Friday, January 30, 2004

Missiles and things 

Nick writes below:

North Korea doesn't have the ability to hit our shores yet, and even if they were to develop that capacity, wouldn't the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction prevent an attack?
Yes, that would be correct. It would prevent an attack on them by us. Deterrence works both ways, and without a missile defense system, the threat of an invasion by us would effectively be foreclosed. And once that happens, whatever bargaining power we still have is gone. MAD might prevent them from attacking us, but it also prevents us from defending South Korea if North Korea invades. Likewise, we can forget about defending Taiwan.

And another point: MAD doesn't put democracies and non-democracies on a level playing field. Do you think North Korea is as concerned about one of its cities as we are? A democratically elected government that actually cares about its people is much more likely to be deterred than one controlled by an unchecked dictator.

As for the timetable set by Bush on Iraq that "happens to line up with the 2004 election season", I'd point out that the election season is pretty much the whole year of 2004. Would you prefer that the deadline had been pushed to last year, or forward all the way to sometime in 2005? And if the deadline were June 2005 instead of June 2004, don't you think Hillary would be saying that Bush had no plan and that he's just avoiding the problem until he's reelected? Hillary's nitpicking seems just as politically motivated as Bush's timetable.

(This reminds of the criticism by some that we shouldn't have been planning to invade Iraq in 2002 since it was an election year. As Rumsfeld pointed out, there's a national election every two years, so a policy like that would effectively only allow war planning in odd numbered years.)
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