You might think Americans have had enough of war. The Iraq misadventure has cost more than a trillion dollars, killed and wounded thousands of American servicemen and women, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. Despite his campaign promises, President Obama has not been able to extricate America from that quagmire. It will continue to be a drain on America’s resources for months or years to come. Meanwhile, the Afghan war is going nowhere and is likely to drag on and on and on. The last thing you would expect Americans to want is more war. But apparently you would be wrong.
One of the country’s most reliable survey companies has taken a poll that shows 57 percent of Americans approved of a “military response” to North Korea’s missile launch. Only 15 percent of respondents disapproved. Twenty-eight percent were “not sure.”
I don’t know about you but I am sure. I am sure that war with North Korea would be a dumb and tragic mistake. I am not sure that the weekend missile test was for military purposes, although the wacky “dear leader” of North Korea probably had some kind of saber rattling in mind. According to the North Korean government, the launch was part of a civilian satellite program. Whatever the motive was, the launch reportedly failed.
Besides, Kim Jong-il (North Korea’s dear leader) has no workable nuclear warhead for his missile, and it would likely take years for him to develop one. He’s nearly 70 now and in bad health so he might well be dead before a warhead is ready for launching. For the U.S. media to portray this cartoon character as a serious threat is irresponsible, but I guess it builds television audiences and sells newspapers.
There’s probably more danger to the world lurking in India and Pakistan. Right-wing Indian politicians have been clamoring for a nuclear attack on Pakistan ever since the Mumbai terrorist attack, and the political situation is extremely shaky in Pakistan – which has its own Bomb. But for some reason, the media are more concerned with North Korea and its loony leader than with India or Pakistan.
Kim Jong-il is a bad joke. He does the most outlandish things – demanding that all the rice grains in his meal be symmetrical and come from a special mountainside, for example. He eats with silver chopsticks, lives in 17 palaces, and generally pampers himself while his subjects endure extreme poverty and even starvation.
Kim has collected more than 20,000 video tapes, and his favorites include “Friday the 13th,” “Rambo,” James Bond movies and the Godzilla series, as well as Hong Kong action flicks and any movie with Elizabeth Taylor.
The dumpy little dictator claims to be a fantastic golfer. His propaganda outlet reports that he routinely shoots three or four holes-in-one per round and had something like nine holes-in-one the first day he picked up a golf club. His official biography also claims he has composed six operas and stages elaborate musicals.
On the other hand, the North Korean army is no joke. “Dear Leader” has devoted the bulk of his country’s resources to building an impressive military force. War with North Korea would not be as simple as you might think. Furthermore, the repercussions of a military strike against Kim Jong-il could be daunting. How would China (or Russia) react, for example?
I am sure President Obama will use diplomatic pressure to keep the “dear leader” in line, probably seeking China’s assistance, as North Korea has tended to heed China in the past. Obama is far too intelligent to be drawn into armed conflict with some swaggering little dictator. I wish I could say the same for the majority of America’s citizens.