June 22, 2006


Former Defense Officials Urge U.S. Strike on North Korean Missile Site (Glenn Kessler and Anthony Faiola, 6/22/06, Washington Post)

Former defense secretary William J. Perry has called on President Bush to launch a preemptive strike against the long-range ballistic missile that U.S. intelligence analysts say North Korea is preparing to launch.

In an opinion article that appears in today's Washington Post, Perry and former assistant defense secretary Ashton B. Carter argue that if North Korea continues launch preparations, Bush should immediately declare that the United States will destroy the missile before it can be fired.

Perry and Carter suggest using a cruise missile launched from a submarine and carrying a high-explosive warhead. "The effect on the Taepodong would be devastating," they write, using the name of the Korean missile. "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."

The advantage of doing North Korea first is that even if it doesn't deter Iran it makes it clear that this is about denying our enemies nukes, not about Islam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2006 10:30 AM

Wonder if we have any kinetic weaponry that is accurate enough to hit a missle on the launch pad? Leaves no trace and they'll never see it coming.

Posted by: Rick T. at June 22, 2006 11:10 AM

A good idea. And from a Clinton offical!

I have thought of the same thing. The high profile "activation" of the "operational" missle defense system is a good misdrection story.

Posted by: Bob at June 22, 2006 11:13 AM

If you see your crazy neighbor, who has threatened to kill you many times and is known to beat his wife & kids, sitting on his porch loading a gun while staring at your house, it's not too difficult to figure out what needs to be done, is it?

Posted by: b at June 22, 2006 12:30 PM

Contain him. If you promise not to do anything to him he'll only hurt his own.

Posted by: The Left at June 22, 2006 12:34 PM

"Contain him. If you promise not to do anything to him he'll only hurt his own." Can you guarantee that? Because history would beg to differ with you.

Posted by: lebeaux at June 22, 2006 1:56 PM

BTW William Perry was Secretary of Defense back in 1994 when the North Koreans announced their intention to pursue a nuclear weapon; he is one architect of the Agreed Framework, which provided diplomatic cover for the development of their nuclear program. Look in the dictionary under "nonentity" and you will see his mild bespectacled face. And now he's calling for, what, pre-emption? No, can't call it that. This part just beggars belief:

Creative diplomacy might have avoided the need to choose between these two unattractive alternatives. Indeed, in earlier years the two of us were directly involved in negotiations with North Korea, coupled with military planning, to prevent just such an outcome. We believe diplomacy might have precluded the current situation. But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature.

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 22, 2006 2:26 PM

Pre-emptive strike. Certainly, a _very_ tempting option. After all, the supporters of the idea are right when they say that diplomacy has failed.

But let's not forget that North Korea still considers itself in a state of war with the world, And Seoul is much too close to their artillery, missile batteries and armies. If there is even the least chance that they would retaliate by invading South Korea or with a punitive strike on Seoul, then a pre-emptive strike might cost far more than it is worth. Far better would be surreptitious sabotage.

I wonder what the KCIA is up to...

Posted by: Matthew Johnson at June 22, 2006 3:08 PM

You can't allow evildoers to blackmail you with "the least chance."

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2006 3:47 PM

Not to mention his partnership with the Chinese
DARPA through his investment bank, Hambrecht &
Quist, which coincidentally provided the start
up money for the pre Kos scandal sheet Salon

Posted by: narciso at June 22, 2006 4:05 PM

As a veteran of the darkest (and scariest) days of the war to take down the FORMER SOVIET UNION, I am offended by the notion that counter-value deterrence is an unaccepable counter to a nuclear threat.

The readiness to see the enemy's language spoken only in Hell was good enough when we faced the Communists over the nuclear gunsights for all those years. Now we are supposed to be shaking in our boots over North Korea and Iran.

The implication is that deterrence* is unacceptable, at that the warriors who held off defeat while we waited for the enemy to collapse were what--criminals, villians??
A footnote on the word, "deterrence." The term is sometimes now misused to mean "countermeasure," as in "'Star Wars' is a 'deterrent' to a missile attack." Deterrence
is directed against the enemy's will, not his capability. Missile defense is a countermeasure; strategic thermonuclear weapons are a deterrent.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 22, 2006 4:18 PM

Not criminals, it's legal. It just happens to be immoral. It wasn't good at all, nevermind good enough.

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2006 4:24 PM

That's the very hypocracy I wrote of.

It's sort of like not having a statue of Bomber Harris for fifty years after the War. It's moral enough when the guns are shooting, and when you are safe, ". . .it's chuck 'em out, the brute!"

Brought forward to the here and now, the weak sisters are ready expose their country to mass destruction just so that they can feel "moral."

Counter-value deterrence is a moral dilemma. It works very well if it is credible. When it works, it is the minimum force and the minimum loss of life. If it is restrained, however, it is not credible, and it fails.

So it failed in the work-up to World War II, when the original Axis of evil were enabled to conclude that we were all "little worms." Once the other side believes that we will not "Die for Danzig," war becomes inevitable.

Please don't suggest that "insane" dictators are not deterrible. Their countries are most deterrible if the promise of retaliation is completely credible. It must be understood, on advance, that the cost of a nuclear attack on teh United States is total destruction. The promise of massive retaliation may not be temperered by the possiblilty of post-attack diplomacy.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 22, 2006 5:55 PM

It failed to work in the specific instance under discussion, North Korea.

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2006 6:31 PM

Dear Leader + neutron bomb = dearly departed leader

Posted by: lebeaux at June 23, 2006 1:45 AM


It failed to work because the US kissed the feet of the Dear Leader, starting in 1993. And surely the Norks knew all about the Chinese money funnelled to Clinton. And many of the older ones saw how we did nothing in 1968, with the Pueblo.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 23, 2006 9:27 PM

We've kissed their feet since Ike.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 10:07 PM

Probably, but we moved a little higher up their anatomy in '93. Foal Eagle and Team Spirit (the two big exercises) that year were, shall we say, unusually tense -- everybody expecting that they really weren't exercises -- then poof. And now here we are.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 24, 2006 5:15 PM