View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, August 06, 2003

As Far Eastern tensions build up over North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear weapons export market, two articles worth noting. First, the Wall Street Journal has an article by James Woolsey and Thomas McInerney arguing that we need to be willing and able to fight and win a war on the Korean peninsula. They're almost certainly right, if only because the only way to make North Korea take us seriously is to not back down when they start talking war, and to make them believe we're willingto fight one. And you never wave an empty gun around.

All this makes Rumsfeld's resistance to a larger military both perplexing and worrying. Rumsfeld fought hard to get the military to accept news, lighter, more technological ways of fighting a war, and in Iraq, he proved it could work. But just as Iraq wasn't Afghanistan, neither is Korea Iraq. Any number of great powers have cometo grief by not committing overwhelming force when it was available, and by assuming that a war would be quick. Our recent experence is heartening in this regard. But we are close to the point of not having a reserve force available should things go wrong. If North Korea has nukes, they might well use them against us, and if they do, we may not be politically able to respond in kind. Any sort of long-term setback is likely to embolden our remaining enemies, and those in Europe who wish us ill, probably affecting market and economic psychology. If we can avoid it by building up now, we can ill-afford not to do so.

The second is a wire story about the mayor of Hiroshima. Every year, the mayorof Hiroshima comes out and makes some pronouncement about the evils of nuclear weapons. This particular office-holder recognizes the dangers of a potential nuclear war in his neighborhood, and blames - the United States, because of its violations of nuclear non-proliferation. Maybe he had the script upside-down.

Look, I don't doubt the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have strong, deeply-held personal feelings about the local use of nuclear weapons. But Hiroshima, even during WWII, was a small town, unimportant except for its massive military presence. Now, it's just a small, unimportant town with a history. One day a year, the mayor of Hiroshima gets a world-wide public stage to talk about the evils of irradiated cities, granted some moral prerogative to opine about world events. By what right? By the right of being mayor of a town that was on the wrong end of history almost 60 years ago. Giving a local politician, elected more for snow removal and traffic permits than for foreign policy, this kind of license is probably a mistake. But if you've got a platform, make sense! Vladimir's Bomb Factory Consultants are still occupying four of your islands, Hen Ri Ford II is trying to develop an assembly line right across the sea there, and shot a missile over your heads a few years ago, remember? Do you think if you pick on us and duck you'll come out of it all right?

No, I think there's something in the air that makes third-rate politicos think they can score points by blaming speeding tickets on cops. We'll have to ride it out, and maybe it's a price we pay for not being a victim often enough. Personally, for me, not enough is too often. But this guy's ceremonial duties on Red Hot Day, or whatever they call it, should be limited to being wheeled out, striking a bell, saying a few kind words about peace, and rolling back in for some sushi and blowfish.

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