pageok
pageok
pageok
Preempting the Korean Missile:

From an article in today's Washington Post by former Clinton Defense honchos Aston Carter and William Perry:

Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of "preemption," which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.

Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. 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, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry.

The U.S. military has announced that it has placed some of the new missile defense interceptors deployed in Alaska and California on alert. In theory, the antiballistic missile system might succeed in smashing into the Taepodong payload as it hurtled through space after the missile booster burned out. But waiting until North Korea's ICBM is launched to interdict it is risky. First, by the time the payload was intercepted, North Korean engineers would already have obtained much of the precious flight test data they are seeking, which they could use to make a whole arsenal of missiles, hiding and protecting them from more U.S. strikes in the maze of tunnels they have dug throughout their mountainous country. Second, the U.S. defensive interceptor could reach the target only if it was flying on a test trajectory that took it into the range of the U.S. defense. Third, the U.S. system is unproven against North Korean missiles and has had an uneven record in its flight tests. A failed attempt at interception could undermine whatever deterrent value our missile defense may have.

David C. (www):
too funny - I said this yesterday and got thumped.

It will be interesting to see what people post today.
6.22.2006 10:34am
davod (mail):
It is my understanding that the USN using a Standard missile off a ship has had a successfull testg against a ballistic missile.
6.22.2006 10:42am
davod (mail):
PS:

Aegis cruisers, probably carrying modified Standard missiles, are stationed off North Korea as part of the Ballistic Missile Shield.
6.22.2006 10:45am
Spade (mail):
So, erm, they're willing to start a war over this? Because that's how NK would view such a strike.
6.22.2006 11:38am
Freder Frederson (mail):
The editorial suggests destroying the missile with a cruise missile on the ground before it is launched. That is different from what we were discussing yesterday where there was some discussion of shooting it down during launch, while it was actually moving. The two authors are rational enough to know our vaunted ABM system is a joke, however not rational enough to think through the consequences of deliberately attacking NK with a cruise missile.
6.22.2006 11:38am
Dan28 (mail):
Incredible - literally, beyond credibility - that the authors of this article would leave out a few key facts. For example, the fact that there are currently 700,000 North Korean troops along the border with South Korea; or the fact that the city of Seoul is within artillery firing range of the North Korean border, where North Korean artillery are armed with devastating chemical weapons; or the fact that the South Koreans are absolutely appalled at the warmongering of the United States, furious at Bush for walking away from the Agreed Framework, and have zero interest in a combat with North Korea that would likely kill millions of their citizens. The mere idea that the United States would risk millions of South Korean lives against the will of the South Korean people by launching a military strike against the North is insanely irresponsible and morally reprehensible.
6.22.2006 11:54am
Dan28 (mail):
Even worse, the article *does* note that a strike against North Korea "undoubtedly carries risk". Yeah, it undoubtably carries the risk that *millions of South Koreans will die*. This is, to put it mildly, *not* an acceptable degree of risk.
6.22.2006 11:56am
AppSocRes (mail):
What an amazing amount of "spine" ex Clinton administration officials show once they are out of power. If the Clinton administration had not essentially aided and abetted the North Korean nuclear weapons program in the 1990s, when North Korea posed a much more tractable problem than it does now, we might not be in this position today.
6.22.2006 12:07pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
What an amazing amount of "spine" ex Clinton administration officials show once they are out of power. If the Clinton administration had not essentially aided and abetted the North Korean nuclear weapons program in the 1990s, when North Korea posed a much more tractable problem than it does now, we might not be in this position today.

And the Bush Administration's handling of NK has been brilliant.
6.22.2006 12:19pm
Taeyoung (mail):
South Koreans are absolutely appalled at the warmongering of the United States, furious at Bush for walking away from the Agreed Framework, and have zero interest in a combat with North Korea that would likely kill millions of their citizens.
This is certainly not uniformly the case. The Grand National Party (Hannara) is far more pro-American (or rather, far more anti-North Korean) than the current government, and their recent performance makes me hopeful that they may return to power in the next elections. They take . . . a hard line on the DPRK. Of course, they know that 20 million people live in Seoul and its environs, so they want to avoid North Korea's heavy artillery reducing Seoul to rubble. But they are certainly not opposed to denying North Korea its KEDO reactors and exerting considerably more pressure than the current president and his predecessor were willing to do.
6.22.2006 12:20pm
Beau (mail) (www):

The mere idea that the United States would risk millions of South Korean lives against the will of the South Korean people by launching a military strike against the North is insanely irresponsible and morally reprehensible.

You think North Korea has to attack South Korea because the US destroys a NK missile? Certainly, the N. Koreans could kill a bunch of S. Koreans if they wanted to, but it's not like we would have caused it. North Korea can make its own choices about how it fights, and it is under no obligation to go out and kill innocents. If it chooses to do so, then it's probably just waiting for a pretext to kill South Koreans anyway. One thing's for sure though. If North Korea is allowed to develop an effective nuclear ICMB, this sort of thing will be harder to prevent.
6.22.2006 12:34pm
Christopher Hasbrouck (mail):
I agree with Beau, but the much (perhaps all?) of the international community, North Korea included, would almost certainly hold the US responsible for sparking a war against South Korea. It's asinine, I know. But since our PR is already in the dumpster...

If I were calling the shots, I'd still take out the missiles. It just seems like a cheap investment, in terms of both money and manpower, in order to preempt the possibility of a problem. We launch a missile, and take out what is clearly a threat to national security. But unlike the Iraq War, this takes a single cruise missile. Cheap and easy. So North Korea declares war on South Korea. I wouldn't hold us any more responsible than when Sadaam launched Scuds at Israel during Desert Storm.
6.22.2006 12:47pm
Taeyoung (mail):
You think North Korea has to attack South Korea because the US destroys a NK missile? Certainly, the N. Koreans could kill a bunch of S. Koreans if they wanted to, but it's not like we would have caused it. North Korea can make its own choices about how it fights, and it is under no obligation to go out and kill innocents.
A fair point. The most directly relevant issue, then, would be their internal calculus about what will happen to them if they attack Seoul. If they do attack Seoul, I think even Noh Moohyun (if he is still alive) will have to authorise counterattack, and there is no reason to believe the DPRK could survive such, particularly if the US and Japan become involved.

On the other hand, Kim Jong Il might gamble that the current ROK government won't be willing to counterattack, or that destroying Seoul will be sufficient to put the ROK out of commission, because there will be wreckage and refugees streaming south, preventing advance, etc. At that point, his concern would be US and Japanese forces counterattacking. There, he would have to guess US willingness to attack in force (probably just from the carrier group -- troops would mostly have to come from South Korea). Weighing against US counterattack is the possibility of Chinese retaliation, either against Japan, or against Taiwan. Hopefully we're talking with the Chinese about this, and North Korea knows the progress of those discussions.

I don't know what the outcome of this calculation would be. He might very well think he can obliterate Seoul and get away with it. Or he might just weigh the odds, decide that he doesn't want to risk his skin, and therefore do nothing. Or perhaps he'll just fire a few shells at the US base in Seoul -- something small enough that we'd probably be unwilling to counterattack in force, but big enough that he can puff himself up on the world stage.
6.22.2006 12:50pm
Taeyoung (mail):

So North Korea declares war on South Korea.
Not necessary -- technically they're already at war.
6.22.2006 12:51pm
cfw (mail):
What ever happened to the Kantian approach to ethics (e.g., the Golden Rule)? If it is ok to cruise missile a missile site in NK, why is it not ok for others to attack US (or Israeli, or Indian, or Russian, or British, or French, or Pakistani) missile sites as and when they choose to?

US should have no legal problem with shooting at a missile once launched, over the ocean - seems like self-defense or reasonable defense of another. Hard to see legal objection to to sabotage or "theft" of materials, assuming no breach of the peace, against any and all WMD arsenals (self help against a nuisance). US should probably also have a standing offer to destroy its arsenal voluntarily (on a pro rata basis) as other places verifiably destroy their arsenals.

Self-defense rights only go so far, even in a nuclear age. Killing people on the ground in NK might make sense based on reasonable fear of nuclear attack on the US or some third country, but no reasonable arbitrators could say now that the US has a reasonable fear of probable nuclear attack. There is no probable cause for the destruction and loss of life suggested.

A hypothetical 1% chance is not a reasonable fear, with all due respect to the VP. How can we know this? Because the US or Russia or Israel or Pakistan or India has a 1% chance of unleashing a nuke attack, depending on assumptions used, and the US would not agree that those countries should be preemptively attacked.

Some nightmares need to be dealt with with diplomacy and economic measures, including the hypothetical 1% chance that NK (or Israel, Pakistan, India, France, Britain, Russia, etc.) will lob a nuke at the US or Japan or some other country.

Looks a bit like the Cuban Missile crises - but less missiles, and not in our hemisphere. US couls consider a blockade of NK ports, assuming SK, Japan, Russia and China agree. What evidence exists that the reasonable diplomatic and economic alternatives have been exhausted?
6.22.2006 12:52pm
Windypundit (www):
"But unlike the Iraq War, this takes a single cruise missile."

Actually, you'd probably want to use a volley of missiles because you really shouldn't count on secondary explosions to take out the test facility. Also, a bit of overkill is necessary because cruise missiles can miss the target, fail in flight, or be shot down by NK air defenses. And maybe you need a few strikes to suppress some of those air defenses and create a corridor...
6.22.2006 1:03pm
Leland (mail):
Well stated cfw. If the US had undisputable intel that the Taepodong-2 was carrying a nuclear payload, then I think it rational to destroy the missile with any and all means at any time. We have no such evidence.

A missile launched in the general direction of the US or its ally is another story.
6.22.2006 1:03pm
Medis:
This is undoubtedly a situation in which the unintended consequences of an attack on the missle could very high, and very much against US interests. And saying it would be the North Koreans's fault if such unintended consequences happened doesn't really address the pragmatic issue of the resulting harm.
6.22.2006 1:13pm
Tom952 (mail):
Sideline hawks. While the consequences of their imprudent recommendation play out, they will be free to spit and snipe at the administration from the sidelines.

N.K. has proven capable of irrational behavior, and their response to a strike on their soil is unpredictable. What if NK decides to detonate a nuclear truck bomb in Seoul, to prove their national strength and punish the annoyingly prosperous Yankee puppets?

All possible consequences must be considered before deciding to act.
6.22.2006 1:14pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
If the US had undisputable intel that the Taepodong-2 was carrying a nuclear payload, then I think it rational to destroy the missile with any and all means at any time. We have no such evidence.

Actually the indisputable evidence is this is nothing but a test of a missile, not a weapon. We have no right to tell any sovereign nation they can't have a space program and even less right to blow up their missiles on the launch pad.
6.22.2006 1:17pm
EricK:
There was only an armistice signed in 1953.
6.22.2006 1:19pm
Christopher Hasbrouck (mail):
(So maybe it takes several cruise missiles and some air support--that's still relatively cheap.)

Cfw, the Kantian approach is interesting but meaningless in international politics. In a society united under a "common power," as Hobbes would assert, such an approach would be appropriate in making laws and so forth.

Unfortunately, the world is not united under any common power. The UN is not a world government: "Where there is no common power, there is now law. Where there is no law, no injustice." International law does not exist. Countries do not need justification for their actions in order to act. We do unto others and they do unto us, and we take recourse for such actions. The realist merely weighs the national interest against the cost required. Interest: elimintate possible national security threat. Cost: minimal. Action: advisable.

Of course, the immediate counter-argument will be to assert that countries will become angry with the US for breaking supposed international agreements. So? As the only superpower, the US has an even greater ability to do as it pleases, even to the dismay of the international community, without any real reprisal. As an added bonus, the international community doesn't have anything positive to say about North Korea.

Law, justice, and all their ilk cannot exist without a common power. International law, much like human rights, is a great misnomer.
6.22.2006 1:19pm
David Matthews (mail):
"If the Clinton administration had not essentially aided and abetted the North Korean nuclear weapons program in the 1990s, when North Korea posed a much more tractable problem than it does now, we might not be in this position today."

"And the Bush Administration's handling of NK has been brilliant."

It is sad that this has become the state of politics in America, where the only defence of one party/administration's actions is to say that the other one's sucks.

Guys, you're both right. Clinton's policy, what little there was of it, sucked; so does Bush's.

