"This is why I think the US probably needs to kick North Korea's ass first [rather than Iraq's]... North Korea is already what we're afraid Iraq will become."
In a move that should be a shock to no one, North Korea has announced that it has nuclear weapons and is pulling out of the six-party disarmament talks that Bush hyped so much during the campaign. Just so no one thinks I am using hindsight to say that invading Iraq and letting North Korea linger was a huge mistake, the above quote is mine, from a post on a political discussion group on March 4th, 2003.
Without the knowledge that the Bush administration was lying and decieving the American people about the threat of WMD in Iraq, it was still obvious to me that North Korea, whose nuclear aspirations were already fulfilled, was a much greater danger than Iraq. Iraq's economy and military strength had been crippled by ten years of sanctions, despite the corruption in the UN Oil-for-Food program and violations of the sanctions by some of America's erstwhile allies. It was doubtful that Iraq had been able to reconstitute its WMD programs and doubtful that Saddam, one of the secular leaders hated by al-Qaeda, would give WMD to terrorists if he had them. In short, Iraq presented little threat to the US in comparison to al-Qaeda and North Korea.
To be clear, I didn't think invading North Korea was such a hot idea either. But I thought North Korea needed to be kept in check. As such, I predicted that invading Iraq would take US attention away from North Korea, and that, along with the depletion of our military resources by being expended in Iraq, the invasion would create an opening for North Korea to make its nuclear capability -- and intention not to part with it -- known without risk of being invaded by the US. In essence, by invading Iraq, I said that the US would be giving North Korea free reign to fulfill its nuclear ambitions.
A nuclear-armed North Korea not only threatens our allies South Korea and Japan, not only threatens to destabilize southeast Asia (whereas the Middle East was unstable with or without a US invasion of Iraq), but it puts the US itself at risk, as Kim Jong Il is much more likely to give nuclear weapons to terrorists or to nations unfriendly to the US, and also because North Korea is not far from ballistic missile technology that would allow nuclear-tipped North Korean missiles to reach Alaska and maybe even the West Coast. No one disputes that Iraq was nowhere near having the ballistic missile capability to strike the US, and, as noted above, Saddam was highly unlikely to give nuclear weapons to al-Qaeda or anyone else who might use it against him.
The invasion of Iraq was nothing more than a crusade by Bush to punish the man who tried to kill his father, and by the neocons who made the invasion the centerpiece of their Imperial American ideology and agenda. But taking our eyes off North Korea in order to invade a country who couldn't really threaten us if it tried was one of the great foreign policy blunders of all time.
And, of course, the threat from North Korea is only going to make the Bush regime argue even more forcefully for further funding for the unworkable National Missile Defense boondoggle. Bush hopes to intimidate North Korea with NMD the same way Reagan intimidated the Soviets with SDI, but there's a difference: Kim Jong Il isn't as rational as the Soviet leaders were, and if he actually believes that the US is going to have a missile shield at some point (though I don't think NMD will ever work), he may very well go ahead and attack in advance of when he thinks his missiles will no longer be effective. In short, Bush may actually provoke North Korea into a nuclear attack.
I hope it doesn't come to that. But my predictions have been pretty accurate thus far.