Columns & Features:
By Eric S. Margolis
Sept 03, 1998
North Korea's retro-Stalinist leaders certainly know how to make their capitalist foes look like champion fools in front of the entire world.
On Monday, North Korea fired its new medium-range missile, the Taepodong-1, right over Japan. The 1,200-mile range missile's first two stages fell into the Sea of Japan - or East Sea, as Koreans call it. The third, capable of carrying a nuclear, chemical or biological warhead, sailed over northern Japan's busy air- lanes, and landed in the Pacific.
The Japanese, who look down on Koreans with the same contempt Americans show for Mexicans, howled with rage. President Bill Clinton, the architect of the west's appeasement policy towards North Korea, was left looking foolish, cowardly, and dangerously inept. South Korea's new president, Kim Dae-jung, who recently proclaimed a new, lovely-dovey `sunshine policy' towards North Korea, was massively humiliated. Western aide groups feeding `starving' North Korea were exposed as pathetic communist dupes.
When, in late 1992, the US learned North Korea had developed an extensive nuclear infrastructure and at least two nuclear weapons, Clinton had the choice of confronting North Korea militarily, as the US was doing with Iraq, or backing down.
Though North Korea routinely threatened to attack the 37,000 US troops based in South Korea with conventional and chemical weapons, Clinton decided there was no domestic capital to be made challenging North Korea. He chose bribery. Clinton got the US, Japan and South Korea to offer huge, US $6 billion bribe to the glowering North Koreans, including two lightwater reactors, 20-years of oil, and food.
The cash-starved North Koreans, who export nothing but missiles to the Mideast, pocketed the bribes, then went on developing their nukes and delivery systems. The Clinton Administration kept covering up evidence North Korea was blatantly violating its agreement - as this column has reported since 1992.
Threatening defenseless Iraq was politically popular among key Democratic Party members; action against militarily powerful North Korea was not. The Stalinist Sparta had tough armed forces of 1.2 million and might invade the south at any time. A face-off with North Korea would violate the 1991 Gulf War Powell Doctrine, that America should only fight weak nations that could not offer serious resistance.
Recent discovery of major new, underground nuclear facilities being built by North Korea forced the west to question its aid programs that now feed 30% of North Korea's 22 million people. If N. Korea was truly starving, why was it spending billions of new military reactors and missiles?
North Korea's shadowy leadership was clearly attempting:
1. To terrify Japan, South Korea and the US - whose bases in Japan and Okinawa it threatens to attack in wartime - to fork over lots more extortion money.
2. To promote missile exports.
3. To undermine South Korea's democratic government by showing its demoralized citizens, who are suffering terribly from economic crisis, that North Korea could threaten the deeply hated Japanese.
4. Fete new leader Kim Jong-il, who is shortly due to be named North Korea's official ruler after a long period of mourning for the late `Glorious Leader,' Kim Il-Sung. Recent naval and commando incursions into South Korea by the North demonstrated yet again Pyongyang's determination to take over the south - by subversion, or outright invasion.
The Taepodong-1 shot showed dramatically that Japan must have anti-missile systems, space-based sensors, and even a small, submarine-based nuclear force - as this column has been saying for many years. Otherwise, it will remain an Asian Kuwait, vulnerable to nuclear blackmail from North Korea and China, and reliant on an iffy US nuclear umbrella.
We simply can't allow outlaw North Korea to run the world's biggest extortion racket. Blockade North Korea; pressure China, its main ally and oil source, to embargo Pyongyang. Stop feeding North Korean civilians - which allows the Stalinist regime to build new weapons and keep a preposterous 1.2 million soldiers under arms. No more food until North Korea's military is cut by 75%.
The real threat to the US does not come from Sudan, Afghanistan, or Iraq, but from nuclear/chemical armed North Korea, whose next missile, the Taepodong-3, may reach North America.
Copyright: Eric Margolis, 1998. Published by Sound Vision with permission.