And what's even sadder, is that the "best" candidates the parties continue to put forward, still carry the names of "Clinton" and "Bush."
6.22.2006 1:24pm
Paddy O. (mail):
We have no right to even tell them? Sure, we may not have a right to enforce it unless the international community agrees, but I sure think we have a right to tell them. And as even the EU seems behind Bush on this one, it might even be we have the right to enforce what we tell them.
6.22.2006 1:25pm
Dan28 (mail):
I am stunned that people consider the deaths of huge numbers of innocent civilians in South Korea in terms of PR or even, frankly, in terms of our own moral culpability. It is an absolute certainty that North Korea will threaten to attack South Korea if we launch a missle strike against NK. They may be bluffing, or they may not be. It doesn't really matter. We do not have the moral right to put millions of South Koreans at risk when they want nothing to do with this conflict. The civilians in South Korea are not pawns on our geopolitical chessboard.

I seriously doubt that we would be having this conversation if it was New York that was within artillery range of North Korea. In fact, I seriously doubt we'd be having this conversation if it was London or Paris or within artillery range. The people of South Korea are entitled to the same level of respect that we would show for any other ally, and that means (at an absolute minimum) not taking a chance with their basic survival.

And incidentally, the first stage of an actual war with North Korea would be competely devastating for the South Koreans (as well as the Americans stationed in South Korea), who are hugely outnumbered by the 1 million+ North Korean army.
6.22.2006 1:29pm
Houston Lawyer:
Has anyone considered that it may be in our interest to provoke the Norks into a war they cannot win? I don't see how waiting until they get nuclear weapons built will improve the situation.

The Norks are already dying in large numbers from starvation. Should we value the lives of South Koreans more?
6.22.2006 1:30pm
Taeyoung (mail):
It is an absolute certainty that North Korea will threaten to attack South Korea if we launch a missle strike against NK.


Why would you think this? It's no more an "absolute certainty" that they would do so than it's an "absolute certainly" we would retaliate by bombing North Korea into rubble, and hunt down Kim Jong Il and kill him.

What there is is a risk that he would do so. A certain probability (1%, 5%, 10%, 50%?) that he would decide he is willing to risk it. We can say that risk is unacceptable -- I happen to agree. Any nontrivial risk that Seoul gets shelled is unacceptable to me. But that it's an "absolute certainty?" Pah!
6.22.2006 1:38pm
Dan28 (mail):

Has anyone considered that it may be in our interest to provoke the Norks into a war they cannot win?


Please try to understand the part of the world that you are talking about here. This is from a Center for Nonproliferation Studies assessment of the possibility of a tactical strike against North Korea:


Even if U.S. strikes on North Korea nuclear facilities are successful, North Korea would still have the capability to inflict massive damage against South Korea and the 37,000 U.S. troops based there. Retaliation might be gradual, or North Korea might resort to large-scale strikes quickly. Efforts to invade the South are less likely, but cannot be ruled out entirely (especially if U.S. military forces are preoccupied in the Persian Gulf). The decision about how to respond would be up to North Korean leaders, who would have a range of military options and the ability to escalate the conflict over time. Although the United States would likely win an all-out war, the damage to South Korea would be tremendous and U.S. forces would sustain large casualties. One U.S. military estimate suggested that U.S. and South Korean military forces might suffer 300,000-500,000 casualties within the first 90 days of fighting, in addition to hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties.[9]


Read the whole thing here:
http://cns.miis.edu/research/korea/dprkmil.htm

There are no military options here, we know it and the North Koreans know it. That's why North Korea is able to act so aggressively.
6.22.2006 1:39pm
Taeyoung (mail):
Oh wait. Sorry. Misread. Absolute certainty that he will "threaten." Yes.

But he threatens all the time. He's implicitly threatened to attack Japan too (by firing missiles at Japan), and that just because he was piqued that we were ignoring him.
6.22.2006 1:40pm
hey (mail):
There's an easier solution that avoids the DPRK devastating Seoul: saturation nuclear bombardment of DPRK. They can't fire if they're rapidly turning into glass. And the fallout would be much lighter on Seolu than DPRK's artillery.

As to the "oh my god " chorus... Can you please just move to DPRK or China, where your cheques are being signed. I bet you were part of Peace Now and have a Russian or East German case number somewhere. There truly are elements of the left that are beyond paroduy or the most extravagant paranoid fantasies of us hawks.

No one would be as stupid as to build up such a dense city within regular artillery range of the enemy, as the ROK have done. Dan28 should perhaps look into his history of warfare. In it he would find that there was a period a few decades ago when major European cities were threatened by and hit with mass quantities of artillery and other munitions. None of the players changed their game because of that basic threat. C'est la guerre. In a contemporaneous example, Taiwanese citizens are well aware of a monstrous threat from the ChiComs should they ever declare independence but still have about a plurality in favour. Israelis are hit by hundreds of artillery shots every month, and the EU and the Democrats blame them for it (I know, they're evil Jooos/Likudniks and have no right to life, but still).

I call treason and aiding and abetting the enemy on Dan and his ilk. I also demand that they have any credits in logic or game theory revoked, as they obviously are incapable of making any sort of decisions with a hostile counter party. I desperately hope that no one is relying on Dan28 for any sort of negotiation advice! This is vicious ad hominem, but I can't think of a more appropriate response to such a hysterical, nonsensical, illogical, and defeatist opinion.
6.22.2006 1:43pm
Dan28 (mail):

Oh wait. Sorry. Misread. Absolute certainty that he will "threaten." Yes.

But he threatens all the time. He's implicitly threatened to attack Japan too (by firing missiles at Japan), and that just because he was piqued that we were ignoring him.

Yeah, exactly. I doubt he would launch an all out invasion of South Korea, but I'm sure he would escalate the conflict if attacked by the United States. Let's face it, there is no way the U.S. would really declare a true war with North Korea, given the size of the North Korean military, the nearly impossible terrain, the current U.S. military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the huge number of casualties to both the U.S. and ROK involved. So he could retaliate against ROK or Japan with virtual impunity, and dare us to escalate further.

This arrogant imperialist attitude that assumes the United States military is powerful enough to coerce any concession from any government, or remove any government from power at will, needs to be exocrized from the American political consciousness. We can't fight this battle. We have to negotiate. There are no other options, and there have never been other options. That's what Clinton realized in 1994, and that's the reality Bush has been ignoring since 2002.
6.22.2006 1:47pm
Rush (mail):
If we would launch an immediate nuclear sneak attack on all of North Koreas air fields, Missile, and nuclear facilities we'd stand a damn good chance of catching them with their pants down. We could easily assign 10 warheads to each target, and still have a large force in reserve for any contingincies. We would thus emerge victorious, over our enemy who would be badly damaged and uncoordinated. Probably tops of 10-20 million people killed, depending on the breaks.
6.22.2006 1:50pm
Christopher Hasbrouck (mail):
Moral rights? Hogwash.

Our own 37,000 troops: now that's something worth considering. If there's a North Korean retaliation threat to our forces in South Korea, which would outweigh the threat of a North Korean ICBM program, then, of course, I would be unable to endorse the attack.

Although whether or not a dictator like Kim Jong Il would be willing to be the first to use nuclear weapons post WWII is an interesting question.
6.22.2006 1:51pm
Taeyoung (mail):
They can't fire if they're rapidly turning into glass. And the fallout would be much lighter on Seolu than DPRK's artillery.

As to the "oh my god " chorus...


Uh, OMG!

That's a ridiculous proposition, and I hope you are joking.

First, consider how long it will take for the missiles to reach North Korea. I'm guess at least a few hours, no? We haven't got launch sites over there, that I know, and would be launching from nuclear subs, if anything. Meanwhile, it takes what, about a minute, at most, for shells from North Korea's 11,000 pieces of heavy artillery to smash into the heart of a metropolis larger than New York. And that's not even counting missiles with chemical and probably biological weapons loaded onto them.

Furthermore, if we want to put North Korea's artillery out of commission, we're going to be bombing right along the border, so yes, fallout will fall on Seoul. Almost directly, in fact.

No one would be as stupid as to build up such a dense city within regular artillery range of the enemy, as the ROK have done.

Seoul has been the capital of Korea for about six hundred years, possibly even more (I forget whether the Yi's chose a new capital or not).

Dan28 should perhaps look into his history of warfare. In it he would find that there was a period a few decades ago when major European cities were threatened by and hit with mass quantities of artillery and other munitions. None of the players changed their game because of that basic threat.

Uh, yes they did. Are you saying the shelling of Paris in the Great War, the Blitz in London in WWII, or the shelling of Vienna (I think it was) by the Bonaparte had no effect?

In the extreme example, the Roman Empire didn't just change policy when Constantinople was hit with the Ottoman mega-cannon -- it ceased to exist. Which is pretty much what will happen to South Korea if the North shells Seoul. 20 million people live in Seoul and the surrounding areas. That's half the population of the ROK.
6.22.2006 1:53pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Freder Frederson (mail):
Actually the indisputable evidence is this is nothing but a test of a missile, not a weapon. We have no right to tell any sovereign nation they can't have a space program and even less right to blow up their missiles on the launch pad.


Anyone who seriously says that North Korea has a space program and that this intercontinental ballistic missile is not a weapon is a fool or worse.
6.22.2006 1:57pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> It is an absolute certainty that North Korea will threaten to attack South Korea if we launch a missle strike against NK.

North Korea can threaten to attack South Korea if Brett Favre retires so that isn't a particularly useful statement.

As to South Korea, we should insist that they vote on whether the US stays, and that we leave if more than 1-20% want us to leave. If they want to buddy-up to NoK, we shouldn't interfere, even if the likely result is that they end up eating grass.
6.22.2006 1:58pm
SG:
Dan28:

What gives you any reason to beleive that there exists a negotiated settlement? As you point out, Clinton negotiated in 1994, and the threat has increased since that point. Bush has consistently attempted to reach a multilateral negotiated settlment, also to no avail.

The arrogant transnationalist attitude that assumes every conflict can be peacefully negotiated away needs to be exprcised from the American political consciousness.

Which is not to say that I think this situation warrants a military strike on North Korean soil. I don't think the cost-benefit ratio works out. But I see no basis whatsoever for assuming that there exists a negotiated solution, or even a good faith partner with whom to attempt negotiations.
6.22.2006 1:59pm
Rush (mail):
I think land based ICBMs from the US would take about 30 minutes to reach North Korea and start fusing hydrogen atoms into helium. Ballistic Missile subs would be even closer.
6.22.2006 2:02pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Anyone who seriously says that North Korea has a space program and that this intercontinental ballistic missile is not a weapon is a fool or worse.

Obviously this is part of a weapons program. But this test is of an unarmed missile. I merely meant that we cannot prevent NK from developing long range missiles unless of course they have agreed not to. But even then I doubt blowing it up on the launch pad is the remedy for a breach.
6.22.2006 2:04pm
Christopher Hasbrouck (mail):
Rush, that's cute and all, but I don't think even the most fervent realists believe that in a situation like this a nuclear attack is a wise option.

Are you familiar with the concept of trolling?
6.22.2006 2:04pm
markm (mail):
"The most directly relevant issue, then, would be their internal calculus about what will happen to them if they attack Seoul. If they do attack Seoul, I think even Noh Moohyun (if he is still alive) will have to authorise counterattack, and there is no reason to believe the DPRK could survive such, particularly if the US and Japan become involved."

1) What are the pressures towards attacking? I don't know the internal politics at all, but it's conceivable that NK's hereditary dictator thinks that his own people will soon pull him down, unless he manages some show of strength - demonstrating a working ICBM would be ideal, but demolishing Seoul might be a substitute. (Such things as actually feeding the country seem to be quite beyond his reach.)

2) If he is overthrown by an internal coup or an uprising, chances are he'll be killed on the spot. (Which he quite well deserves, but the possibility doesn't improve the chances of rational thinking.) If he's overthrown by a US invasion, he'll skip across the border to China and likely be supported in style for the rest of his life as a "government in exile".

3) Or he might expect the Chinese to send their army in and restore him to the throne in case of an invasion.

On the other hand, I cannot see any reason to expect the situation in NK to ever improve without some drastic intervention.
6.22.2006 2:14pm
cfw (mail):
CH:

"So? As the only superpower, the US has an even greater ability to do as it pleases, even to the dismay of the international community, without any real reprisal."

