As you read this, a despotic dictator has his armies poised near the border, ready to invade one of the United Stateís closest allies. This army, of over a million men, could within hours reach the capital and start a war that would surely plunge the region and the world into a period of chaos. He and his regime plan to construct weapons of mass destruction and have threatened multiple times to use them against the United States and our allies.
No Iím not talking about Iraq, Iím speaking about the most dangerous country in the world: North Korea.
Why then, I ask, does North Korea recieve little or no attention in the news? Currently there are over 260,000 US troops in the Middle East but only a token sized force has been moved to the Korean peninsula in the past few weeks. It seems to me that there is a clear double-standard for North Korea. Maybe itís best to compare the actions of Iraq and North Korea over the past few months so that the double standard will be made clear.
For months on end the Bush administration has accused Iraq of possessing "Weapons of Mass Destruction." The proof for this claim has ranged from unconfirmed reports to models of theoretical weapons systems to satellite imagery. The reliability and credibility of this evidence has been a highly debated point as Bush has pushed for war. North Korea on the other hand, has saved the United States the trouble of finding their weapons. Good olí Kim came out and openly announced that his regime was not only pursuing nuclear weapons but also the delivery systems for them. North Korea has repeatedly fired missiles which are much more dangerous than the Al Samoud 2 missiles which Iraq may or may not have. So North Korea has openly threatened the free world with nuclear war while Iraq may have a few missiles laying around; war is almost imminent with Iraq but youíd be hard-pressed to find any administration officials taking a hard stance on North Korea
Another point that the Bush administration has hung its war argument on has been that Husseinís regime presents a direct threat to the security of the United States. While this goes against all credible intelligence reports from the last year, letís assume at least some of this statement is true for argumentís sake. Saddam has made no direct verbal threats against the United States, nor has he made any aggressive military moves. Kim, on the other hand, has at times threatened to "turn South Korea, Japan, and the United States into a sea of fire". North Korea has also begun to reinforce the border between itself and South Korea, a clearly aggressive move and a violation of existing treaties. So Kim threatens us with imminent death while Saddam tries to protect himself and we see Iraq as the threat?
Finally, any of a number of officials and political pundits have been telling us that this war will be a crusade of sorts against the evil dictator. They have attempted to conjure up images of Adolf Hitler at Munich and tried to tell the public that we must stop Saddam here and now. Well as long as having a dictator qualifies a country for invasion, why donít we compare Kim and Saddam? In Baghdad, citizens are free to do mostly as they please. They can read the books they want and listen to American music as well as see American movies. The life for the average North Korean, in contrast, is probably more like living on Mars than on Earth. North Korea is a totalitarian state in every sense of the word. The people have been taught that their leader is divine. Not even Stalinist Russia or China under Mao can compare to the surreal world of North Korea. So if the United States is now in the business of eliminating despotic leaders (It hasnít been for the past 50 years) why donít we take a long hard look at Kim before we get tangled up in the Middle East?
Even with this mounting pile of evidence the administration seems to be following a policy of ignoring North Korea and hoping it goes away. Recently, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice refused direct talks with the North Koreans. So why the focus on Iraq? As a well-informed citizen I can only speculate. Maybe it has something to do with the Bush administrationís alleged obsession with Iraq, or maybe oil, or a more cynical person might suggest that Bush wants an easy war for a campaign year and Iraq would certainly be a quicker and cleaner war than North Korea.
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