Korea is Iraq Spelled Backwards


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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t8-1.mcbone.net (62.104.210.78) on Saturday, January 04, 2003 at 11:36AM :

Inter Press Service News Agency
Jan 04, 2003 16:08


"But most harmful, perhaps, is the lesson to be drawn from these two crises by countries that do not wish to be cowed by Washington: if you are militarily strong, preferably armed with nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, like Kim Jong Il, you are safe. If you are militarily weak, like Saddam Hussein, you are in trouble.

Or, as 'New York Times' columnist Paul Krugman put it Friday: ''The best self-preservation strategy for Mr Kim is to be dangerous.

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POLITICS-U.S.:
Korea is Iraq Spelled Backwards

Analysis - By Jim Lobe

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be green with envy. Not only has North Korean President Kim Jong Il eclipsed him in the U.S. mass media, but his fellow evil-doer in the infamous ''axis of evil'' is also defying the world's dominant power on a daily basis, and getting away with it.
After all, dozens of U.N. weapons inspectors are crawling all over Iraq without the slightest hindrance, scouring the country for evidence of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Despite such cooperation, U.S. President George W Bush threatens war to ''liberate'' Baghdad virtually every day.

How does this square with his kid-gloves treatment of Pyongyang, which Washington believes already has chemical, biological and as many as two nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them as far away as Japan and even Hawaii?

WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (IPS) -

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be green with envy.

Not only has North Korean President Kim Jong Il eclipsed him in the U.S. mass media, but his fellow evil-doer in the infamous ''axis of evil'' is also defying the world's dominant power on a daily basis, and getting away with it.

After all, dozens of U.N. weapons inspectors are crawling all over Iraq without the slightest hindrance, scouring the country for evidence of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Despite such cooperation, U.S. President George W Bush threatens war to ''liberate'' Baghdad virtually every day.

How does this square with his kid-gloves treatment of Pyongyang, which Washington believes already has chemical, biological and as many as two nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them as far away as Japan and even Hawaii?

Kim expels the remaining two U.N. inspectors from its territory, starts firing up the Yongbyon nuclear plant that already houses enough plutonium to produce half a dozen more atomic weapons in two months, warns it may soon withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Bush responds by insisting that Pyongyang need not fear military action by the United States.

Not only that. Bush is facing growing pressure both from his closest Asian allies to go back on his pledge not to ''negotiate'' with Pyongyang, as the North is demanding, until it dismantles all of its nuclear programmes. And there are already indications that his administration is figuring out possible forums in which such a dialogue could take place.

But with respect to Iraq, Bush contemptuously rejects similar pleas by Washington's Arab allies for patience and engagement, and appears bent -- not to say obsessed -- instead on pursuing a military solution, unilaterally if necessary.

Indeed, Washington's Asian allies, particularly South Korea where it has stationed thousands of troops for a half-century, are defying Washington directly, as both that country's outgoing and incoming presidents did this past week by publicly denouncing Washington's efforts to isolate Pyongyang.

By contrast, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and other Muslim states around Iraq grumble publicly about the direction Washington is taking the region while assuring Bush privately that, when push comes to shove, they will cooperate with U.S. war plans.

And while the Bush administration has done everything it can - unsuccessfully -- to link Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda and thus bolster its case that whatever weapons of mass destruction he still has could be transferred to terrorists for use against U.S. targets, it does not even mention the possibility that North Korea may be a much stronger candidate for supplying weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda.

After all, North Korea, whose possession of such weapons and past resort to terrorist methods are beyond dispute, has a long history of close cooperation with Pakistan's defence establishment, which reportedly provided some of its nuclear secrets in exchange for North Korean missiles.

Moreover, some of the scientists and military sponsors in Pakistan's nuclear programme are known to have backed the Taliban in Afghanistan and to have pro-Qaeda views. So why should Saddam be singled out for suspicion, as opposed to the Pyongyang-Pakistan axis?

It all seems so unfair.

But if Saddam Hussein may be green with envy about Kim Jong Il, Bush himself -- and the hawks in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office -- must be seeing red.

In the first place, Kim's defiance is showing the limitations of U.S. military strength at precisely the moment when Washington has laid out explicitly its aims at achieving global military hegemony.

While Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to assure everyone early this week that Washington retains the capacity to take on North Korea militarily despite the massive build-up in U.S. forces around Iraq, that notion was pooh-poohed by even hardened hawks.

Others noted that, with thousands of North Korean missiles poised along the demilitarised zone and within 40 km of Seoul, military action is simply unthinkable, especially without the support of South Korea itself.

But even more infuriating has been the criticism that has been levelled at the administration from the left, right and centre, as the crisis in Korea has developed over the past month.

''Where's the Big Stick?'' read one big Washington Post headline recently, a particularly wicked reference to the foreign-policy advice of his hero, former President Theodore Roosevelt, who once said: ''Speak softly and carry a big stick.''

The administration is not only being accused of double standards in dealing with Iraq and Korea -- and the fact that the strategic implications of a nuclear arms race in North-east Asia that could include Japan are likely to be far more serious than even a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

It is also having to suffer charges that its low-key response to the situation so far is vastly more wimpish than actions -- including the deployment of U.S. troops to the region -- taken by the Clinton administration during the last great nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula eight years ago.

Former Clinton officials, who advised the incoming Bush team to maintain an engagement policy with North Korea that had already brought Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to visit Pyongyang, are saying that Bush's seemingly gratuitous hostility to North Korea -- is now having serious political consequences.

This hostility was evident during the March 2001 visit by South Korea's President Kim Dae Jung to the White House and Bush's subsequent inclusion of Pyongyang in his axis of evil.

''The political reminder from this episode is the danger that can come from tough talk,'' noted Leon Fuerth, former Vice President Al Gore's top national-security aide. ''When using words as weapons, a leader must be prepared to back up his rhetoric with force.'' Bush's words, he went on, ''now look like a bluff that is being called''.

But most harmful, perhaps, is the lesson to be drawn from these two crises by countries that do not wish to be cowed by Washington: if you are militarily strong, preferably armed with nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, like Kim Jong Il, you are safe. If you are militarily weak, like Saddam Hussein, you are in trouble.

Or, as 'New York Times' columnist Paul Krugman put it Friday: ''The best self-preservation strategy for Mr Kim is to be dangerous. (END)



-- andreas
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