This idea of "superpower" needs study. Power comes from land, population, materials and equipment. US is behind China and India in population, and is not dominant over Asia in land. Materials and equipment - US has a large share, but no monopoly. A coalition of 1 billion Muslims, reasonably equipped and supplied, could quite possibly defeat the US, for example. This assumes, as we must, that we fight wars without nukes.

The Chaney approach - treat 1% risk of nuke attack as certainty - looks too much like "it is ok to throw a baby in a furnace to save 100 who would otherwise die" - the old critique of Utilitarianism.

The Chaney/Perry/ACarter approach looks unethical and it ignores the fact that one attack may not be enough. Missiles are of course not the only way of delivering nukes to third countries. What would keep NK from smuggling the nuke into the Port of LA and wasting LA?
6.22.2006 2:20pm
Taeyoung (mail):
Re: SG:
As you point out, Clinton negotiated in 1994, and the threat has increased since that point.
Actually, I don't think the threat has increased appreciably. I have nothing but contempt for the way Clinton handled that negotiation, but I have nothing but contempt for it (it is the only thing Clinton did that actually makes me feel rage!) not because it was dumb to negotiate, but because he negotiated for something totally worthless.

Since the early 90's, I'd thought North Korea had nuclear weapons already -- the South Korean intelligence services apparently thought so, and I had got that impression from some of my family, who were in the government (Kim Young Sam's) at that time. I think the Japanese had also reached the same conclusion by then. So we gave them nuclear technology (KEDO's light water reactors), food aid, and fuel, and in exchange, got a promise to refrain from doing something they had already done.

Oh, very clever. Absolutely stunning diplomacy.

What I think Clinton should have pushed for is verifiable drawdown of some proportion of the artillery targeted on Seoul. I suppose I would think that though, since I've got family over there. Perhaps the situation looks different to an American man, concerned with American interests, rather than Korean lives. I suppose it must, since Bush looks set to do the exact same thing.

Sorry, this is a somewhat emotional subject for me. Makes me mad.

Anyhow, as I was saying, I don't think the threat is much different, except that their missile technology has improved somewhat since then, and they've made clear that Tokyo is within range. This doesn't actually change the calculus all that much, since they could hit Tokyo easily enough with a container bomb, even if they didn't have a ballistic missile to make it quick. And there's no indication (I have seen) that they've successfully miniaturised their nukes for mounting on their missiles. Last I heard they were trying to get that technology from Pakistan.
6.22.2006 2:32pm
MnZ (mail):
"We do not have the moral right to put millions of South Koreans at risk when they want nothing to do with this conflict. The civilians in South Korea are not pawns on our geopolitical chessboard."

We absolutely do have the right. The North Koreans are the ones that needlessly brought the South Koreans into this issue. To indicate that the US is morally cupable for that is ludicrous.

"I seriously doubt that we would be having this conversation if it was New York that was within artillery range of North Korea."

Actually, we are having this coversation because Los Angeles is (or will be) within missile range.

"The people of South Korea are entitled to the same level of respect that we would show for any other ally, and that means (at an absolute minimum) not taking a chance with their basic survival."

I agree in principle. However, if North Korea starts actively threatening the US, the US should not be allowed itself to be blackmailed by threats to it or to South Korea. That might mean taking a chance. The US cannot be bound by threats to third parties. That sets an extremely bad precedent.

However, it is worth pointing out that, if North Korea was to attack South Korea, the US would be legally bound to defend its ally. If there was no alliance between the US and South Korea, then the US would have no such obligation.
6.22.2006 2:37pm
Dan28 (mail):

The arrogant transnationalist attitude that assumes every conflict can be peacefully negotiated away needs to be exprcised from the American political consciousness.

I never claimed or assumed that diplomatic negotiations with North Korea were certain to work. I never even said they would probably work. I said they were our only option if we want to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

NK's constant requests for bilateral negotiations with the United States makes it pretty clear that they see both nuclear weapons and ICBMs as chits to bargain with for aid and diplomatic recognition. That's a form of extortion, and rewarding that aggression is appeasement. But the threat works because it is based on an accurate assessment of our national interests. Let me put it this way: NK would be happy to trade their chits in for aid. Or, they would be happy to sit back and just acquire more and more chits. It's our choice. But the former option, despite being repugnant, is better for our national security. This ICBM test is just another in a series of reminders of why that is the case.

The North Koreans probably would have developed nuclear weapons a decade ago if it were not for the Agreed Framework. Again, the Framework wasn't perfect and does not offer certainty. But it at least offers the possibility of control over North Korea's behavior. We were better off having some leverage than no leverage at all.
6.22.2006 2:37pm
Dan28 (mail):

To indicate that the US is morally cupable for that is ludicrous.

I don't care who is morally culpable. I care whether millions of people live or die. The original article is advocating a policy that could result in the deaths of millions of innocent people, most of whom are ROK allies who want nothing to do with this conflict. That is unacceptable regardless of who, on some abstract level, is 'culpable'.
6.22.2006 2:44pm
Medis:
"Cost: minimal."

This represents either a far-too-narrow definition of cost, or a gross failure of imagination.

In general, people offering the realpolitik arguments seem to be overlooking the fact that we actually do have purely selfish interests at stake in the region. Just to give one example, South Korea has something like the 11th-largest economy in the world, and is something like our 7th-largest trading partner. That means we have a very large economic stake in preventing the devastation of the South Korean economy. And the regional effects could quickly magnify--anything that messed with the economies of China and Japan (which I believe are our 3rd- and 4th-largest trading partners, after Canada and Mexico) could cause even further economic loss.

So, it is not being a realist to imply that it is no great concern of ours what North Korea does to South Korea. It is just being dumb.
6.22.2006 2:48pm
SG:
Dan28:

Read Taeyoung's 1:32 post. There's good reason to believe that North Korea had nuclear weapons before the Agreed Framework. There's also reason to believe that they increased their nuclear arsenal during the time the Agreed Framework was in force. They certainly upgraded their ballistic missile capbility.

I take it that isn't your understanding of what has occurred, but would you concede that it's a possible scenario? If you did think that is what ocurred, would you still have confidence that negotiations were a useful path?

Negotiations are most emphatically not the only option. The refusal to accept the use of force as an option decreases the likelihood that negotiations will be successful, and increases the likelihood that force will become necessary.
6.22.2006 2:49pm
Truth Seeker:
Can't we just aim some kind of electromagnetic force at their launch site which would screw up the electronics and make the launch fail? Who would know?
6.22.2006 2:56pm
Mark F. (mail):
Why would a North Korean ICBM be such a big deal? Do we really think that they would be so suicidal as to actually bomb the U.S.? Why would they do so?
6.22.2006 3:01pm
Christopher Hasbrouck (mail):
Damnit, Medis is absolutely right. South Korea does have a huge economy with which we trade. And war with North Korea definitely wouldn't help in that regard.

I'll eat the crow.
6.22.2006 3:07pm
Medis:
Christopher,

As an aside, I think I let my rhetoric get away from me in that post, and I apologize.
6.22.2006 3:16pm
MnZ (mail):
"The original article is advocating a policy that could result in the deaths of millions of innocent people, most of whom are ROK allies who want nothing to do with this conflict. That is unacceptable regardless of who, on some abstract level, is 'culpable'."

I am not advocating the author's position. However, we should not dismiss it on the grounds that it might "immorally" endanger South Korea. Instead, the risks to South Korea should be viewed through a lens of costs-benefit including PR and reputation.

I have heard of "might makes right." However, your concept seems to imply "turpitude makes right." It is extraordinarily dangerous to give into our enemies just because they are willing to be so utterly depraved and despicable.

Let me interject here:
"Let me put it this way: NK would be happy to trade their chits in for aid. Or, they would be happy to sit back and just acquire more and more chits. It's our choice. But the former option, despite being repugnant, is better for our national security."

You are forgetting choice (c): Prepare to fight a war.

Moreover, how is playing the world's patsy good for our security? Sure, we are wealthy and powerful enough to afford it now. However, what if more two-bit dictators decide to start playing this game? Building missiles and nuclear bombs is not that hard.
6.22.2006 3:19pm
Taeyoung (mail):
Why would a North Korean ICBM be such a big deal? Do we really think that they would be so suicidal as to actually bomb the U.S.? Why would they do so?
It's not that they would do so, so much as that they want to have it as a credible deterrent against the possibility of our intervening in the Korean peninsula, if and when the war resumes.

Some people think that the North Korean regime has abandoned its plans to reunify the peninsula under North Korean leadership -- I am not one of them. During reunification talks in the 70's, they were boring invasion tunnels under the DMZ, after all. I assume they still would like to, if they could.

At the moment, though, they couldn't beat South Korea if they wanted to, since they're coming off a major famine and South Korea's military is actually quite good. But my take is that they're biding their time now, waiting until the situation shifts in their favour. Young people in the ROK, for example, oppose mandatory military service (for obvious reasons), and perhaps the ROK military will shrink in future years. North Korea is very keen on preventing the GNP from returning to power too, and would prefer a government bent on conciliation and military drawdown. Factoring in South Korea's plummeting birthrate, the North Korean regime might be willing to gamble that in 10 or 20 years, events will have shifted in their favour.

At that point, however, whenever that point comes, they will need to prevent outside forces from intervening, because if outside forces intervene, North Korea will lose, and badly. So the US and Japan need to be deterred from intervening on behalf of South Korea. Nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles are a credible deterrent. We might want to save the 13th largest economy in the world. But not at the expense of the second largest economy in the world (Japan), or our own cities.

A secondary purpose to developing nuclear weapons (mounted on shorter range ballistic missiles) is that they would provide North Korea with a nontrivial tactical advantage in invading South Korea. Next time around, if the South Koreans hole up in Pusan again, rather than trying to invade, they can just nuke them. South Korea is full of fortified emplacements too, and nukes would be helpful in reducing them. ICBM's have nothing to do with this though.
6.22.2006 3:20pm
Christopher Hasbrouck (mail):
Don't apologize. You were correct for calling me dumb. I failed to take into account how many hundreds of billions of dollars in GDP? Ignoring/forgetting/whatever something like that is absurd.

Thank you for putting me in my place.

(Note: If we come to the conclusion that North Korea somehow won't attack South Korea if we blow up the ICBM, I'd definitely endorse the operation)
6.22.2006 3:21pm
Dan28 (mail):

I take it that isn't your understanding of what has occurred, but would you concede that it's a possible scenario? If you did think that is what ocurred, would you still have confidence that negotiations were a useful path?

Yeah, that isn't my understanding of what occured, and while I'm sure that Taeyoung knows far more about every aspect of this conflict than I do, I believe that is a minority opinion amoung experts on such matters. Nonetheless, I do not consider North Korea a 'good faith' trading partner; as far as I'm concerned, they deserve no trust whatsoever. Whatever concessions we buy from NK would have to be thoroughly verified.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying this is a good option. I'm saying that it is better than the alternatives. If someone could propose something that would be more likely to work, I'd be happy to hear it.
6.22.2006 3:25pm
Taeyoung (mail):
I'm sure that Taeyoung knows far more about every aspect of this conflict than I do, I believe that is a minority opinion amoung experts on such matters.
Flattering, but probably not correct -- I'm not a Korean official, after all, or a nuclear policy expert, and approach the situation at a remove.

As far as minority opinion goes, you may be correct. But I think even our intelligence services have acknowledged that before the Agreed Framework, North Korea had extracted several kilograms of weaponisable plutonium (enough for at least one bomb, and probably two or three). Korean and Japanese intelligence apparently indicate about twice as much plutonium removed as American intelligence, but either way, they had enough material for a bomb at that point.

The question is whether they had a working detonation system -- for plutonium, my understanding is that this would be an implosion-type device. We developed one by 1945, so it doesn't seem implausible that they could have developed one by 1993 (when they decided to withdraw from the NPT). Even if they did not have one by 1993, under the 1994 Agreed Framework, we and the IAEA only had visibility into their Yongbyon reactor operations, as far as I know. We could verify that they were not extracting additional nuclear material. We could not, as far as I know, verify that they were not developing or refining the mechanism for an implosion device. We can verify that they have not yet tested a live nuke. I don't think we can test anything more than that.

