Enter Stage Gabbing
By Steven Martinovich
(July 10, 2006) One must admire Kim Jong-Il's audacity if not the theatricality of his decisions. After threatening for weeks to test North Korea's Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile, the nation's leader finally gave the order while the space shuttle Discovery was launching at Kennedy Space Center half a world away last week. Unfortunately for him, where the shuttle launched successfully, North Korea's missile failed in flight and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.
The failure aside, the fact that North Korea was in a position to even test an intercontinental ballistic missile should send a clear message to those opposed to missile defence that the rules of the game have just changed: A nation which has repeatedly threatened the U.S. with military force, including nuclear conflict, will soon have the capability of striking North America and Europe with a missile. And given the existence of North Korea's nuclear program -- one so successfully shutdown during the Clinton era -- the future can only get more dangerous.
Canada is included in facing that dangerous future because the Taepodong-2 is just as capable of striking western Canada as it is the western United States. While we may pose no immediate threat to the North Korean tyranny, we may serve as an example to the rest of the world if others choose to interfere.
Striking the U.S., Japan or South Korea would prompt an immediate response by nations capable of doing so while hitting Canada as a demonstration is more logical in the twisted ideological math practiced by those in Pyongyang, the same math that allows them to kidnap foreigners to train their secret service, send military teams into South Korea, threaten the U.S. with nuclear war and allow several million of their own citizens to die of starvation.
Nor would a strike on Canada have to be delivered with intent. Given the unreliability of the Taepodong-2 missile for the foreseeable future, a strike against a viable target like Seattle could just as easily hit Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary or Edmonton. Saddam Hussein, who in the metric of sanity is leagues above Kim Jong-Il, used the Scud missile despite its unpredictability to attempt to strike targets inside of Israel and Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Ultimately it doesn't matter whether the potential death of Canadians is deliberate or accidental.
Of course NDP Leader Jack Layton tells us that the American-led missile defence system, which the present government is open to joining, will militarize space and lead to a new arms race. It is September 10, 2001 thinking at its worst. The reality is that there is already an arms race underway and hostile nations have the technology necessary to launch long-range missiles. Over three-dozen nations, which include military partners like Iran and North Korea, possess advanced ballistic missile technology and will only roll out even more capable systems.
The Harper government has promised to put the issue of ballistic missile defence in front of Parliament some time in the future. The three opposition parties have previously announced they intend on voting against any proposal to join in the American system, promises which are now only irresponsible. The federal government has a moral duty to protect us from threats both internal and external. Participating in a missile defense shield -- imperfect as it doubtless will be in the short term -- fulfills part of its obligations of providing for the common defense.
Expecting the rest of the world to deal with these threats -- either individual nations or international bodies -- is to be like Pollyanna. Nations like China with influence over Pyongyang prefer to use the unstable regime as a diplomatic weapon against the U.S. while others prefer continued diplomacy, the same avenue that has allowed North Korea's nuclear program to continue and an intercontinental ballistic missile to be tested. International bodies, treaties and conventions, for various reasons, are toothless in dealing with a nation completely disinterested in being a responsible member of the international community.
With Kim's action he has immediately vaulted himself into the status as the world's most dangerous rogue elephant, an appellation given to such an animal with destructive tendencies. Elephant herds typically drive away these unpredictable animals in order to protect themselves from its actions, defence through distance.
Kim Jong-Il and his dangerous regime are safe for the moment from military action but that shouldn't stop us from protecting ourselves and the best way we can do that, short of taking direct action, is to practice the best defence we can muster. That, in the short-term, is to join the American missile defence system with the hope we can defang Kim Jong-Il and his monstrous regime eventually.
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