Bill Kristol and Gary Schmitt

Bill Kristol and Gary Schmitt on the “Lessons of a Nuclear North Korea.” Amazingly, but not surprisingly, some are trying to convert the failure of appeasing North Korea into an argument for appeasing Iraq. The argument is, we’re not attacking North Korea, so why should we attack Iraq. Kristol’s answer is that we should remove the danger posed by Saddam “because it is just, it is doable, and the likely costs to innocent civilians and American forces are acceptably low. The same can’t be said with any confidence of an attempt to remove Kim Jong II and to liberate North Korea.” This is a reasonable answer, and it underscores the need to deal with Saddam before he obtains nuclear weapons and becomes, like Kim Jong Il, that much more difficult to remove. However, I am less quick than Kristol and Schmitt to dismiss the Bush administration’s suggestion that “Iraq is in a class by itself.” It’s not clear to me that North Korea is intent, as Iraq is, on overthrowing the established world order, as opposed to just surviving in it. Thus, while further appeasement is certainly not the way to go, it may be that something along the lines of the Reagan model for dealing with the Soviet Union is appropriate in the case of North Korea. In any case, as I said the other day, the sensible course is to eliminate Saddam while we consider our options with respect to North Korea.

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