The other thing to note is that after the signing of the Agreed framework -- within a year or two after signature, in fact -- North Korea appears to have turned around and started in on weaponising uranium. It was this program we confronted them with in 2002, I believe, as we'd gotten hard evidence that they were using a gaseous diffusion process to purify uranium.

Anyhow, they seem not to have had the slightest intention of adhering to the Agreed Framework, even if they didn't have nukes then.
6.22.2006 3:40pm
Dan28 (mail):

However, what if more two-bit dictators decide to start playing this game?

Two reasons why North Korea is unique:

1) They have the third largest army in the world (hardly a two-bit dictator), behind only China and India.
2) Any other country trying a similar strategy would have to be willing to accept complete economic and diplomatic isolation, which would probably ensure their people would be poor to the point of near-starvation. Most people aren't willing to accept that; the North Koreans are willing to accept it only because of the utter totalitarian nature of the North Korean state. (Their people think that the U.N. aid trucks that provide them with food do so not out of pity, but as tribute to their national greatness). If North Korea didn't already exist, it would be very hard to construct a similar state anywhere else in the world.

Taeyoung's concern for a future North Korean invasion of ROK is legitimate, but I think a peacefull resolution is more likely. The North Korean government cannot possibly last if their people make contacts with the outside world. If the Sunshine Policy of South Korea is allowed to expand, and North Koreans are exposed to the truth of their situation, I believe their government will crumble, and quickly, much like East Germany. The current U.S. policy undermines these efforts by ROK, which IMO are the ultaimte solution to the conflict.
6.22.2006 3:45pm
SG:
Dan28:

If you don't trust North Korea to honor any agreement and you've ruled out the use of force, on what basis do you think there can be a negotiated settlement?

Assume that there's a robust verification protocol in place and it reveals a violation of this hypothetical agreement. The worst that can be done (since you've ruled out force) is to cease with any incentives that we're providing. That's exactly the status quo. Since North Korea seems content with the current situation, they have no incentive to live up to any bargain. They can always revert back to the acceptable status quo.

There's no downside to them in taking our food, fuel and cash for as long as we'll give it to them, and then declaring any deal null whenever it suits their purposes. That's what they did with the NPT treaty. Maybe (maybe) a negotiated settlement could buy time, but it's definitely not clear who's interests are best served by playing for time.
6.22.2006 4:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mark. They would do it if they thought they could get away with it. Not if they could get away with it, which they would find out afterwards. If they thought so before trying.

Why would they think so? It hardly matters. They're nuts. They could easily misconstrue our democrats' BDS as real pacificism. Which is may well be, or may not, but it wouldn't matter afterwards.
They may choose to pay overmuch attention to some public figure who campaigns against retaliation on the plausible grounds that we would think it immoral to murder millions of Nork sillyvilians for no reason at all--they had nothign to do with it.
I've heard it said that Hitler paid too much attention to the Oxford Union debate of 1933, and the Norks too much attention to Dean Acheson's speech in 1950 saying that Korea was not in our sphere of interest.
Did the Argy generals misunderstand when they started the Falklands War? Sure did.

It's a really, really bad idea to insist that another's view of reality is the same as our view of reality, and it's especially tricky when the view of reality happens to justify the most convenient course of action on our part.
6.22.2006 4:05pm
Dan28 (mail):

The worst that can be done (since you've ruled out force) is to cease with any incentives that we're providing.

First, I don't believe that I have ruled out force. I believe that there is no plausible military option, and the North Koreans know there is no plausible military option, and therefore the threat of force is nothing but ineffective bluster.

Second, the hope is that the North Koreans calculate the benefits of any agreement with the United States (domestic nuclear energy, for example) outweigh the benefits of violating the treaty by building nuclear weapons. Since I believe that their primary purpose in building nuclear weapons is to get a favorable treaty from the United States, I suspect that this might be persuasive, but I am certainly not assuming that to be the case. And yes, the hope is to buy time. The government of North Korea is a relic from a previous age. We know it has no future.
6.22.2006 4:14pm
SG:
Dan28:

Of course there's a plausible military option. If they're wasn't one the Korean peninsula would be unified under North Korean rule. The question is under what circumstances does military conflict become the least bad option.

FWIW, I don't think this missile test meets that threshold.
6.22.2006 4:28pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I've noticed little mention of the PRC in this discussion. To assume that China would stand by while the USA launches even a surgical strike on a PRC ally is a bit of a stretch, particularly since the PRC's longterm policy seems to be aiming towards the gradual disengagement of the USA from East Asia and its eventual replacement by the PRC as the primary superpower in the region. (Something that is also probably also in the best long-term interests of the USA.) The optimum policy for the USA might, in fact, be to threaten our total withdrawal from the region unless the PRC, the RKO, and Japan cooperate to deal with a threat that is after all in their immediate territories and most immediately dangerous to them to them.
6.22.2006 4:28pm
Shangui (mail):
Taiwanese citizens are well aware of a monstrous threat from the ChiComs should they ever declare independence but still have about a plurality in favour.

Can you cite a single poll from Taiwan to support this assertion? Chen Shuibian, certainly the most pro-independence important political figure, currently has an approval rating in the single digits. There may well be a plurality of Taiwanese who would like Taiwan to be a formally independent country (as I personally very much feel it should be), but there's certainly not a plurality in favor of declaring independence at this time.
6.22.2006 4:57pm
Dan28 (mail):

The question is under what circumstances does military conflict become the least bad option.

In that case, we are in complete agreement. I think it is unlikely that North Korea will present us with a situation in which it is clear that war is the preferable option, but it is certainly conceivable.

Incidentally, the PRC is loving the growing split between ROK and the US. Bush's cavilier policy towards North Korea has angered so many people in ROK that one of the most passionate allies of the United States is increasingly looking to China as its primary regional ally. This administration has no talent for the subtle diplomacy required in Asia. As a result, the PRC's sphere of influence grows - and our own influence wanes.
6.22.2006 5:00pm
WHOI Jacket:
And I'm sure that that the ROK will find a very supportive ally in the PRC.............

Can we re-arm Japan and let them deal with it?
6.22.2006 5:32pm
Medis:
Christopher,

I think Taeyoung's analysis is also (conditionally) compelling: if it is true that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons as cover for an invasion of South Korea, then at some point we may have to intervene anyway, even if it risks sparking an immediate invasion of South Korea. But I do think that ultimately this is less about a direct threat to the United States proper, and mostly about threats to our interests in the region.

SG,

I would assume that North Korea would eventually break any deal we made and then hold us up for another new and improved payout. I know that this very idea makes a lot of people think that such a deal is therefore unwise, but I actually think that repeatedly "buying time" in this fashion could be the best of the possible strategies.

In particular, I think that question in turn depends on North Korea's long term goals. If their long term goal is to secretly acquire nuclear weapons and then invade South Korea, we probably have to draw the line at some point. But if their goal is simply to get western aid to perpetuate their regime as long as possible, then it might be the least-bad option.

Of course, here I am also engaging in my own realpolitik: it is not doing the people of North Korea any favors to perpetuate the North Korean regime. But if that is the price we have to pay to keep North Korea from starting a regional war, perhaps with nuclear weapons involved, then it might be what we have to do.
6.22.2006 5:34pm
Taeyoung (mail):
that one of the most passionate allies of the United States is increasingly looking to China as its primary regional ally.
This may be the case -- it started with Kim Dae Jung, though, since as a dissident, he was oriented against the dictatorship and its successor parties, which were allied with the United States. The last pro-American Korean President was probably Kim Young Sam.

The Korean orientation towards China also has at least as much to do with simple economic realities as it has to do with North Korea, and has been a similarly long-term development not really traceable to Bush's policies. Frankly, China is a big economy, full of cheap labour, and it's right across the Bohai from Korea. Young Koreans (and old Koreans) see huge economic opportunity as China develops.

Some Koreans also see China's rise as a major threat to Korean economic development, because China (being huge, with central regulation) will be a much more attractive investment prospect than Korea -- you'll get access to a larger workforce and a larger market for the same fuss. Turning Korea into one of the major investors in Chinese economic development helps secure Korea an influential place in a China-dominated East Asian economic community.

Really, without suppressing Chinese economic development, there's no way we could prevent Chinese influence from increasing, at the expense of our own. They're right there. We're way over here. Korea was a protectorate of China until the Treaty of Shimonoseki, after the Sino-Japanese War, allowed the Korean king to conduct his own foreign policy. There's a huge Korean population living in Manchuria. Korean students, for over a thousand years, have been required to learn Chinese characters in school. Korean government, for as long or longer, has used a Chinese model as its guide. There's historical ties and cultural commonality there from which the US is excluded.

As far as Korea as a "passionate" ally of the United States, really, it wasn't the Koreans who were passionate about it. Not uniformly, certainly -- although the older generation, liberated from the Japanese by US invasion and then defended from North Korea by US occupation, apparently tend to be (and remain) more consistently pro-US than their children or their grandchildren. The people who were really passionate about the US-alliance were the military presidents (Chung Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo) and their governments. I suspect the protesters, like those massacred at Kwangju, were . . . not so keen on the US.
6.22.2006 5:34pm
Dirc (mail):
Well, it is a pleasure to read an article by a pair of Democrats who are not afraid to use US military power to advance our national interests. I do wish they would consider the potential consequences of a preemptive US attack on North Korea test missile launch a little further.

The authors consider, and dismiss, only one NK option: starting an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. They believe that such a war would end in North Korean defeat in a few weeks. That is certainly one possible outcome of such a war, but I think that it is not the most probable outcome. It is more likely that the war will open with tremendous destruction in South Korea, as North Korea fires its artillery at Seoul. The ROK might well blame the US for the war, and might refuse to participate in any offensive operations across the armistice line. Without ROK support, the US does not have enough ground forces to conquer NK. I doubt the ROK would be enthusiastic about a war that was reopened by the US (in their view) without their approval.

Short of war, NK has other options:

1. Do nothing. The authors think that North Korea will do this.
2. Ask China to host the next North Korean test launch. Would the US launch the same preemptive strike on Chinese soil?
3. Ask China or Russia to sell it some long-range missiles. Either country might agree, since they both have an interest in seeing as many problem areas in the world for the US as possible.
4. Announce that they consider the 1953 armistice to be suspended and that they plan to resume military operations in 30 days. Then tell South Korea that they will continue to honor the armistice if South Korean will expel all US forces from South Korea.
5. Ask China and Russia to refer the US to the Security Council for violating the armistice.

If I were the Ultimate Leader of NK, I would pick options 2, 4 and 5. China would probably use the test launch request as leverage against the US, and anything that weakens the US is a gain for NK. Threatening war (as opposed to waging it) gives NK the opportunity for a huge gain at no cost. The South Koreans might be angry enough with the US for putting
them at risk that they might agree to the demand. And if they don't, NK can let the deadline expire and do nothing. Requesting Security Council referral would have comic and irritation value. It would never pass, but it might provide a platform for embarrassing the US.

The problem for the US is that we have no good options and no leverage. A "regime change" war would be extremely expensive and bloody (and make the war in Iraq seem cheap by comparison).

Any military action would show the split between US interests and the interests of its two principal allies, the ROK and Japan. The ROK and Japan want to continue to buy North Korea off. While they would prefer that NK not acquire nuclear weapons and missiles, they want to avoid war at all costs. They believe that they will always be able to afford the protection payments that NK will demand, and those, in any case, will be cheaper than the costs of a war.

China is the only country with substantial leverage over NK,
since NK is dependent on China for the imports that keep the
country from collapsing. China, at present, has no interest in using their influence to stop NK from acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles, since they want to keep NK in play as a threat to US interests.

I believe that the best available policy option for the US is containment.

a. Refuse bilateral talks with NK. Negotiated agreements are useless, since NK already violated the last agreement.
b. Do not send any aid to NK.
c. Try to persuade ROK and Japan to limit their aid to NK.
d. Build defenses against ballistic missiles.
e. Wait for Kim Jong-Il to die.

There is no guarantee that the next ruler would be any better (from our point of view) than current one, but he is unlikely to be worse.

China is really the key to stopping North Korea without resorting to war. Only they have the leverage necessary. I don't know of any way to persuade them that keeping ICBMs and nukes out of North Korea's hands is in their interest. Does anyone have any ideas on how to do that?
6.22.2006 5:55pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
What ever happened to the Kantian approach to ethics (e.g., the Golden Rule)

I'm starting to agree with the pacifists here. Let's wait to see if North Korea nukes us, before we take any rash action. We wouldn't want to risk North Korea crushing the poor helpless South Korean military...



