Jewish World Review Jan. 13, 2003 / 10 Shevat, 5763

Zev Chafets

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

No time for experts | Until a few weeks, ago I didn't even know the name of the capital of North Korea. I want to say this right upfront, so nobody takes me for an expert. Because, when it comes to North Korea, the experts clearly don't know what they're talking about.

In 1994, the experts in the Clinton administration made this deal: North Korea shuts down its nuclear weapons program in return for U.S. help in building a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes.

In October, the North Koreans shocked the experts by admitting they were still secretly trying to make nuclear weapons. Next, they kicked International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors out of their Yongbyon nuclear facility. Within six months, Yongbyon can probably produce six nukes.

The experts blamed this development on President Bush. He had driven the North Koreans to desperate measures by including them in his axis of evil.

Then the experts found out - because the North Koreans told them - that they had been cheating on the deal since it was made, roughly six years before Bush's election.

Okay, said the experts, what's done is done. What matters now is the future. They advocated immediate negotiations to get North Korea to agree to what it had agreed to, following negotiations, in 1994.

Bush didn't get it. Why should the U.S. pay twice for the same merchandise? And what made anyone think the North Koreans would honor their word this time?

A great chorus of expert denunciation greeted this unsophisticated, Texas cowboy approach. The Koreans got themselves caught out on a limb, said the experts. Talks are the ladder that will allow them to climb down from the tree.

So Bush did what he often does with expert advice - he tried it. Okay, he said, to the North Koreans, let's talk.

And North Korea said: No thanks. Instead, it said it was pulling out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. No nation in history has ever done that.

This announcement came Friday. On Saturday, NorthKorea added that it will begin testing long-range missiles - giving the experts just 24 hours before the Sunday talk shows to concoct a new formula for making reality conform with theory. Doubtless it will call for a mixture of diplomatic discussions and American concessions.

Meanwhile, North Korea, if it isn't stopped, will build a lot of atomic bombs very soon. It will sell these bombs to Iraq, Iran, Al Qaeda, the Russian mafia, the Colombian drug cartel and anyone else with a few million bucks and a grudge. Why would North Korea do that? Because it is broke and has nothing else to sell; and because, in Bush's words, it is an evil regime.

So, what should America do? Here are the choices: 1) Ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away; 2) Cut another deal, knowing in advance that it's worthless, or 3) Disarm North Korea, in line with the doctrine of preemption.

The thought of force makes the experts shudder. North Korea has a million-man army on the South Korean border. It has artillery aimed at downtown Seoul. There will be bloodshed. Economic disruption. Diplomatic outrage. Unilateral military action is unthinkable.

This leads directly back to options No. 1 and No. 2: wishful thinking.

The alternative is very straightforward. Give North Korea an ultimatum to dismantle the reactor. If it refuses, the U.S. should do what Israel did in Iraq in 1981 - destroy the enemy's nuclear reactor. And, as the world's sole superpower, the U.S. can do two things Israel couldn't: Warn North Korea that a military response will bring about a calamitous reaction, and second, inform the government in - what's the name of the capital again? - that it will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Of course I'm no expert. But then again, thankfully, neither is Bush.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

01/07/03: Senator from Mayberry shouldn't alarm prez
12/31/02: Dem Dummies
12/19/02: Saudis still play Santa to Arafat
12/13/02: Lott has to be dumped to save W's authority
12/05/02: Kissinger's Saudi pals litter 9/11 money trail
11/25/02: Sharon looks like a winner
11/18/02: It's the war, stupid
11/14/02: The Dems don't have a prayer
11/07/02: Watch for Dubya to give Arik political hug
10/31/02: Sharpton the patriot
10/22/02: Rabin, gone but not missed
10/17/02: Israelis bracing for US' punch at Iraq
10/14/02: Geriatric war resisters
09/27/02: Al Gore: The Lost Boy of American politics
09/05/02: The intifadeh's over, and the Israelis won
08/29/02: At the world summit, just anger & hypocrisy
08/21/02: No time for weak knees on Iraq
08/16/02: A pro-Arab pol may get the beating she deserves
08/13/02: Fight it out now
08/02/02: Memo to The Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. values won't sell in Arab world
07/31/02: Israel's nutty neighbors

© 2002, NY Daily News