Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Another Fine Mess

I caught myself this morning wondering--with a heavy dose of guilt, Bush--whether it might not have been better for your predecessor in office to carry through with his tentative attack plans, on North Korea, in 1994, rather than be deterred by former President Jimmy Carter's well-intentioned personal intervention at the time, which led to the compromise of accepting promises that everyone knew, presumably, would be broken. Then I realized of course that what I was entertaining was nothing short of a "preemptive" strike not dissimilar from the one that led you into Iraq: we were dealing with a vicious, and possibly insane dictator who was giddily slaughtering all those who dared to disagree with him, and even those who didn't; with supposed weapons of mass destruction--nuclear, biological, and chemical (how sure were we at the time, twelve years ago, that Kim Jong Il already possessed these in his arsenal? I don't know); and with the fear that he would pass these weapons along to terrorists.

I'm wondering, too, to what extent your misadventure in Iraq has encouraged countries like North Korea and Iran in their weapons programs? It may be, on the one hand--having been identified by you, Bush, along with Iraq, as a part of the "axis of evil"--that they are genuinely concerned for their security against invasion, and justify their acquisition of weapons in that light. It may be, too, that they have watched the U.S. military expend a good deal of its potential in Iraq, to little avail, and are encouraged to believe that they, too, can face down even this powerful enemy with a little defiance and deterrent. Whatever the reason, both these countries seem well down the path toward the nuclear nightmare.

So far as North Korea is concerned, it seems clear that we're trying to play the conventional diplomatic games with a man who is totally contemptuous of them. The six-nation option, as I understand it, is now exhausted; and, having demanded bi-lateral talks with the U.S., and now on the verge, perhaps, of getting them, the North Koreans could well end up rewarding us by spitting in our eye. If the only danger were aggression on their part, we could perhaps leave the region and let all the parties stew in their own juice. But my understanding is that aggression is not the only, nor the most immediate danger. The greater threat, by far, is that this Beloved Leader will, in desperation, in the face of economic disaster, turn to selling his weaponry to the highest bidder--a far greater and certainly more immediate threat than the one you attributed to Saddam.

So how do you talk to someone bent on thumbing his nose at you? It might have been easier, Bush, had you not verbally humiliated him some time ago. This man is not one to readily swallow an insult or bury a grudge. And with the example of your failed aggression in Iraq, you've handed this monster almost all the cards. You can't even credibly use play that pre-emptive strike card again, since all the world, including doubtless Kim Jong Il, knows to what extent American military might has been depleted. And besides, this particular dictator is far better armed, and far better prepared to defend and retaliate than Saddam ever was. Aside from the certainty of his possessing weapons of mass destruction of all kinds, this guy has a huge army and special forces which, by all accounts, put Saddam's Republican Guards to shame.

All of which leads me back to a point I've made countless times in the past: we need a new paradigm, Bush. The old paradigm of saber-rattling and the threat of war doesn't cut it any more. It's simply irrelevant to our predicament these days. Just like your energy plan, which notably avoids addressing the central problem facing the world today, and instead perpetuates the old, irrelevant thinking that got us into this trouble in the first place, your "foreign policy" is beside the point. Who was it I was quoting a few weeks ago? Damn it, Bush, I forget. My memory is not serving me as it used to. But I remember clearly enough what it was he said: there is no "foreign policy" any more. The world is already too small. It's not about nations. It's all about the globe.

1 comment:

dennis said...

..a new paradigm. yes, Peter. I recently asked a few young friends if they thought our governmental system is working. Each time, I got a resounding, immediate, and emphatic No!
Men like Bush/Cheney can still take power and do terrible things and make mistakes we can no longer live with. The inescapable conclusion is that this republican system is outmoded, antiquated. It needs modification. Simplification. Clarity. Society here needs fundamental change.
The horrific thought is however, what it is going to take to force that change?