Dear God...
6.22.2006 5:55pm
The Real Bill (mail):
How about this policy:

A) Announce that we will remove all of our troops from South Korea during a period of 2 years.

B) Actually remove them.

South Korea can defend itself. It's GDP is ~40 times that of North Korea.
6.22.2006 6:06pm
cfw (mail):
APS:

"The optimum policy for the USA might, in fact, be to threaten our total withdrawal from the region unless the PRC, the RKO, and Japan cooperate to deal with a threat that is after all in their immediate territories and most immediately dangerous to them to them."

Interesting suggestion. If the US was willing to back away from Japan, Russia, ROK and China as trade partners, or put a tax on that trade, to be collected until NK drops its WMD, we might see some willingness in China, ROK, Japan and Russia to work with us to efficiently crush the NK WMD program.

Apparently no one of the other five feels as threatened as the US. It might be interesting to see if the US electorate would by referendum support a 10% tax on imports from China, ROK, Japan and Russia pending removal of WMD's from NK.

No doubt GM and Ford would approve of such a tax, though Wal Mart would have concerns about shifting to suppliers from Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

With a reasonable amount of lead time, say phase-in of the tax over three years, I suspect the US economy could be reasonably protected. If NK did not budge, at least we would have some $$ for a war, or deficit reduction.
6.22.2006 6:12pm
Jeek:
I doubt the ROK would be enthusiastic about a war that was reopened by the US (in their view) without their approval.

It is a mystery to me why so many people in this thread assume we would do anything to North Korea without ROK approval. I think it is obvious we would not. I am also sure that scenarios like this have been extensively discussed and wargamed many, many times since the 1998 missile test if not before. I bet the ROK government and the US government already have a clear idea of what each would do in the event of another missile test (or imminent test).

Ask China and Russia to refer the US to the Security Council for violating the armistice.

Gee, can we go to the UN, too? Firing a missile out of North Korean territory also violates the armistice.

Any military action would show the split between US interests and the interests of its two principal allies, the ROK and Japan.

Again, you're assuming we're acting independently from the ROK and Japan. I think we are not and will not. Therefore no split.

I believe that the best available policy option for the US is containment.

By your own logic, containment cannot succeed, since the Chinese are determined to provide North Korea with missiles and nuclear weapons.
6.22.2006 6:16pm
hey (mail):
Shangyu: support for independence has been moving in and around a plurality for independence, and there certainly have at least been recent moments when a UDI would have a plurality of support. We can argue over Shui Ban's support vs UDI support, but it's not an irrelevant point.

2: Dan28 was saying that any action would result in annihilation of Seoul, so we can not take any action. This is a reprise of the Dem's stance on any foreign engagement since the 60s and was a broadly accepted position previous to that, though vigourously opposed by Scoop Jackson and limply opposed by JFK (look back at game theory review of Cuban Missile Crisis, you'll find that the Sovs were much less blood thirsty than their fellow travellers gave them credit for, and the war party could have pushed them down much faster than the pinko containment strategy did).

London was Blitzed, Paris was attacked in WWI, and in neither case did the government change its policies 1 iota. All UK needed to do was to cede Europe to Hitler and they could have had a peace (of at least a few years) instead of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Mosley et al demanded surrender. Real men said no.

Dan aka Mosley wants to surrender to the barabrian (you were at the NION rallies against the Afghan campaign too weren't ya babe?) since there is a chance he would slaughter 20M people. I call BS. There are plenty of other options, and we have much better leverage: threaten Beijing. KJI is their Frankenstein, and it would be very easy to slag China if they don't rein him in. Y'all claim that China can force us out, but as per usual with lefties playing strategy, you never see our opponents as moral characters themselves or see how we have other options. The US can credibly threaten to send the ChiComs back to the rice paddies, and no one in their fascist government wants that. They like having Frankenstein to screw with the US, but they have many vital interests that can easily be threatened. Then you can bring up the game by going strategic...

PRC can be subdued and sent back to Qing Dynasty of being split into many foreign fiefs. They have no ability to project power (outside of a few ICBMs) and are the enemy US forces are designed to deal with. Ballistic submarines to deal with DPRK while main forces and the Japanese eliminate PRC... taht gives you some interesting games for the ChiComs to think about before backing DPRK up on its mad quest. As always, the leftists are actively, intentionally hurting the US' position by trying to take options off the table and declaring them Anathema. They are, if you don't want the US to win, and if you are trying to silence debate but preventing falsely small option sets.
6.22.2006 6:22pm
Taeyoung (mail):
Re: cfw
Apparently no one of the other five feels as threatened as the US.
I'm pretty sure Japan actually feels quite threatened, probably rather more than us. It's not coincidental that the Japanese government has been seriously considering rewriting the constitution we imposed on them to allow formal rearmament, has been engaging in (in post-WWII terms) extremely aggressive exercise of military power in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been our major partner in working on missile defense systems. Part of this is a broader resurgence of Japanese nationalism, but part of this is also that the missile the DPRK fired over Japan woke policymakers up to the unfortunate reality that they're sitting in North Korea's sights.

The South Koreans are also probably feeling pretty threatened too -- hence their anxiety that we might refuse to give in to the madman with the gun pointed at their head. It's a different kind of anxiety though, since there's pretty much nothing they can do but give the man their wallet.
6.22.2006 6:23pm
Medis:
cfw,

If I recall correctly, China, Japan, and South Korea are not only #3, #4, and #7 respectively in total trade, but also #4, #3, and #7 respectively in exports. Such tariffs would be bad for the US economy in any event, but a trade war with those countries would be absolutely awful.
6.22.2006 6:33pm
SG:
Were I in charge, I'd consider informing the PRC that, given the nuclearization of the North Korea, we might consider it to be in the best interests of South Korea, Japan and even Taiwan to develop their own nuclear deterrent capabilities.

I think it might encourage the PRC to come around to our way of thinking on nuclear proliferation.
6.22.2006 6:47pm
Shangui (mail):
Shangyu: support for independence has been moving in and around a plurality for independence, and there certainly have at least been recent moments when a UDI would have a plurality of support. We can argue over Shui Ban's support vs UDI support, but it's not an irrelevant point.

Again, show me a single poll. I certainly agree that a lot of people want formal independence for Taiwan, but I've never seen a poll showing more than something like 20-30% in favor of a declaring formal independence for the simple reason that they have a legitimate fear of the PRC's reaction. And by the way, Shuibian is his given name. His surname is Chen.

PRC can be subdued and sent back to Qing Dynasty of being split into many foreign fiefs.

Um, for much of the Qing it was the largest nation on the planet. Even when parts of it were colonized it was only very small parts. Is your suggestion here that "foreign" powers (whoever they may be) should invade China and divide it up among themselves? If so, congrats for the single most moronic suggestion in the thread. What great good would this accomplish that would justify destroying the US economy and that of much of the rest of the world, not to mention costing the lives of millions of people? The US can't even control a bunch of guys with explosives in coffee cans in Iraq, do you really think we'll be able to take down the PLA with ease?


I'd consider informing the PRC that, given the nuclearization of the North Korea, we might consider it to be in the best interests of South Korea, Japan and even Taiwan to develop their own nuclear deterrent capabilities.


This is actually a very interesting idea. Taiwan started a nuclear weapons program many years ago but was forced by the US to stop.
6.22.2006 7:30pm
cfw (mail):
"If I recall correctly, China, Japan, and South Korea are not only #3, #4, and #7 respectively in total trade, but also #4, #3, and #7 respectively in exports. Such tariffs would be bad for the US economy in any event, but a trade war with those countries would be absolutely awful."

Trade war would be awful compared to what? Not compared to having a city like LA nuked. At any rate, the US has to somehow balance trade with China, in particular, at some time. One cannot run a huge trade deficit forever. China, Japan and SK could choose to fight with US (retaliate against trade) or make life harder for Kim Jong Il. I suspect they would help face down KJI before trying to hurt the US economy (making it harder for US consumers to buy exports).

SK is showing a serious lack of spine, it seems. The artillery risk should cause them to seek arms to deal with artillery (radar and cannons for counter-battery fire). Build the sort of shelters needed to protect the population. Ask for troops from Japan, China, Russia, US. Build up (or borrow) the air force and navy needed. Take some loans and build up the needed tank force. Pay for soldiers to join the SK Army - build a volunteer force of the sort we have in the US.

If China says it will stand by NK, we know who we can count on in the GWOT, right?

Arguing for "handing over the wallet" sounds too much like what Chamberlain did back in the 30's. If SK insists on a "we give up" approach, the US probably should tax the SK trade - better to deal with countries we can count on to help out in the GWOT, or just build Samsung/Hyundai/Hanjin/LG, etc. products in the US, Taiwan, Canada, India, Australia, etc..
6.22.2006 7:32pm
Dirc (mail):
My responses to Jeek's comments.


Jeek wrote:
It is a mystery to me why so many people in this thread assume we would do anything to North Korea without ROK approval.


I assume that the ROK would not approve any military action, which is why, when considering US mililtary action, I wrote of it in terms of a unilateral strike.

Dirc wrote:
Ask China and Russia to refer the US to the Security Council for violating the armistice.

Jeek wrote:
Gee, can we go to the UN, too? Firing a missile out of North Korean territory also violates the armistice.


If the missile is fired at a neighbor, then you are right, it is a violation of the armistice. However, I assume that a "test launch" would not have a neighbor as its aim point.


Dirc wrote:
Any military action would show the split between US interests and the interests of its two principal allies, the ROK and Japan.

Jeek wrote:
Again, you're assuming we're acting independently from the ROK and Japan. I think we are not and will not. Therefore no split.

My reading of the situation is that ROK and Japan will not approve of military action under the current state of affairs. I will go further and say that I don't believe that the ROK and Japan would approve of US military action against North Korea unless North Korea attacked someone directly. If my estimate of the situation is correct, then US military action would necessarily show a split between the US and its two regional allies.


Jeek wrote:
By your own logic, containment cannot succeed, since the Chinese are determined to provide North Korea with missiles and nuclear weapons.

You are right that by my logic containment cannot prevent NK from acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles. What I was trying to convey is that in my view there is no practical US policy that would achieve the objective of keeping missiles and nuclear weapons out of NK hands. War, in this instance, is not a practical policy.
6.22.2006 7:47pm
Dan28 (mail):

SK is showing a serious lack of spine, it seems.

They live under the shadow of an overwhelming military force and you sit safely at your computer halfway accross the world and call them cowards? For not inviting a war in our name that would be an absolute apokolypse for them? Do you have any understanding of the significance of war? You act like this is some schoolyard fight. It's a metropolitan area of 20 million people that could be absolutely leveled. We're talking like, take September 11 and multiply it by 500.

I'm not even going to address the rest of your post, since it is obvious you don't understand the situation at all (for example, South Korea has mandatory conscription and a much larger army than the United States). But seriously dude. Do not get judgmental about others operating in situations that you don't remotely understand. You end up sounding really obnoxious.
6.22.2006 8:36pm
Jeek:
If the missile is fired at a neighbor, then you are right, it is a violation of the armistice. However, I assume that a "test launch" would not have a neighbor as its aim point.

Doesn't need to have it as an aim point - even shooting it over Japan is a highly provocative act, and the Japanese Prime Minister has warned that Japan will take "severe action" if they do.
6.22.2006 8:44pm
cfw (mail):
"They live under the shadow of an overwhelming military force and you sit safely at your computer halfway accross the world and call them cowards?"

I have been to Seoul and represented Hanjin, Hyundai, Samsung and LG. My father served in Korea as an engineer in the Korean Wra. No one considers the citizens of SK cowards. The Brits are not cowards but they erred with Chamberlain, yes? Warning against error is of course reasonably safe here in LA, but it should not be construed as claiming cowardice.

"For not inviting a war in our name that would be an absolute apokolypse for them? Do you have any understanding of the significance of war?"

My service was as a Captain in Germany for 4 years in 1981-85 - 8th Infantry (Mech) then V Corps. Nuclear capable units. Quite well-equipped to level several Seoul-sized cities.

"You act like this is some schoolyard fight."

It is bullying by NK of the sort that the Brits and French failed to properly face down in the 1930's, yes?

