Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The New Klingons Part IV: Iran, Syria and North Korea

When George W. Bush declared in his 2002 State of the Union address that there was an "axis of evil," the phrase may have been original, but the sentiment wasn't. All you needed to do was look on page 4 of the position paper "Rebuilding America's Defenses" published in 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, that group of ex-Cold Warriors who believed the U.S. could -- and should -- dominate the world:
Potential rivals such as China are anxious to exploit these transformational technologies broadly, while adversaries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are rushing to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent to American intervention in regions they seek to dominate.
That these people are dictating foreign policy should have been scary enough for America to evict them from the halls of power (which, of course, we didn't, figuring that it was more important to keep the country safe from godless gay marriages). But not only are these people filled with hubris, they are also filled with a lousy military awareness. For example, on page 9, the signatories pooh-pooh the prevailing Pentagon plans of the time as to what it would take to go up against a freewheeling Iraq, as in 1991:
For example, the analyses done of the requirement to defeat an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia almost certainly overestimates the level of force required.
Which was one of the reasons the most respected military minds in the country warned George W. Bush against trying to conquer Iraq with only 135,000 troops. But that same document emphasizes the maniac mantra that these nations are about to unleash a nuclear holocaust on the motherland (page 67):
[A]ccording to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria -- already have or are developing ballistic missiles, that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad. And one, North Korea, is on the verge of deploying missiles that can hit the American homeland. Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace.
On page 87 we read:
We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered.
Forgetting that "the America peace" has been largely accomplished by American exploitation, the more fundamental question is: Are these states threatening the American homeland? Here in the wilderness, we have no idea. Why would they even want to threaten the American homeland? We have no idea either. Those of us in the wilderness who have lived through the Cold War, when we were told daily that the Soviets and the Chinese were determined to land their hordes at our shores and abolish baseball to serve their fiendish ends, tend to be a little skeptical.

In the case of Korea we are dealing with a paranoid dictator, yes, who may still want to unite the Korean peninsula by force, a desire that launched the Korean War. A little background: Like Vietnam, the Korean peninsula was divided among pro-West (south) and pro-Soviet (north) factions after World War II, following the Soviet army's occupation of the northern part of Japanese-controlled Korea. Having won World War II, the U.S. was already fighting the Cold War and didn't want Korea "going communist" (read: cutting us investment and resource acquisition). America called for elections in the south and backed the right-wing anticommunist Syngman Rhee. The Soviets held elections in the north and backed their guy, Kim Il Sung. Surprisingly, both won easily.

By the time the division of Korea at the 38th parallel became official in the winter of 1948, both sides were openly braying that military force would be the only way to unify the country. The north launched a preemptive invasion in 1950 and, aided later by China, fought the U.S.-backed south for four years. No armistice was ever signed, and the U.S. maintains a huge military presence in Korea, something that alarms the present government, according to the
Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Ted Turner-established think tank:

There are different schools of thought on the motivations for Pyongyang's ballistic missile program. Those who believe North Korea is a revisionist state argue that Pyongyang's motivations are malign and constitute a serious external threat. This school of thought has ample evidence to support its claims: North Korea's initiation of the Korean War, acts of terrorism, forward-deployed military forces, a constitution that states that the DPRK is the sole legitimate government for all of Korea, and Korean Workers Party bylaws calling for a "completion of the revolution in the south."

On the other hand, some believe North Korea is a state satisfied with the status quo and that it seeks peaceful coexistence with South Korea and the international community. Proponents of this school often argue that North Korea's motivations for developing missiles are defensive in nature and designed to deter external threats to the DPRK. Evidence to support this argument includes the July 4 North-South Joint Communiqué of 1972; the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between North and South Korea of 1991 (the so-called "Basic Agreement"); the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula of 1991; the summit meeting of 2000; the Agreed Framework with the United States; and reunification proposals that would recognize "two systems" for the north and south. However, critics argue that Pyongyang's behavior is inconsistent and that this evidence is not credible.

Mostly, what Korea does with its missiles is sell them to other countries, most noticeably Iran and, formerly, Iraq. This, of course, has convinced the New Klingons in the Project for the New American Century that the two are in cahoots to take over the world. Iran has, in fact, been developing a nuclear industry, under the radar of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which convinced the New Klingons that their intentions are malignant, despite their claims. Iran denies this, saying their program is for peaceful uses. Bull, says the United States; you have all that oil; you're developing nukes to extend your power all over the Persian Gulf (and preventing us from acquiring any more). And what's worse, your missiles can reach Israel. Ah, yes. The elephant in the living room.

Next: The New Klingons and Israel

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