Monday, July 10, 2006

A few words on North Korea

North Korea has nuclear weapons. It has missiles that can reach Japan and South Korea. It's testing missiles that could reach Hawaii or the West Coast. It's a bigger threat to wreak havoc on the U.S. mainland than Saddam Hussein's regime ever was.

Those facts, along with the human and financial toll of the ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq wars, make an invasion impractical and unwise. But they also make inaction foolish.

So what's the answer? One short-term approach could be tactical strikes on future tests of long-range missiles, but that would be a risky prospect. Two defense wonks suggest such a strike could be done with no casualties, but even if that's the case, the result still could be a bloody, all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. As Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh suggests, the wisest long-term solution to the North Korean crisis could well be the same as the long-term solution to the one-time Libyan threat: realpolitik.

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