouraging the North Koreans back to the six-way talks.


  1. Anonymous7:03 AM

    North Korea's posturing must be providing some focused interested on Roi-Namur. This is the motu in Kwajalein Atoll that houses the US's super radar. It is used, for one thing, to track missiles shot off from Vandenburg Air Base. Take a look at a globe, note the location of Kwaj in relationship to Vandenburg, and ask yourself what else they can track.

  2. Anonymous9:41 AM

    Why do we get to decide whether of not a country can develop weapon systems? Don't get me wrong, I don't want a nut case to have weapons that could hit us either, but who elected us the weapon sheriff of the world? Aren't we always saying no one has the right to tell US what to do?
    This kind of hypocrisy is driving me nuts.

    I worry our government actually thinks we have some kind of divine right to rule the world. Some weird new form of Manifest Destiny.

  3. Stephen, it's been driving me nuts for years. We had some moral standing in telling other countries not to develop nukes when we were actively working toward disarmament, but Dubya blew that off some time ago. Now we're just bullies who threaten other people, and make it clear that only our friends (Pakistan, India) can have nukes.

  4. So, do I get to say "I told you so"?? The threatening North Korean missile barely got off the launch pad. If we'd bombed the launch pad, we'd never have known how bad it was, we'd still be worrying that they had something capable of hitting Alaska. They're working on something capable of hitting Alaska, true; but they haven't got it yet.

  5. Anonymous7:56 PM

    And Kimmie Boy is just telling Georgie Boy to go fuck himself, and Georgie Boy, who lacks the common sense God promised a brass billy goat, can't do a damned thing about it, not that anything really needs to be done anyway. Kimmie Boy isn't going to attack anyone. He just doesn't want to be attacked like Iraq was. It ain't any more complicated than that, just a W's motivations and thinking processes also aren't any more complicated than the design of a coat hanger. It's Bozo v. Bozo on a very big stage.

    Anonymous David

  6. I was listening today to "On the Media" on NPR, and they were commenting on the recent Larry King exclusive interview with Bozo (sorry, Shrubya) - some kind of 60th birthday celebration, I guess. Larry King asked him about the whole New York Times flap and all he'd say was, "but we're at war, ya know, and we shouldn't tell the enemy our game plan..."

    I keep thinking of Molly Ivins' immortal line about another Texas politician: "If his IQ was any lower, we'd have to water him twice a week." I love that woman.

  7. Anonymous5:42 AM

    Molly is an honest-to-god national treasure.

    I see our single-digit-iq C in C's
    Japanese bud is considering strikes against North Korea. Can't decide whether it's just for domestic Japanese consumption or whether Koizo's been staring at his own navel too much.

    Anonymous David

  8. I missed Koizumi's latest little weirdness on Yahoo News; no wait, there it is. By gum, he is talking about it.

    Do remember, this is the guy who keeps visiting the Yasukuni Shrine even when he gets knocked for it; also the first Japanese premier to send soldiers to a war zone since Tojo. There's a nationalist buried in there, and not very deep either.

    The only good news is that they're still arguing over whether their constitution would permit them to do it.