"It's a metropolitan area of 20 million people that could be absolutely leveled. We're talking like, take September 11 and multiply it by 500."

Europe and the US had larger risks they faced in the Cold War. The risks are still there, with extreme Islamics. When a risk arises that SK can help manage, it can and should do its part to squash the risk, yes? One reduces the risk here, perhaps, by beefing up SK and facing down NK, as the Brits and French could and should have done with the dictators they faced in the 30's.

"I'm not even going to address the rest of your post, since it is obvious you don't understand the situation at all (for example, South Korea has mandatory conscription and a much larger army than the United States)."

I suspect you are wrong about the size of the SK Army vs. size of US Army (say 1.4 million). My point is that SK with say 500,000 from SK plus 100,000 each from US, Russia, Japan, China, plus better planes and technology than NK can field, could face down NK and win without firing a shot. That happened in Europe, why not also in Asia?

One does not impress with mention of mandatory conscription vs. hiring SK soldiers who volunteer to serve (and properly funding the troops). SK with its allies has the $$, equipment, manpower and population to raise forces sufficent to dominate NK, and force the abandonment of WMD's by NK, like NATO faced down the Soviet Union.

"But seriously dude. Do not get judgmental about others operating in situations that you don't remotely understand. You end up sounding really obnoxious."

And your background in military affairs is what? You have what precedent to support your "give them the wallet" approach?
6.22.2006 9:32pm
Taeyoung (mail):
SK is showing a serious lack of spine, it seems. The artillery risk should cause them to seek arms to deal with artillery (radar and cannons for counter-battery fire). Build the sort of shelters needed to protect the population. Ask for troops from Japan, China, Russia, US. Build up (or borrow) the air force and navy needed. Take some loans and build up the needed tank force. Pay for soldiers to join the SK Army - build a volunteer force of the sort we have in the US.
Or better yet, just start moving the Blue House and other essential government and industry functions down further south to reduce the impact of any North Korean strike . . . the government proposed that actually, but were not successful. Maybe next time.
6.22.2006 9:42pm
Sebastianguy99 (mail):
While reading the comments on this thread one thought keeps repeating in my mind. How easy it is to intellectualize military action when one only has a remote(if any) stake in any price that may be paid as a result of that action.

So many seem so bold and so sure of their positions, yet aren't willing to back their stance with actual military service. This is not to say that there are not some who advocate for miltary strike and have served, or are currently serving.

I have come to the realization that a return of the draft is indeed in order. As things stand today a too narrow portion of the populace has to pay the price for decisions that are made increasing by people who talk tough but refuse to serve. Perhaps if we had to demonstrate our spine rather than write about it things would be different.

I dare say that if one has seen war up close that it may not then be so easy to reduce to a philosophical certainty the risk of millions of deaths of people who wish not to die.

How refreshing it would be to hear from someone in this "debate" who has had to try to hold in the guts of a fellow soldier give us a reality-based perspective(taking either position).

Think about it, wouldn't this exercise benefit from someone currently serving in the DMZ? How about a fellow law student/lawyer/professor in South Korea or Japan? How can any position be well grounded without the imput of all the stakeholders?

No matter what position one takes, there is more than a small amount of disingenuousness in both the article and this discussion.
6.22.2006 10:25pm
Medis:
cfw,

I don't understand your logic. You have the United States screwing its own economy by imposing unilateral tariffs on these other countries in order to put pressure on them to do something about North Korea. Your condition was that you would keep on screwing the US economy "until NK drops its WMD". And so you assume that other countries would rather deal with North Korea than participate in a trade war.

But for the same reasons, this should be a bad idea for us too--just like these other countries, WE should also prefer to deal with North Korea than to participate in a trade war. In other words, you have inconsistent assumptions: that a trade war wouldn't hurt the United States, but somehow that it would hurt these other countries so badly that they would start to do our bidding on North Korea.

Incidentally, it is just plain silly to present this as a choice between starting a trade war or letting LA get nuked. For one thing, you have no idea if this plan would actually work to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions. But it would be guaranteed to cost the US economy billions of dollars, even assuming no trade retaliation (which, again, is a ridiculous assumption).

And the bottomline is that this really isn't about North Korea nuking LA. No one really thinks North Korea wants to do that. Our actual interest in this region is precisely the economic interests you are so willing to toss aside. So you are basically trying to "win" this conflict by sacrificing the interests we are trying to protect in the first place.

Which makes no sense.
6.22.2006 10:42pm
Josh_Jasper (mail):
Why the hell are all the pundits (and posters here) not considering one *simple* move that would pretty much topple North Korea.

End the "Sunshine Policy" until NK disarms. They'll starve to death.
6.22.2006 11:35pm
Jeek:
So many seem so bold and so sure of their positions, yet aren't willing to back their stance with actual military service.

The Chickenhawk argument is not only completely stale but as contemptible as ever. There is no requirement in law or logic for military service as a prerequisite for having an opinion on issues of war and peace. We do not live in the Starship Troopers society, and I am sure you would be the first to reject the argument of anyone who thumped their chest and said, "I serve in the US military, so mine are the only opinions that count!"
6.23.2006 12:55am
c.f.w. (mail):


"I don't understand your logic. You have the United States screwing its own economy by imposing unilateral tariffs on these other countries in order to put pressure on them to do something about North Korea."

10% on imports from non-cooperating countries (say China) is not much more than token. Wal Mart brings in say $300 billion from China. That nets us $30 billion. Most cars from Japan are from the US now, not Japan. The point is, send the Chinese a signal. If China wanted to retaliate, it could invest its trade surplus in the EU. But we need China's investment less, it seems to me, than they need $300 billion from WalMart. And they can get benefit from defanging NK along with the US, Japan, SK and Russia.

"Your condition was that you would keep on screwing the US economy "until NK drops its WMD". And so you assume that other countries would rather deal with North Korea than participate in a trade war."

Yes, I do assume China would rather squash NK than "trade war" with the US over a token tax of 10%.

"But for the same reasons, this should be a bad idea for us too--just like these other countries, WE should also prefer to deal with North Korea than to participate in a trade war."

NK will not keep its word, so they need to be isolated and quarantined.

"In other words, you have inconsistent assumptions: that a trade war wouldn't hurt the United States, but somehow that it would hurt these other countries so badly that they would start to do our bidding on North Korea."

I do think a 10% tax would get the attention of China without major harm to the US economy.

"Incidentally, it is just plain silly to present this as a choice between starting a trade war or letting LA get nuked. "

Trade war is your term. Charging nominally for "free riding" on US police services is another way of phrasing it.

"For one thing, you have no idea if this plan would actually work to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions."

We have the example of NATO and Soviets - containment worked. Containing NK (quarantining) would be a smaller task (less population, less land, less military equipment, less nukes, less chemical weapons, less conventional munitions). I also note the Kennedy success in backing down Soviets and Cubans (embargo, quarantine).

"But it would be guaranteed to cost the US economy billions of dollars, even assuming no trade retaliation (which, again, is a ridiculous assumption)."

Net cost to US economy of a 10% tariff is your assumption. The benefit of squashing a nuclear risk is ignored in your calculus.

"And the bottomline is that this really isn't about North Korea nuking LA. No one really thinks North Korea wants to do that."

NK would sell what it has to AQ in a NY minute for the right price, true?

"Our actual interest in this region is precisely the economic interests you are so willing to toss aside."

No, we also have security interests - keep nukes off our territory. Do not let NK become a dealer in nukes.

"So you are basically trying to "win" this conflict by sacrificing the interests we are trying to protect in the first place."

US would incur no major sacrifice (damage to economy) with a 10% tax, I suggest. And the benefit sought is peace and safety, not wealth.
6.23.2006 1:10am
David Maquera (mail) (www):
South Korea is expendable. We must take out the missile site now.
6.23.2006 1:31am
Leland (mail):
SebastianGuy99: Can we get past the tired "chickenhawk" routine. How about you push for a larger defense budget, because some of my friends missed out on commissions and enlistments due to the deep budget cuts in the 1990's? We don't need a draft, because the military doesn't need people who do not want to be there. They could use some budget for hiring those who do.
6.23.2006 2:15am
David M. Nieporent (www):
And incidentally, the first stage of an actual war with North Korea would be competely devastating for the South Koreans (as well as the Americans stationed in South Korea), who are hugely outnumbered by the 1 million+ North Korean army.
If it were a complete surprise attack by North Korea, perhaps. Otherwise, I don't think so. Not as far as the "1 million+ North Korean army" goes, anyway. Leaving aside the fact that South Korea has a rather large military also, and the fact that the border is heavily mined and otherwise well-defended, how long would it take the U.S./RoK to have complete air superiority? The North Korean air force is decades out of date, and its pilots are barely trained because North Korea doesn't have fuel to spare.

(Haven't the last three wars in the Middle East demonstrated that throwing around raw numbers of troops is pretty meaningless as a measure of military effectiveness? Their troops are undersupplied, undertrained, underfed (though well fed compared to the rest of the country), and (although I suppose I might be underestimating the effect of propaganda), probably not overly motivated.)

Unless China was to decide to replay the Korean War by entering the war on North Korea's side, a North Korean invasion of South Korea would be rapid suicide for North Korea.

No, the threat from North Korea comes from its artillery, and more specifically said artillery's proximity to Seoul. And, not to bring up the elephant in the room, WMD. Chemical and nuclear weapons. Not from the size of their army.
6.23.2006 5:34am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Freder:
The editorial suggests destroying the missile with a cruise missile on the ground before it is launched. That is different from what we were discussing yesterday where there was some discussion of shooting it down during launch, while it was actually moving. The two authors are rational enough to know our vaunted ABM system is a joke, however not rational enough to think through the consequences of deliberately attacking NK with a cruise missile.
Do you really think that you're more "rational" than the former secretary of defense and assistant secretary of defense? Do you ever consider that people who disagree with you may know as much as, or more than, you? Or may have thought things through at least as well as you?

I mean, I understand if you disagree with a politician, or if you think you're superior to all the other commenters on a website. And it's one thing to think that Perry and Carter are mistaken. But to accuse them of not being "rational" because they disagree with you? (But they're "rational" on one point -- ABMs -- only because they might agree with you?)
6.23.2006 5:40am
Medis:
c.f.w.,

With all due respect, I don't think your argument makes any sense, and it is clearly self-contradictory.

Personally, I think a 10% tariff on goods from China, Japan, and South Korea would cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, and that when China, Japan, and South Korea inevitably retaliated in kind, it would cost the U.S. economy billions more.

But you think the effects of such a tax would be merely "nominal" and a "token". Although I think you are clearly wrong, let's assume that you are right about that. If you are right about that, then it should also have only a "nominal" and "token" effect on China, Japan, and South Korea. Therefore, it could not possibly put enough pressure on them to change their North Korean policies.

The bottomline is this: the U.S. engages in foreign trade because it benefits us. Every exchange--whether it is our currency for their goods and services, our our goods and services for some of our currency back--happens only because that exchange is expected to create value for the United States. Of course, such exchanges presumably create value for the other country too, but there is no reason to assume that our trading partners benefit more from these exchanges than we do. In fact, if anything, we have shown over time that the U.S. is a very smart trading partner.

So, any burden on foreign trade inevitably hurts us as much, and perhaps more, than it hurts the foreign country. And when you are talking about burdening trade with our 3rd, 4th, and 7th largest trading partners, you are typically talking about a lot of harm. In that sense, your plan would be putting the United States in the position of the person who attempts to gain concessions by threatening to blow up others AND himself with dynamite strapped to his chest. And that threat is only credible if you believe the person is crazy enough to commit suicide--which no one believes of the United States.

Unless the burden on trade is merely "nominal", but in that case our foreign trading partners won't care either. So, either way your argument makes no sense.

By the way, although not particularly relevant, I just want to note that it always amuses me when people complain about a trade deficit. This, of course, is exactly what one should want: we are basically trading printed paper for actual goods and services, which by any standard is a pretty good deal. In other words, trading glass beads for fur, gold, or Manhattan also created a "trade deficit" for Europeans, but no one was complaining. In more modern terms, this ability to buy more foreign goods and services than we send back in return is keeping inflation relatively low compared to economic growth in the United States.

