Appeasement not an option

My friend is an Army Ranger. A couple years ago he told me of the only time he was truly frightened. It was 1994, and he was in jungle warfare training in Washington state. They were preparing for a possible conflict in Korea. It was quite often that they would have drills to be prepared, but on this particular night, they had a full supply of ammunition. He sat in the solitary darkness of his plane overnight, as our nation was on the brink of war. My friend was frightened.

“North Korea has been digging in since the 1950s, and my life expectancy when I land is 16 seconds,” he said.

It was at that time that the Clinton administration followed the lead of former President Jimmy Carter and appeased the North Korean dictator. The 1994 framework with North Korea gave them everything and demanded little at a time when we suspected they had a couple of nuclear weapons.

The time for diplomatic games must end – not an end to diplomacy but an end to the appeasement of North Korea.

Since then, North Korea has played diplomatic games with the United States and the rest of the world, while secretly enriching uranium to use in building a nuclear weapon. Now they admit they have the bomb, and yet we still continue to play diplomatic games with them.

Unfortunately, the situation is much worse than just North Korea having “the bomb.” They have been instrumental in the spread of nuclear materials and technologies across the globe, helping nations such as Pakistan go nuclear.

While Kim Jong Il says it is for defensive purposes, he cannot be trusted and the West must assume that it is his desire to finish the Korean War by achieving first strike supremacy. In other words, he wants to have the ability to strike an immediate and crushing blow to South Korean defenses and attempt to use that as leverage to force a reunification of the peninsula. In addition, North Korea is isolated, hungry and desperate; Kim will do anything for attention.

That is why the time for diplomatic games must end – not an end to diplomacy but an end to the appeasement of North Korea. President Roosevelt said “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Unfortunately, President Clinton spoke softly but carried no stick, and President Bush speaks harsh but left his stick in the Middle East.

It is time for the president and other allies to give an ultimatum to Kim. He must give up his nuclear program within a set amount of time, or we will take out their capacity to build weapons, and if necessary take out their capacity to wage war.

On the diplomatic front, if they cooperate, we will give them all the support they need to feed their people, build their economy with the resources they need and work to rebuild relations with the South.

During the Cold War, our position was limited because of fear of retribution from the Chinese and the Soviet Union. But today, North Korea is an isolated and weak outpost of a failed system. Its strongest ally is China, but China has become strongly interdependent with the United States. In addition, China cannot be trusted to do our work for us. Despite its recent move into capitalism, it is still a tyrannical system of government, and it’s rapidly vying to be the antithesis to the United States in the world. Its recent economic agreements with Iran (while we’re trying to get them to disarm) is only proof that the United States cannot afford to be complacent in these times.

We are the only superpower in the world today, and by historical measures the most laudable of superpowers. We are what Thomas Jefferson called an “Empire of Liberty.”

It is our responsibility to use this opportunity to leave a lasting impression of peace and liberty in the world. That is why we must lead the effort to disarm North Korea, but beyond that we must take the initiative to curb the rise of new proliferation.

For the reason that it is not just North Korea, but India, Pakistan, Iran and Israel that are now members of the nuclear club, the president must call for the creation of new treaties on non-proliferation in the world community.

In the final analysis, we are very much like my Army Ranger friend, waiting in the dark for war. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to choose peace on our terms, instead of war on the terms of an evil dictator.

Pade is a senior political science major and a freelance columnist for The Spectator.