Condoleezza Rice has warned the North Korean government that the U.S. has the power to “deter whatever [they] are up to.” If by this she means that we have the power to deter North Korea from proceeding with its nuclear program, I think Rice is mistaken. We probably had that power at one point during the Clinton administration, when North Korea’s program was in an earlier stage. But we forfeited it when Clinton decided to rely on North Korean promises instead of American power. (Amazingly, but not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton blames our present situation on the Bush administration — the Washington Times editors debunk this claim here).
If Rice means that we have the power to deter North Korea from using its nuclear weapons, I think she is correct. The North Korean government is focused on survival, not conquest.
The big question is whether we can deter the North Koreans from sharing technology with those who are interested in conquest or simply in killing Americans. I don’t know the answer to this question, on which so much depends.
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