McCain on Korea

Ed Morrissey runs a guest post from none other than John McCain. It reads more like a speech than an op-ed, let alone a blog post, but when a potential presidential candidate puts out his position on an international crisis, a conversational tone isn’t his chief priority.

China has staked its prestige as an emerging great power on its ability to reason with North Korea, keep them engaged with the six party negotiations, and make progress toward a diplomatic resolution of this crisis. North Korea has now challenged them as directly as they challenge South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S. It is not in China’s interest or our interest to have a nuclear arms race in Asia, but that is where we’re headed. If China intends to be a force for stability in Asia, then it must do more than rebuke North Korea. It must show Pyongyang that it cannot sustain itself as a viable state with aggressive actions and in isolation from the entire world.

On this point, of course, he’s right – there’s a fair debate about how best to do it, but making this China’s responsibility should be the goal here. Nothing happens in North Korea unless the Chinese let it happen.

North Korea also has a record of transferring weapons technology to other rogue nations, such as Iran and Syria.

I personally think North Korea can probably be contained, given its lack of expansionist tendencies and despite the paranoia, desperation and irrationality of its leaders, but the proliferation issue is another one entirely – we can’t tolerate proliferation of nuclear technology to any of the trouble spots in the Arab or Muslim world.

I would remind Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush Administration policies that the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure. The Koreans received millions in energy assistance. They diverted millions in food assistance to their military. And what did they do? They secretly enriched uranium.
Prior to the agreement, every single time the Clinton Administration warned the Koreans not to do something — not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor — they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton Administration with further talks. We had a carrots and no sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior. When one carrot didn’t work, we offered another.

This part is as interesting for its partisan implications as on the merits: McCain is starting to realize that his interests in both the Republican primaries and in the 2008 general election (if he gets that far) will be served by going hard after Hillary.

11 thoughts on “McCain on Korea”

  1. I dunno what the hell we or anyone else can or should do about NK now.
    Not only have they been popping off missiles over Japan for years and attempting to build bigger a better ones to put the US at risk, now they’re blowing off nukes.
    I mean, I got no clue at all. Contrary to the stereotype so beloved by the left I’m sort of conservative but I’d rather not get involved in any wars.
    So nuking the crap out of them and killing untold millions of innocent people over the behavior of a few lunatics in their government just doesn’t seem to be a viable option to me.
    China needs to get off its ass and straighten this out I think. Pronto.

  2. Maybe it is time for a real world demonstration of our Star Wars program. I have wondered if we didn’t get one the last time they tried to test a missle.

  3. The problem here is not North Korea firing a missile at another nation, as it is certainly not in their interest to pick a fight with the world.
    The problem is North Korea, a desperately poor nation, selling a nuclear missile to a group like al-Qaeda, which could have disastrous implications.
    To think of the effects of just ONE nuclear weapon being detonated in a major city ANYWHERE in the world is to think of the collapse of the steady post-enlightenment progress of humanity. However, we must continue to advance as a society until somehow we can devise a way to eliminate nuclear weapons. Operating in fear (for example, by building a worthless Star Wars contraption) is not an option.

  4. So your answer is to sit and wait for a missle to land in one of our cities (or one of our alliea)? Doesn’t it make such more sense to be proactive and deploy a system that has been successful in the tests that ahve been made public (knowing that the actual full scale, accurate, test results will never be made public).

  5. Jec, I was nodding along with you right up until you started in on the “desperately poor nation” thing – which is the direct result of their own behavior – and then I started rending my garments, ripping my hair, and frankly I kicked one of my dogs three times when you said “operating in fear (for example, by building a worthless Star Wars contraption) is not an option.”
    Taking a deep breath and trying to be on my best behavior here. Why in the Living Hell is a purely defensive system, a system that would save millions of WOMEN and CHILDREN in Hawaii, San Fransisco, etcetera, “Not an Option”?
    Did you really mean that?
    This utterly confounds me about some folks. An anti-ballistic missile system can’t kill anyone. It is absolutely purely defensive.
    Why, for our mothers our children, for all of us as a group would ANYONE object to a purely defensive system to keep raving lunatics from brutally murdering our women and children by the hundreds of thousands?
    I mean, I just don’t get it. Why in the hell would anyone – OK anyone even minimally knowledgeable and concious about the post nuclear age – object to the US being able to defend itself from lunatics like Kim lil Dong?
    I mean really this just baffles me.