Of course, this is such a good deal it is impossible for it to happen without some other imbalance to explain it (otherwise the exchange value of this printed paper would fall until the trade balance was restored). And the actual explanation is that the exchange value of this printed paper is being sustained by a net foreign inflow of capital (which makes up the difference between domestic investment and domestic savings).

Which is also exactly what one should want: rather than invest their capital to develop the economies in their own country, foreigners are investing their capital in the U.S. economy. This is exactly what happened in the mid-to-late 19th Century as well, when foreign investors--particularly but not exclusively from Britain--helped fund building canals and railroads in the United States, eventually making sure that the 20th Century would be the American Century. And no one was complaining about that either. Again, in more modern terms, this foreign investment is keeping interest rates low compared to economic growth in the United States.

So, the net result of this trade deficit/foreign investment surplus is that it helps us sustain high economic growth with relatively low inflation and relatively low interest rates. And that is really not something to complain about.
6.23.2006 7:51am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
1 SLBM from a Trident submarine has 8 warheads, each around 475kilotons, why not launch one loaded with leaflets, letting the NKS know how vulnerable they are. We could also get some valuable information on just how accurate the missile is shooting at an actual target. They don't have to know where we're really aiming. It would be cool anyway. We're the big bullys in the school, and should start acting like it.
6.23.2006 7:55am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Sebastianguy is trying the emotional, chickenhawk argument.

Problem is, as in Iraq, the troops, by and large, support the mission. The chickenhawk argument usually presumes orhopes they won't.

The real issue is the difference in the moral and emotional load between doing something that results in horror and allowing through inaction something that results in horror. Intellectually, there is no difference. But allowing is easier than causing.
6.23.2006 9:13am
Tom Tildrum:
The cruise-missile plan being advocated by these Clinton advisors is of a piece with their actions while in power, firing a few cruise missiles in a surgical strike at al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and similarly demolishing a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. One's views on the likelihood of success of their advice as to NoKo might well depend on whether one views those earlier actions as policy successes.
6.23.2006 9:17am
Taeyoung (mail):
Re: King of the Cats:
The cruise-missile plan being advocated by these Clinton advisors is of a piece with their actions while in power, firing a few cruise missiles in a surgical strike at al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and similarly demolishing a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. One's views on the likelihood of success of their advice as to NoKo might well depend on whether one views those earlier actions as policy successes.

But the objectives in this case are much more constrained than were the objectives in the Sudan etc. Those were actually intended to seriously disrupt terrorist ability to produce chemical weapons, and probably as "decapitation" strikes as well. In this case, none of the policy options being seriously considered (ABM test / cruise missile strike / sit on hands) have any chance of achieving the kinds of results we'd hoped for in the case of the Sudan. North Korea's missile program won't collapse whether we blow up their Taepodong on the launch pad or in midair. Nor can we reasonably expect a cruise missile strike to take out Kim Jong Il and his senior executives. The standard of success we're considering here is quite different.

And, of course, the potential consequences of miscalculation are rather more severe here than in a broken state like the Sudan.
6.23.2006 10:39am
c.f.w. (mail):
Medis: The US has not much to complain about, concering China, if one focuses just on short term trade and investment statistics. Security from NK nukes - provided jointly by China, SK, US, Russia and Japan fits in where in your analysis? It does not seem irrelevant.

If China uses trade proceeds to enable NK, US should sit by and do nothing? If a 10% tariff looks too onerous, then phase it in at 3% then 6% then 10% over three years.

If Japan or SK or Russia or China want to avoid the tariff they could cooperate with men, equipment, materials, ships, planes, bases, etc. to defang NK. How does that amount to disaster for any party other than those in NK trying to bully neighbors?

One does not want to club China into submission, but one cannot take a do-nothing approach. China could say 10% tariff, who cares? But that could damage its relation with its source of $300 billion plus in yearly trade. More likely, it will move to constructively help defang NK.

The "quick fix" approach of a half dozen cruise missiles looks quick, but is not a true fix (see Taliban camps in Afghanistan, aspirin plant in Sudan, etc.). It is also bi-lateral, when the best practice would involve coalition action.
6.23.2006 10:43am
Medis:
c.f.w.,

I agree that a regional coalition approach to preventing North Korea from building a nuclear/ICBM arsenal would be a good idea. What I am suggesting is that your proposed method for building such a coalition--imposing tariffs on China, Japan, and South Korea until North Korea desists--makes no sense.

And I don't think I can make the inconsistency in your argument any clearer than I have before. My basic point is that on the one hand, you seem to think a 10% tariff (phased in or not) will not hurt the United States. But on the other hand, you seem to think this 10% tariff will hurt China, Japan, and South Korea, such that they will start doing our bidding when it comes to North Korea.

That inconsistency makes no sense. Again, we get as much or more out of trading with these countries as they get from trading with us. So, if a tariff wouldn't harm us, then it wouldn't harm them. And if a tariff would harm them, then it would also harm us. You simply can't have it both ways. In short, it makes no sense to threaten something--free trade--which actually benefits us as much or more as it benefits them.

Finally, I again think you are completely missing the big picture. North Korea does not want a nuclear/ICBM arsenal in order to actually attack the United States. There is no way that they could ever build a big enough arsenal to destroy us with a first strike, and we would completely obliterate them in retaliation.

So, their only plausible purpose in pursuing such a program is either to blackmail us for aid in exchange for them stopping (the threat being that they will otherwise sell the technology/weapons to people who might actually use them), or to prevent us from interfering in case they invade South Korea.

So, the next question you must ask is: why do we care if they invade South Korea? And the realpolitik answer is that we have a great deal of economic interests in the region, and a war in the region would be very bad for us economically.

So, finally, it makes absolutely no sense to try to pull out of the region economically in order to force the countries in the region to deal with North Korea. And that is because we are ultimately concerned about North Korea precisely because of our economic interests in the region. In short, your strategy amounts to sacrificing what we are trying to save in order to save it.

Which, as I noted before, makes no sense.
6.23.2006 11:25am
David W Drake (mail):
Medis--

Agree. No question in my mind but that NK is using the missile test (as it used its nuclear weapons program) to try to get President Bush to do what President Clinton did: Buy it off. But given the results of the Clinton policy (bought, but not bought off), why should Bush play?

I also don't believe that we will do anything without agreement from ROK and Japan, and probably at least tacit cooperation from China. I don't know what that may be.
6.23.2006 12:11pm
Medis:
David,

As I also related above, the rationale for continuing to buy them off despite the expectation that they will eventually break any deal is relatively simple. The basic idea is that even if we have to go through this cycle over and over again (deal, deal broken, new deal, new deal broken, new new deal, new new deal broken, and so on), as long as it keeps delaying both things we are worried about (nuclear technology/weapons being supplied to third parties, or an invasion of South Korea), it serves our interests to keep the cycle going.

There are at least two arguments against this view. One is that North Korea is also simply buying time to actually develop nuclear weapons at its own pace, and eventually we will need to stop them. But this counterargument is dependent on their actual strategic goals--if, rather than wanting to eventually invade the South, they actually just want the aid, then they will be as happy as we are to keep this cycle going indefinitely.

The second counterargument is that this all sucks for the North Korean people. In other words, if infusions of western aid keep the North Korean economy on indefinite life support, it may be hurting the North Korean people to delay an economic crisis that would finally force a regime change.

I don't actually have a good idealistic reply to that--it probably does suck for the North Korean people. But the realpolitik reply is that if the best policy for protecting U.S. economic and security interests ends up sucking for the North Korean people, then the North Korean people are going to have to pay that price.
6.23.2006 12:44pm
Taeyoung (mail):
The second counterargument is that this all sucks for the North Korean people. In other words, if infusions of western aid keep the North Korean economy on indefinite life support, it may be hurting the North Korean people to delay an economic crisis that would finally force a regime change.

If an economic crises were going to cause the North Korean regime to collapse, it would have collapsed earlier, no? They've already had millions of their population die in the famine, and you don't get much more "economic crisis" than that. Well, short of killing everyone.
I don't actually have a good idealistic reply to that--it probably does suck for the North Korean people. But the realpolitik reply is that if the best policy for protecting U.S. economic and security interests ends up sucking for the North Korean people, then the North Korean people are going to have to pay that price.

I don't agree with Dan28's sunny impression of Kim Dae Jung's "Sunshine Policy" (2:45PM above), because structurally, I just don't see any realistic chance of the "Sunshine Policy" actually empowering the North Korean people. But there have been developments which, in the medium and longer term, might at least improve their standard of living. Chief among these is the Kaesong industrial park, started right across the border in 2002. South Korean facilities in Kaesong are supposed to grow to employ about 700,000 North Koreans eventually. It looks like a transparent ploy for technology transfer, but the incremental threat there is easy to exaggerate (The North Korean regime already has access to some of the technologies the US is trying to restrict in Kaesong, via South Korea, Southeast Asian countries, China, and Japan). And if Kaesong succeeds, North Korea may authorise other industrial parks along the South Korean and Chinese border. It's essentially slavery, to be sure, but it's a far, far better slavery than what they've endured thus far.
6.23.2006 1:36pm
Medis:
Taeyoung,

Unfortunately, things like this can always get worse. But I agree with what I take to be your general point (and correct me if I am wrong): there is no guarantee that any particular deprivation will cause a regime change, and it is in fact possible to make the lives of some North Koreans better with some of the things the North Korean government wants, so it isn't necessarily bad for the North Korean people when other countries deal with the North Korean government.

Of course, I wasn't actually advocating that we try to precipitate a regime change through an economic crisis--indeed, I was ultimately just explaining why even if that might work, it might not be in the interests of the United States to try. So, obviously to the extent it wouldn't work, and thus would unnecessarily deprive the people of North Korea, my actual argument is just made stronger.
6.23.2006 2:04pm
cfw (mail):
Medis:

"My basic point is that on the one hand, you seem to think a 10% tariff (phased in or not) will not hurt the United States. But on the other hand, you seem to think this 10% tariff will hurt China, Japan, and South Korea, such that they will start doing our bidding when it comes to North Korea."

To make things clear, if China, SK, Japan and Russia said we will retaliate and charge an equal tariff on US outbound trade to the region at risk, with all tariff (or contributions in kind) put into a fund for defanging NK, what is not to like?

My sense is that the US will not need to do much to get the parties to align and jointly fund a defangement (ideally by peaaceful means, absent cause for war from NK) of NK.

Once NK sees a united coalition with the funds and will to defang, a gun to the head of the NK leader, in effect, the negotiations should prove fruitful in fairly short order. If France, Britain, the US and Russia had proceeded thus in 1930, perhaps they could have defanged Germany (esp. before the invasion of the Rhineland).

China has a limited amount of economic clout, compared to the US. China has few areas it can go for customers with $300 billion (EU and USA). OTOH, the US can find cheap labor and skilled entrepreneurs in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Africa, Latin America, etc.

I have represented the Port of LA and worked on Port of Long Beach matters. We see the huge flow of containers each year from China through our West Coast ports. China does not want that critical flow disrupted (nor does WalMart or the US generally).

NK gravely threatens the critical China to LA/LB transportation infrastructure by NK's saber rattling and willingness to export nuke tech to extreme Islamics. Convincing China to make the NK WMD threats stop should not take much.

What the US needs to watch for is "free riding" - China, Japan, SK, Russia letting the US fight for safety from NK at disproportionate US expense. The "let the US alone pay" approach will squash the US, in the long run, as it squashed Britain in 1900-1960.
6.23.2006 4:31pm
Medis:
cfw,

You ask: "To make things clear, if China, SK, Japan and Russia said we will retaliate and charge an equal tariff on US outbound trade to the region at risk, with all tariff (or contributions in kind) put into a fund for defanging NK, what is not to like?"

What is not to like is the economic harm caused by tariffs. And this is a point you seem to understand, because you say:

"We see the huge flow of containers each year from China through our West Coast ports. China does not want that critical flow disrupted (nor does WalMart or the US generally)."

Exactly: burdening that trade with tariffs (in either direction) will be bad for both China AND the United States.

Again, I don't know how else to say this. A tariff on goods coming from China, Japan, and South Korea will hurt the United States as much or more as it hurts them. The same goes for any tariff they impose in retaliation.

Incidentally, you say: "China has a limited amount of economic clout, compared to the US. China has few areas it can go for customers with $300 billion (EU and USA). OTOH, the US can find cheap labor and skilled entrepreneurs in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Africa, Latin America, etc."

