Whatever else you might want to say about the current Bush administration, one thing is clear: they are a bunch of hypocrites.
Yesterday, North Korea made good on its months-long threat to launch short and long range missiles. The lone long range missile crashed shortly after take-off, but at least they get an A for effort.
As to the Bush administration, their response is to express “outrage,” look for a U.N. resolution supporting economic sanctions, and push to resume the six-party talks. Nowhere was there a mention of any possible invasion.
The comparison to Iraq is illuminating. North Korea has demonstrated the intent and capability of producing weapons of mass destruction, with the potential of these weapons actually reaching U.S. shores. Iraq never showed the least indication of any intention to attack the U.S., the evidence that it even had WMD was muddy at best, and the end result, of course, was that no such weapons even existed. So guess which country we invade?
Now I am not in the least suggesting that we should seriously consider invading North Korea. I support the restraint currently being shown. What I am saying is that the irrationality and inconsistency of the Bush administration here points up the basic hypocrisy of the decision to invade Iraq. While Condoleezza Rice urged the invasion of Iraq lest the smoking gun we find too late turned out to be a “mushroom cloud,” the same logic does not seem to apply to the more real threat of North Korea.
The explanation for this hypocrisy is that the invasion of Iraq was never really about WMDs. I doubt we will ever know for certain exactly what the internal justification was. Getting control over Iraqi oil? Putting a U.S. friendly government in the middle of the Islamic Mideast? Finishing up the unfinished business of the first Iraq war? Whatever it was, it was not sufficient to justify an invasion. So the threat of WMDs was exaggerated. Even worse, the presumed existence of WMDs was claimed to be sufficient for a preemptive strike. Yet, the more real threat from North Korea does not clear the same bar.
The Bush administration has continued to rewrite history over the past 4 years, coming up with a new rationale for the war in Iraq each time the old one proved in error or no longer relevant (eradicate WMDs, depose Hussein, set up a democratic government, eliminate the insurgency). I guess it’s time to get ready for a similar list of rationales for why North Korea is not the same as Iraq, a list that will similarly evolve each time North Korea’s increasingly belligerent behavior makes the old rationale obsolete.