  6. I should have been more clear, I was saying that the real problem is North Korea selling a WEAPON and not necessarily a missile.
    Star Wars has shown itself to not even function properly. Even if it did function properly, it would protect us from a nonexistent threat. What we need protection from is a weapon that is smuggled into the country and detonated.
    Even though it is, as you say “PURELY DEFENSIVE”, Star Wars is simply not a cost-effective measure to protect our nation from a nuclear weapon.

  7. JEC – we need to protect ourselves from the threats we can identify and actually do something about. Star Wars actually has been shown to work. NK’s last missle test was one that was touted to reach the West Coast of the US. That is a threat we need to protect against. As I stated earlier, I wonder if that missle tests failure was actually due to a real world Star Wars action. I certainly can understand our government not standing up and thumping their chests to brag about that success. Let them wonder what caused the failure and spend more of their limited resources trying to fix an non-existant problem.

  8. By the way, Star Wars has already paid for itself. It was the attempt to counter it that brought about the economic collapse of the Soviet Union.

  9. To think that terrorist and enemy goverments would only ever try to get a nuke in through smuggling, or that say North Korea would not try to Nuke the South if we invaded to stop their program, etc. is naive. Star Wars is also effectively deployed on our naval ships, meaning we can role a couple destroyers up next to SK, Japan, and Taiwan, and eliminate (or at least bluff against) the Nokos threat of Nuclear retaliation. This in turn opens up several more conventional military and diplomatic avenues to us.
    1. We tell China and Russia that we’re going to hold them responsible for anything that goes through their borders with NoKo.
    2. We embargo the water and Soko border.
    NoKo regime can be at a minimum contained, and possibly collapsed. So what effect does this have? Well right now NoKo can threaten Russia, China, SoKo, and Japan – possibly Australia, Philipines, and the US soon with a nuke. Maybe it goes off, maybe it doesn’t, as Pres of US do you want to take that risk?
    On the other hand, if we role Aegis Destroyers up the block and tell them, any aggressive missle will be eliminated, we have the capacity, and the response will be a nuke from one of our boomers, right up your a$$, well then the NoKo’s are in double jeopardy. They may be nuked, without delivering their nuke, and further more even if their enemies do believe their claims of a nuclear weapon – the Noko’s have to figure out how confident the Americans are in Star Wards.
    Further more you can be sure the creation of this technology is creating lots of other nice technologies that are being used to develope things like missles that can avoid star wars defenses, unmanned aircraft, etc. I know liberals don’t like America being the dominant player militarily – and want a campfire approach, but someone will be on top. It’s a zero sum game – and looking around at countries with the might and will to be on top, I’ll take the US over anyone else.
    Finally remember two things, our technology is a force multiplier, effective Star Wars probably allows us cut backs elsewhere b/c of its deterent effect, on say China. This frees capital to do other things and allows our military to be more selective. Which in turn means the military itself is more capable. Also we weren’t that far from some serious conflict with China when they brought down one of our surveilance crafts in China and threatened to hold our servicemen and women. Star Wars may have only a psychological effect on Noko, but it has a practical application against China.

  10. I understand your argument, and I really would write more in response if I had time, but for now let me say the following: it is no longer in the interest of the superpowers to engage in frontal battle with one another. All rational powers (including North Korea (and Iran, which is a whole different topic), in spite of its leadership, does not want to engage in nuclear war with the United States) would rather just continue reaping the peace dividend and compete with each other via solely economic means.
    As these nations trade and compete with each other (This argument is explained in greater detail in The World is Flat) there is diminishing incentive to engage in war. It is doubtful that there will ever be another World War, so therefore the main goal of the 21st century will be to create predictable governments (democratic ones, most hopefully) and to prevent a non-state rogue agent from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

  11. Also in re: “star wars cripples soviets”, the inefficiency of the communist system caused the USSR to collapse. If the Russians didnt misallocate to defense, they would have misallocated to something else.

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