Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Patience, Not Preemption, on the Korean Peninsula By Mitchell Lerner


"The history of North Korea suggests that its leadership acts with greatest vehemence when it is internally weak, as a way to justify its economic failures by blaming a foreign conspiracy..."
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Recently, Republican Senator James Inhofe, a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, weighed in on the growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula by endorsing a preemptive strike against North Korea.
“We should be prepared to do it right now,’’ he declared. “In terms of the capability we have out there with the F-22s and the battleships … a preemptive strike from something like that would get their attention.”
Inhofe is well known for his hard line and sometimes controversial positions, so it might be easy to dismiss his remarks if it were not for the fact that other voices, including some from more traditionally restrained sources, have started making similar arguments. Jeremi Suri, one of America’s leading diplomatic historians (and, in the interests of full disclosure, one of my closest friends), recently joined this chorus, writing in a New York Times op-ed, entitled “Bomb North Korea, Before it’s Too Late,” that the U.S. should preemptively destroy a North Korean missile before it could be tested, a step he described as an act of self defense against a “clear and present danger.”
Public opinion seems generally critical of the idea, but there is a growing minority that is clearly warming to the proposition. An Ohio newspaper recently asked its online readers if they believed the U.S. should “launch a preemptive strike” against the DPRK; 31% of the over 1,300 respondents replied in the affirmative. READ MORE

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