In today's Washington Post, Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard, former special U.S. envoy for negotiations with North Korea, strongly disagrees with the suggestion by William Perry and Ashton Carter that the U.S. should consider preempting North Korea's missile test.
For 1,971 days the Bush administration ignored North Korea's missile program as unimportant and unthreatening to the security of the United States. Then it woke up. Unfortunately, the alarm clock was North Korea's preparation to test a long-range missile. By simply putting a Taepodong ICBM on the launch pad, North Korea has managed to turn truly smart people into foolish ones. . . .
So what do we do now? Attack North Korea and cross our fingers in the hope it doesn't annihilate Seoul or pass weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda? Refuse to talk to the North Koreans? Take them to the U.N. Security Council and slap their wrists?
Make no mistake: A missile test is a step in the wrong direction, and the appropriate first response would be for the United States to reimpose the specific sanctions that were lifted in 2000 as a direct result of the missile moratorium.
But the missile test is not a violation of anything more than our pride, ripping a gaping hole in the false logic that talking with the North Koreans somehow rewards and empowers them. To the contrary, we should be opening avenues of dialogue with Pyongyang. . . .
By not talking with North Korea we are failing to address missiles, human rights, illegal activities, conventional forces, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and anything else that matters to the American people. Isn't it about time we actually tried to solve the problem rather than let it fester until we blow it up?