Two wars for the price of one!

A 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery soldier from Fort Stewart, Ga. looks out over Udari Range in Northwestern Kuwait, during a live fire exercise. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David K. Dismukes, CFLCC Public Affairs)

Hello all — I’m back from the hinterlands of Arkansas, and boy am I glad to be back in New York. I took a break from the site for the last week, since much of the news out of Iraq seems to be of the “hurry up and wait” variety. (In a minor update, the United Nations says Iraq has given it the names of more than 500 scientists involved in its arms program.)
However, what’s more interesting is how the crisis with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (that’s North Korea for the Bushies reading this) is starting to intersect with the Iraqi crisis. Now, I know this site is called “Back to Iraq,” but the ways in which the Bush administration is dealing with North Korea is revealing vis a vis Saddam’s abattoir.
First off, North Korea has expelled UN weapons inspectors, removed monitoring equipment and started up reactors that can make weapons grade plutonium in six months or so. The Stalinist playground has also moved light machine guns into the (formerly) DMZ between North and South. President Bush’s response, in marked contrast to his bellicosity regarding Iraq — which doesn’t as yet have nukes, doesn’t seem much of a threat to its neighbors and doesn’t seem to be cozying up to Al Qa’ida — is to threaten North Korea with economic collapse if it doesn’t abandon its nuclear aims.
One question: Is he fucking serious?
Threatening the north with economic collapse is like waving a gun at a dead man. People are eating grass, for God’s sake. (George Paine over at has a good entry on this.
With his “with us or against us” rhetoric, Bush has drawn a line in the sand in which all terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of axis of evil charter members are “evil.” But with one member, we go to war, although the evidence that Iraq poses an existential threat to the United States is sorely lacking. With another member, which can threaten the cities of major allies and would be the most likely to sell anthrax and loose nukes to Al Qa’ida, we threaten it with growing economic and political isolation, called “tailored containment.”
“It is called ‘tailored containment’ because this is an entirely different situation than Iraq or Iran,” a senior administration official said. “It is a lot about political stress and putting economic stress. It also requires maximum multinational cooperation.”
That sounds an awful lot like sanctions to me, which I thought the Bush people had dismissed in Iraq as unworkable. And why is this an “entirely different situation than Iraq or Iran”? Is it because if we go to war with North Korea, the North Koreans might shoot back? All in all, it sounds like the Bush policy with North Korea is to piss them off as much as possible.
At any rate, Bush’s policy of preemptive self-defense has just come back and bit him in the ass. This action by the North Koreans is directly related to his good guys-bad guys rhetoric, because they are threatened and they’re looking to beef up their deterrent before the United States can act militarily. The United States is not the only country that can act before someone threatens its existence, and Dear Leader has just acted. Perhaps everyone is gearing up to finish that business from the 1950s once and for all.
I’ll be honest, North Korea isn’t something I’ve paid a lot of attention to, seeing as my focus has been on Iraq. It turns out I have something in common with the Bush White House after all…