If other places could supply us with the same goods and services at the same price or lower as China, we would already be buying those goods and services from those places. So, switching to those suppliers in response to a tariff would mean that we would be paying more for those goods and services, which means we would increase inflation for US producers of these goods and services.

Of course, you are right it works the same way for China: they will presumably be able to get less for their goods and services if they have to sell them elsewhere in response to a tariff (eg, Japan, the EU, China itself, etc.), because otherwise they would already be selling them elsewhere.

But again, the fact China is being hurt by these tariffs won't change the fact that the United States is also being hurt by these tariffs. Both countries will be denied the benefit of the best deal they would otherwise like to make, and that argument applies equally well to both sides of the deal.

Anyway, we are just going in circles. You seem to think that tariffs will hurt our trading partners enough to make them do our bidding, but somehow won't hurt us. I've tried to explain that tariffs hurt us as much as they hurt them, but for some reason you seem to be denying this. I can't figure out how you could fail to see that tariffs would hurt us as much as they hurt them, but if you insist on believing that, there isn't much more I can say.
6.23.2006 5:01pm
Medis:
Oops: I have a "producers" which should be a "consumers".
6.23.2006 5:17pm
cfw (mail):
Medis:

You are right that a tariff (a tax) imposes a cost on the US and on the trading partners, in my scenario. What you overlook is that it also creates a benefit - a fund to defang NK.

You propose business as usual, ignoring the risk. That makes sense if you assume NK will simply defang itself. If you assume NK will develop long range missiles and nukes and pass WMD tech to OBM, then what should the trading partners pay to avoid that?

3-10% more for each purchase from WalMart, to build a joint "defang NK" fund? Sounds ok to me.

Taxing relevant trade in this scenario, where US efforts to defang NK create positive externalities for relevant trading partners, makes more sense than raising the money internally, yes?

A modest tax or tariff also gives China a reasonable incentive toward defanging NK, the country supported by China (with blood of its sons) in the Korean War. One must give a way for the Chinese to "save face" while defanging NK. No tax or tariff and Chinese look like fickle betrayers of NK. A tax or tariff lets the Chinese treat the matter as "crucial to economic survival of China," giving them moral justification for defanging NK.
6.23.2006 8:03pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
In short, it makes no sense to threaten something--free trade--which actually benefits us as much or more as it benefits them.
Didn't you ever watch Blazing Saddles?
6.23.2006 9:08pm
Medis:
cfw,

You ask: "Taxing relevant trade in this scenario, where US efforts to defang NK create positive externalities for relevant trading partners, makes more sense than raising the money internally, yes?"

NO. A tariff does not tax our trading partners. A tariff taxes our own consumers, drives up inflation, and drives down foreign investment, and promotes investment in inefficient firms. As a revenue measure, something like an income tax is definitely preferable.
6.23.2006 9:20pm
Medis:
David N.,

Ha! Exactly.

cfw,

By the way, to be clear, I am not saying that we should do nothing. Personally, I think buying North Korea off remains a viable option, and perhaps is the best of a bad set of options.
6.23.2006 9:49pm
c.f.w. (mail):
Medis:

"NO. A tariff does not tax our trading partners. A tariff taxes our own consumers, drives up inflation, and drives down foreign investment, and promotes investment in inefficient firms. As a revenue measure, something like an income tax is definitely preferable."

This does not follow, necessarily. The cost will be absorbed by consumers, in part, also in part by WalMart (importers) and by exporters in China. You assume complete inelasticity of demand, which is far from the case with products from China to US. Increase in inflation is based on a wrong definition of inflation, yes? The inefficient firms hypothesis assumes all costs of trade with China are included in prices paid to China - not the case here if US has to use internal taxes to pay NK not to disrupt that trade.

Tariff is an in-kind income tax - changes income (in goods) of interested parties. Chinese share cost since demand is elastic for computers, etc. Giving China a free ride concerning NK makes no economic or political sense. US can and should demand a coalition (economic at least).

Same goes for facing down Iran - consider a tariff on trade with EU, Japan, China, US (reciprocally) to fund what it will take to defang Iran. Why should US incur $500 billion of defense expenses while China spends say $30 billion for defense and EU is at say $100 billion and Japan at say $25 billion? Democrats should say let's not cut and walk - let's turn to real problems like defanging Iran and Korea.
6.24.2006 12:14pm
Medis:
c.f.w.,

You say: "The cost will be absorbed by consumers, in part, also in part by WalMart (importers) and by exporters in China. You assume complete inelasticity of demand, which is far from the case with products from China to US. Increase in inflation is based on a wrong definition of inflation, yes?"

No, a tariff gets charged to the consumers. In a competitive market, any addition to the wholesale cost for retailers gets passed onto the consumer, because the retailers are selling goods at a price equal to marginal cost. The same goes for an international market: the Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean producers are already selling at a price equal to marginal cost, so they have to pass the tariff on to the wholesalers, who have to pass it on to the retailers, who have to pass it on to the consumers.

Of course, you are right that consumers could substitute other goods if the increase in cost is too much. That is exactly what causes inflation (by the perfectly standard definition): the price paid for a certain kind of good is driven up because what was once the cheapest option (and maybe also the second, third, fourth, and so on cheapest options, because you are talking about a lot of similar producers in China, Japan, and South Korea) just got the price it must be charged at boosted by your tariff.

You also say: "The inefficient firms hypothesis assumes all costs of trade with China are included in prices paid to China - not the case here if US has to use internal taxes to pay NK not to disrupt that trade."

No consumer ever pays the full external costs of their goods in the form of taxes. That is why we need income taxes and such to begin with. If you wanted to try to subject every single good to a tax equal to its external costs, then any one of these taxes would indeed not cause a distortion. But if you single out just these particular goods for this special tax, then the distortion of production occurs because you aren't treating all goods according to this rule.

You also say: "Tariff is an in-kind income tax - changes income (in goods) of interested parties."

With all due respect, this is just silly. If you are taxing goods as they are exchanged, not income as it is realized, then you are not charging an income tax by definition.

In general, it is fine to ask other countries to pay their fair share of common external costs. But it is a very bad idea to ask consumers of certain foreign goods (but not consumers of all other goods) to pay a special tax to support the United States government. So, unless you want to go to a completely different tax system (for both foreign and domestic goods and services), your tariffs will have the effects I described.
6.24.2006 5:27pm
Sentinel (mail):
"dear leader" (you know who you are):
This hole you are digging is of your own making.If you are destined to rule, rule wisely or be peacefully replaced. There is no honor in a leader that kills his countrymen and women for the sake of twisted ideals and mental instability.
Your banking principles are askew. You think that the world hates the USA for being the "police" of the world and wish they would butt out, and you're banking that world opinon will help you hold onto power. Well, you know, you're right. #1: We butt in because we can, and there is nothing the rest of the world can do about it. #2: Yes, we do butt in occassionally when the cast of characters include King George, Emperor Hirohito, Adolph Hitler, Josef ("man of steel") Stalin, Nakita Kruschev, Ho-Chi-Min, Chang-Kai Chek (pardon my misspellings), Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and now, unfortunately, you are about to be added to the list...
Let's get to the crux of the matter. Like radical Islam (or for that matter, ALL of Islam), "dear leader", you, and the rest of your 4'-tall, brain-washed-goose-stepping zombies have it in your microscopic little brains, that they want to kill us, my fellow Americans, and everything that is good that we love in this life. It's like walking in a forest with pesky gnats constantly annoying you. Eventually you swat them, exterminate them, or get bitten constantly. Well, we proved that we are the world's best exterminator in WWII, and we're still pretty damn good at it; at present, we CHOOSE NOT to be. That's what the "dear leader", and his PR celebrations are itching to be taught the hard way (don't forget about the millions being tortured, starved, and murdered in his special camps, where is Amnesty International, the ACLU, and the UN while this travesty has unfolded)? Well, no the "dear leader's" missile is fueled on the launch-pad; it is my understanding that rocket fuel only lasts 5-10 days so something will happen one way or another within the week; again the World is at a cross-roads in history. My concern is that President Bush is growing tired in his responsibilities as the most powerful man on earth in a war-time situation since 2001. It was he who correctly stated after 9/11, "...We make no distinctions between the terrorists, and the nations who harbor them...". I wish I knew what he is he waiting for? I wish President Bush would move his chess piece and initiate a mass and immediate evacuation of all US troops from South Korea - give the "dear leader" something to ponder. South Koreans have had 56 years to learn how to defend freedom; still they have not learned the lessons of history. Who cares if the "dear leader" boasts of a 1 million-man army? As long as they stand close together, it's still an easy fight. I have never been able to figure out why we just don't wipe them out during one of their parades that show how "bad" they are. Something to ponder "dear leader", have you met our newest defenders of freedom; the Raptor, the Nighthawk, the Spirit, the EMP weaponry, and the soon-to-be revealed "rods from God" (aka. kinetic weaponry)? Do you think the "Skunkworks" and the "Black Project Team" has been sitting idle all these years waiting for you to play catch-up? Can you fight a war at 30,000 ft with all your biological and chemical weaponry? Does the term, "Death from Above" ring any bells? A word of advice "dear leader": Get a good look at all the pathetic Americans fighting amongnst themselves while you can. You will make the same mistake that Hitler and Saddam Hussein made; that you are all knowing and all powerful. All the people you see fighting amongnst themselves, like Replublicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Rich, and Poor,will all band together so quickly that you won't believe it. It's called Democracy and Love of Freedom. It isn't always pretty, but it's made us the strongest people in the history of civilization. Your weakness is that you mistake diplomacy for weakness. I hope that you are at least as shrewd as Bin Laden and have your retirement cave picked out and stocked. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. One last bit of advice: "Kill your hairdresser, no one else.

Adieu, soon-to-be the "former dear leader"... Live free or die!

An American Patriot
6.24.2006 8:59pm
c.f.w. (mail):
medis:

I agree with no tariffs to pay for internal government functions. That is the traditional objection to tariffs, and a sound objection.

That does not mean, though, avoid tariffs as needed to equalize (make more equitable at least) amounts spent to defang Iran and Korea, allowing intl trade to flourish.

Your brief is fine if you are China. They have tens to hundreds of billions to spend each year on things other than defense (such as oil and gas in the Middle East).

The US gets left holding the bag defending China from Iran and NK (Japan also free rides, along with the bulk of the EU).

How do you take care of that free-rider problem with internal taxes, or do you just ignore it? This problem came up post WWII for the US and no solution has come up, that I have seen. No wonder we need China to help finance huge deficits, eh?

Tax producing inflation - you assume that the tariff will be on top of the $500 billion spent this year for defense. In theory, it would reduce the amount needed from internal US taxes for defense. You also ignore that to the extent prices go up, they are offset by collections of the tariff (which revenue will be spent somewhere internationally, per my theory).

Tariff is more like income tax than property tax. One pays no tariff unless and until he or she moves the goods (seeking to produce income). Hence a tariff is not subject to the objection normally leveled at property taxes, which are imposed even if the owner does nothing with his or her property.
6.25.2006 2:19pm
Medis:
c.f.w.,

With all due respect, you need to read up on the economic effects of tariffs. They are not a way of imposing taxes on foreign governments and producers. They tax U.S. consumers.

You also need to read up on the difference between tariffs (and also sales taxes) and income taxes.

In general, I think all this comes down to a simple lack of understanding about trade on your part. Like many people, I think you have bought into the myth that importing goods and services is something that benefits foreigners more than it benefits the United States. And I think that until you fully understand that imports benefit the United States as much or more as they benefit our trading partners, you will keep trying to rationalize your plan.

Indeed, there is yet another glaring hole in your latest rationalization (old rationalization: tariffs will coerce China, Japan, and South Korea into doing our bidding; new rationalization: tariffs impose a tax which can be used to pay for the external costs of the trade). Why aren't you taxing EXPORTS to China, Japan, and South Korea? Don't exporters to those countries also benefit from keeping North Korea in line? Why should those exporters, and consumers in China, Japan, and South Korea, get to "free ride" on our natioanl efforts?

Of course, I'm not supporting such an idea. But the fact that you proposed an import tax but not an export tax demonstrates, I think, the reliance of your argument on your mistaken notions about trade. And again, until you understand the actual economics of tariffs, you will undoubtedly keep trying to rationalize them.
6.26.2006 8:03am