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Don't strike North Korea.

Whenever a Third World country on the U.S. enemies' list comes close to acquiring a clear weapon, apoplexy breaks out in Washington, quickly followed by chest-thumping for a pre-emptive strike.

So it is now with North Korea, which recently withdrew from the Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty instead of submitting to international inspection of its facility at Yongbyon. Washington suspects North Korea has enough material for at least one nuclear weapon, and the cries for a raid have begun, as Michael Klare noted in a piece for Pacific News Service.

The United States should "take military action if we find North Korea is developing nuclear weapons," says Representative John Murtha, Democrat from Pennsylvania and chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

President Clinton himself may feel pressure to flex his muscles for the Pentagon brass and may see a sortie over Yongbyon as just the ticket.

Nothing would be more foolish.

First of all, as Klare points out, "such an action could precipitate a new attack by the North on the South, with unpredictable consequences. With an army of one million men and thousands of tanks, North Korea is capable of inflicting immense damage on South Korea even if it is ultimately defeated in war."

That's one reason South Korea is much more conciliatory than Washington about the nuclear issue to the north. But the United States might incur casualties, as well.

"American troops," says Klare, "would be drawn into the fighting at the very onset of the war, and ... the casualty rate would be high - North Korean forces can be expected to fight a lot more aggressively than the Iraqi forces encountered by U.S. troops in Iraq."

Secondly, the United States is being hypocritical in the extreme about membership in the nuclear club. By what right does the U.S. Government complain about countries holding such weapons when it won't give up its own nuclear stockpile?

And by what right does the U.S. Government deem it OK for some countries - South Africa, Israel, Pakistan, India - to acquire such weapons of mass destruction and not OK for other countries?

The answer is simple: The U.S. Government cares much more about protecting its empire than protecting the world from nuclear proliferation.

Take Pakistan. With the full knowledge of U.S. intelligence agencies, Pakistan built six or seven nuclear bombs and threatened to use them in 1990 to deter what seemed like an imminent Indian invasion, Seymour Hersh reported recently in The New Yorker.

The United States permitted Pakistan to make these weapons because, Hersh says, it did not want to jeopardize Pakistan's cooperation in prosecuting the U.S.-led war against Soviet forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

The spread of nuclear weapons is alarming and deplorable. But the U.S. Government is in no position to protest until it stops allowing its allies to have such weapons and until it takes real steps to rid itself of its own.
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Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Cold War - the sequel.
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