Clinton’s SecDef Calls for Attack on North Korea

by | Jun 22, 2006 | Stress Blog | 6 comments

William Perry calls for violence from the pages of Thursday’s Washington Post:

“Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of “preemption,” which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.

“Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive — the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea’s nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. …

“There is nothing they could do with such warning to defend the bulky, vulnerable missile on its launch pad, but they could evacuate personnel who might otherwise be harmed. The United States should emphasize that the strike, if mounted, would not be an attack on the entire country, or even its military, but only on the missile that North Korea pledged not to launch — one designed to carry nuclear weapons. We should sharply warn North Korea against further escalation.”

If you interpret this attack on your country as an attack on your country, well, that’s your own fault.

Meanwhile, the Post‘s staff writers had this to add:

“Also yesterday, the U.S. ambassador to Japan reiterated that “all options are on the table” with regard to North Korea.”

Asked whether the United States would attempt to shoot down the North Korean missile if launched, J. Thomas Schieffer warned in an interview that “we have greater technical means of tracking it than we had in the past, and we have options that we have not had in the past.”

Hat tip: Laura Rozen, whose sources seem to think it’s all just talk. She quotes Chris Nelson as telling her, “The only plausible explanation I have seen so far is that Perry thinks this will get the Norks’ attention that everyone is seriously pissed of, so they better back down.”

William Arkin thinks all the rage over the rocket test is “much ado about nothing” in the first place:

“North Korea, starved for attention and with its own fish to fry domestically and in its own region, may or may not be preparing some rocket for launch, and it may or may not be attempting to use its missile as a bargaining chip or a PR stunt, and it may just be attempting to put its own satellite into space. What should crystal clear though in a world of risks and balances is that North Korea’s missile, even if it exists, is hardly a threat to us. …

“Lurking behind the story of course is the image of a long-range North Korean missile capable of hitting Alaska and even Los Angeles.

“It is a false image, and one that even if true, would be the least of America’s worries. …

“Part of the North Korea nuclear narrative is also that U.S. intelligence believes North Korea has manufactured enough nuclear materials for 10 weapons and might even have two already fabricated. The suggestion is that a nuclear weapon could be place on the Taepo Dong 2. It would indeed be a grave and provocative act, one that would be technically feasible by, say, 2016 at the earliest. And that’s if we did nothing between now and then to help North Korea along in changing the situation.”

It’s too bad Bush chose to screw up relations with the North upon taking office, if not, we could use this time to better focus on the disaster of an unprovoked war of aggression he’s already gotten us into without all these distractions.

Listen to The Scott Horton Show