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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Walter Mondale

Some Democrats, including Walter Mondale, have come out in favor of a missile strike on North Korea's long-range missile presumably sitting on the pad. Is this a good idea?

First, there is a question of whether this missile really exists. The U.S. says it does. Within the past few days, South Korea has said that its intelligence is that a launch is not imminent. I've also read that the fuel that North Korea uses in its missiles is so corrosive that a missile must be launched within a day or two of fueling or else the missile is ruined. Since I don't work at the CIA, I have no idea what is the truth. But that's something to consider.

Second, what kind of missile is this? At the very beginning of this whole issue, I remember hearing that the missile had enough range to "reach the U.S." only in that it could reach parts of Alaska. Now, more recently, I've heard that it has enough range to reach California. What is the truth? If it is the former, then I don't think a strike is warranted. If the latter, then maybe.

The final consideration is what North Korea would do in response. North Korea is in such dire straights that it is hard to see a military response: they probably don't have the capability. On the other hand, North Korea's leader is a crazy person, who is liable to do anything. If I had to wager, I would say that North Korea does nothing in response.

So if the missile is ready to be launched, and if it has enough range to hit a significant portion of the U.S. aside from just Alaska, then I would find a missile strike to be an acceptable strategy given my bet that North Korea would not retaliate in any meaningful way.

The larger question, though, is whether the U.S. will allow other countries to develop long-range missiles. North Korea is an exceptional case because it is universally reviled, but what about other countries? What about our "allies" in the War on Terror like Saudi Arabia? These are tough questions.


At 11:17 AM, June 26, 2006, Anonymous Victoria said...

Wait, it's worth protecting California but not Alaska? What do you have against Huskies?

On a more serious note: I think the most important question here is "the endgame." What's the endgame? What happens - not just with North Korea, but with the rest of the world, if we strike? What do we want to have happen? How are we going to engineer that outcome? How would that affect other foreign and military policy choices?


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