Don’t count them out yet, even though the North Koreans so far look like fools in attempting to show how they can fling nuclear doom all the way to the United States.
A communications satellite intended for the atmosphere instead went kerplunk in the deep, blue sea while they insisted that, no, it was up there, an orbiting jukebox broadcasting patriotic hymns to their sick, bed-ridden “dear leader,” Kim Jong Il.
You halfway expect Kim – also know as supreme leader, and, as far as I know, master of the universe and big daddy – to rise from that bed like some kind of mega-villain in a James Bond movie and slay the incompetents surrounding him.
But then again, his people have been tricked and this figure of cult adulation might contemplate something the famous American inventor Thomas Alva Edison once said: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Some of us are old enough to remember how, in 1957, the Russians shot Sputnik into space and the United States responded with a series of embarrassing duds until we got really good at this space thing, finally sending men to the moon.
The North Koreans could someday get good enough to commit mass murder with long-range missiles, which is why President Barack Obama immediately cried for U.N. sanctions and – perhaps eyeing the argument that other nations have as much right as America to possess nukes – pledged efforts to rid the world of all of them.
Uh, oh. Another kerplunk. China is on the U.N. Security Council, it has veto power, it might like to get some concessions from the United States itself, some contend, and is playing hard to get, to say the least. The idea of no nukes anywhere might smell sweet except that Obama himself concedes it could take the rest of his life and more for this Utopian dream to come about. Meanwhile it’s worth contemplating how our ability to retaliate massively has likely saved us from wars and may to this day deter some enemies that would as soon keep their cities intact.
The option of bowing to North Korean extortion with endless aid has the disadvantage of buttressing a Stalinist slave state that would continue to dodge attempts to verify that it’s getting out of the WMD business.
Doing nothing, some experts say, could cause an Asian arms race as Japan understandably led the way. North Korea might well share any accomplishments with terrorists and states such as Iran. It might attack us someday even if, at the moment, its technology seems amateurish and its lies the stuff of a comedic sketch on “Saturday Night Live.”
Contemplating such a possibility, we could, of course, risk combat with North Korea by leveling the places it does its nuclear work; President Bill Clinton once seemed prepared to try something of the kind, believe it or not. But as some warn– we’ve been there before – war in Korea would be appalling. Not the least of it could be the immediate loss of Seoul in South Korea.
The easiest answer is about what not to do. Congress can alter Pentagon priorities but should not weaken our military, as some members have seemed intent on doing. We should not abandon work on our missile defense systems. We should not blink.
Obama is being tested, as was predicted by gabby Vice President Joseph Biden during the campaign to the consternation of fellow Democrats. To date, he pretty much flunks in an exam that is truly tough but won’t be mastered by liberal innocence.
Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at: Speaktojay@aol.com.