Letter to the Editor -wmd -dlh

Justin Eckl

For those of you who read the article in February 2nd’s *********New York Times******* entitled “Uranium Testing Said to Indicate Libya-Korea Link,” such news can be alarming, not only because North Korea may be selling nuclear materials to suspect buyers, but also because President Bush went to war against Iraq for less. Remember, even though the Bush administration now speaks of liberating the Iraqi people, the reason war was initiated was to guarantee that Saddam Hussein would not do what it looks like North Korea may have done: supply terrorists with nuclear capabilities. Granted, Libya is not a terrorist regime, but discounting Qaddafi’s newfound openness, it, like Iraq, is headed by a dictator that is a sworn enemy of the United States.
For those of us who would like to believe that Bush will give diplomacy a chance this term, with regards to North Korea, there is good reason to be fairly certain he will. The simple fact is that the costs in both human lives and money would be so great in a war against North Korea that Bush really has no other alternative than diplomacy. Casualty estimates from one military paper conclude that the combined American-South Korean forces could lose 300,000-500,000 soldiers in the first 90 days of fighting. Civilian casualty estimates range up into the millions with Seoul (pop. 10 million) only 40 miles from the demilitarized zone. North Korea’s army totals 1.1 million soldiers, nearly three times the size of Iraq’s. Moreover, North Korean soldiers are notoriously some of the most indoctrinated in the world. Add to this that we’re already fighting a war in Iraq and the chances for another preemptive strike are slim to none. Even if the military casualty estimates were much lower, e.g. 50,000, this number far surpasses the total military casualties in Iraq nearly 50-fold. The Bush administration (even the hawks) knows all this, and it is nearly unthinkable that it would inflict such horrors on the American (not to mention South Korean) populace on the heels of an already divisive war. If Bush’s foreign policy was marked by maverick idealism his first term, look for it to be noted for its pragmatism the second time around with a weaker economy and a thinly stretched military.
Whether or not Bush uses diplomacy “because he sincerely believes in the power of peace” is debatable. North Korean war talk (from both sides) will not go away, and the rhetoric will probably be escalated if the charges against North Korea turn out to be true. What is certain is that this time it is far less likely that such rhetoric will turn into war without those who champion diplomacy winning out.