Thursday, October 05, 2006

The appropriate time for fighting words

is not now.

Fighting words should be reserved for those rarest of situations, when we are about ready to strike with military force. For such a situation to materialize, two conditions both have been met. The first condition is that the crisis is so grave that an armed response is absolutely necessary. The second is that we are capable of dealing with the full repercussions of our attack and are prepared to follow it out to an appropriate conclusion.

In other words, a nation must never attack unless it has no other option, and a nation must never attack if it doesn't know it can win the ensuing conflict - and pyrrhic victories are not satisfactory conclusions.

"North Korea must choose either to have a future or to have nuclear weapons "but it cannot have them both", top US negotiator Christopher Hill said." (BBC)

I'm really not thrilled that North Korea is going to test a nuke. But it doesn't make any sense to speak in threatening language. Consider the two possible scenarios:

1) The US is prepared to launch a military strike, and this is our warning.
This is stupid. We're going to go and attack a nuclear armed nation? Smart. And then what, when the North Koreans retaliate (hopefully in a conventional way)? Escalate the war? Invade? Nuke? Get out of here, these are all shitty options. America should not be responsible for starting a war.

2) The US is not going to launch a military strike, but is rattling its sabers.
Then why the fighting words? Hey, I don't know if anyone noticed, but Kim is one of those leaders that doesn't seem to care about the welfare of his people. He isn't going to back down to US military threats. So making such threats only makes negotiation with him (which is hard enough) even more difficult.

Everyone needs to relax. At the end of the day, we all knew North Korea had nukes. And North Korea is still more rational / deterrable / negotiable than the Iranians are. If North Korea tests its nukes, all its going to do is strengthen our diplomatic position and weaken NK's. If we attack them, the opposite is true. Let Kim test his nuke, and then watch the world stand with America in its strategy of containment, isolation, and sanctions. Eventually NK will crumble. Its a proven strategy. Look at the Soviet Union - did we ever attack them?

And, god forbid, if North Korea ever uses its weapons...nobody can say we didn't try. We can unleash everything we have and ensure the complete destruction of the North Korean government, and we'll have the moral high ground and the backing of the world in doing so.

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