December 23, 2002
Filling A Nonexistent Need

Poor 'Hesiod Theogeny' is trying to take up the slack in the Blogosphere by increasing his own production. This looks like a mistake.

If anything, his prose style has deteriorated from its already low level: just in one entry today (the one in which he promises non-stop blogging, 10:22:49 AM), he puts an extra apostrophe in "lot's of", leaves one out of "New Years morning", says he's going to "loaf off" (apparently confusing just plain "loaf" with "slack off" or "goof off"), and refers to someone who writes plays as a "playwrite": that may sound logical, but the word is 'playwright'.

His logic is even worse than his rhetoric. Today (10:43:01 AM) he wrote:

North Korea continues to make the Bush administration's obession with Iraq look not only shortsigthed, but utterly looney!

'Hesiod' just can't understand why Bush is going after Iraq if North Korea is the one that already has nuclear weapons. In other words, he can't understand the concept of prevention. Others have already explained this, but for the benefit of 'Hesiod' and his comment-puppies, I'll explain it again in very simple words. Once a rogue state has nuclear weapons, it's too late. There is very little we can do to stop Kim Jong Il from doing whatever he wants now, because he has a nuclear deterrent. If he's insane enough -- and he may well be --, he can start a war that will kill millions, not just the tens or hundreds of thousands he could have killed before he finished building his first bomb. All we can do is cross our fingers, pray, hope that he's more rational than he appears, and wish that a certain incompetent president had prevented him from building his bombs in the first place. (Actually, an SDI system would help quite a bit, but we'd still rather not have to worry about the problem at all.) We are going to invade Iraq mostly because one nuclear-armed psychotic dictator in the world is already one too many. If we allow Saddam Hussein to build a bomb, we will have two such tyrants. (A coup against Musharraf could easily make it three.) In that case, it would not only be Seoul and Tokyo but Tel Aviv and Kuwait City that would run a fair chance of being turned into radioactive craters in the next decade or two.

By the way, if anyone argues that Hussein is not psychotic and can be deterred, I'm still waiting for an answer to a question I have asked more than once: What about the next generation? Saddam is getting old, and Uday and Qusay are not (to put it mildly) the most stable heirs in the world.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 23, 2002 11:55 PM

Nuclear weapons are not only expensive to build, but they must be maintained and guarded. If a hostile nation knows where a nuclear power keeps all its weapons, it can either steal or destroy those weapons. It is not true that once a nuclear power, always a nuclear power.

Posted by: RB on December 24, 2002 06:35 PM

It is in fact true that once a nuclear power, always a nuclear power. There is no precedent to suggest otherwise. (Ukraine is a bad counter-example, It was a nuclear power becuase of the old Soviet Union). As for the expense of building guarding a few bombs and delivery systems, it's less than you think. Nuclear weapons technology is old technology, and the cost of building them and keeping them viable is lowering as time goes by.

Also, If it were that easy to disarm a nuclear power of its WMDs, either India or Pakistan would have divested the other of its weapons by now. NK would be weaponless and plutonium-less. Greenpeace would have deactivated all the French bombs :-)

Posted by: Suman Palit on December 24, 2002 08:41 PM

The funny thing is that all Hesiod does is criticize the Bush Administration for supposedly "doing nothing" about N. Korea, without mentioning what he thinks ought to be done. Should we engage in diplomacy? Already doing that. Should we engage the North Koreans militarily? Then what do we do about the shelling of Seoul, which would certainly happen, the unleashing of Pyongyang's own nukes, which would likely happen, and the Chinese taking the side of their allies the North Koreans?

Hesiod never answers these questions. All he does is bitch and whine. And he never notes the Clinton Administration's failure in dealing with North Korea--Kim Il Sung abrogated the 1993 agreement Jimmy Carter crafted on behalf of the Administration almost immediately after it was made, and the previous Administration continued to supply the North with aid, and with light water nuclear reactors.

Of course, you won't hear Hesiod complain about this--it would interfere too drastically with his dimwitted, Terry McAuliffe-esque view of the world.

Posted by: Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 24, 2002 08:49 PM

Pejman, though the light-water reactors were part of the agreement, they remain unbuilt -- and barring a change of heart by the actual partners (mainly Japan), they will now remain so.

I am also skeptical that they have working weapons. I know we can't act cavalierly in these matters, but I don't think it's to the point where it is a flatly accepted fact. The DPRK is as infamous for bluffing as it is for blustering. The risk, of coruse, is that they are also infamous for striking out like a four-year-old when seeking attention.

Posted by: Dan Hartung on December 25, 2002 08:07 PM

I've been looking at a map lately... you know Iraq is surrounded on 4 sides by weak potential enemies. Iraq also has the ability to strike at one of the US's closest allies. For a few examples. NK has none of these possiblities. NK can be contained for now. Iraq really is more threatening. Anyway, did Hesiod complain about our attempting a 2 front war before? Has he changed his mind?

Posted by: billhedrick on December 26, 2002 11:41 AM

In defense of RB, it should be noted that South Africa has flatly stated that they possessed two atomic bombs during the De Klerk era, both of which have since been dismantled.

As far as I am aware, however, they are the only nation (except for the former Soviet republics) which has left the nuclear weapons party.

Posted by: Timekeeper on December 26, 2002 01:38 PM

And why, I wonder, Suman, is Ukraine a bad example, other than that it botches up your hypothesis? Correct me if I am wrong but they had nuclear weapons, and then got rid of them. Nuclear power -> Non-nuclear power. How they got the weapons in the first place would hardly seem to be the point, but since you mentioned it, Khruschev and Brezhnev were both Ukrainians, and presumably most of the nuclear arsenal of the Ukrainian SSR were built under their rules. At any rate, Timekeeper has provided another example.

It is true that it is unlikely a nation which has invested effort into developing a nuclear programme would decide to give it up or could be made to give it up through subterfuge. But that doesn't mean there exists some iron natural law "Once a nuclear power, always a nuclear power."

Posted by: Evan McElravy on December 26, 2002 07:23 PM

BillHedrick, are you seriously suggesting that North Korea lacks the ability to strike a close American ally? I don't think allies get much closer than the ROK, which has participated unhesitatingly in every American scheme they were called upon to support -- for instance more South Korean soldiers than Americans died in Vietnam. In my opinion they are more of a client state than Israel, which has always been willing and able to pursue her own interests no matter what we want. More to the point, there are tens of thousands of American servicepeople, and not a few American civilians, within a few miles if Seoul. Any attack on Seoul would also kill them -- and let's face it, Kim Jong-il could put a nuke into the middle of Seoul with a slingshot.

Japan is far closer to Pyongyang than Israel is to Baghdad -- Nagasaki and Hiroshima are both only a couple hundred miles off the Korean peninsula. Don't you think we would have to defend the Japanese if they were attacked, given that we, you know, promised to do that when we took away their military forever? There might be some argument about whether we have an obligation to defend Israel at all costs, but there can be no argument at all about Japan -- if they're attacked, especially nuked, we go to war or lose our honor forever.

And finally, the Korean peninsula will always be a very sensitive and strategic part of the world as long as Russia and China are powers. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese are particularly friendly with Pyongyang at the moment, and I think they do not want nukes going off near their north Pacific ports -- but America certainly doesn't want either of the other powers to take over North Korea either.

For all these reasons, I would urge you to look at your map again. I think North Korea has as much ability to harm our friends and hurt our interests as any state on the planet.

Posted by: Troutgirl on December 28, 2002 09:12 PM