Wednesday 30 October 2002

A Big Difference

by Charley Reese

Iraq's Saddam Hussein doesn't have nuclear weapons, but President George Bush wants to use force to disarm him (and actually to dethrone him). North Korea does have nuclear weapons, but President Bush thinks we should use a diplomatic approach, without threats.

What's the difference?

North Korea has no oil; Iraq does. After a bloody war in North Korea, you would have nothing but a poor, devastated country. After a much easier war in Iraq, you would be sitting in charge of the second-largest known oil reserves in the world.

Saddam Hussein is cruel man, but he seems - to me, at least - a lot saner than Kim Jong Il. Recalling the image of Kim in what looked like a 1970s leisure suit cavorting with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright makes me nervous to think of him with nuclear weapons. Saddam looks like actor Walter Matthau; Kim John Il looks like a character out of an Austin Powers movie.

Of course, another reason the president prefers diplomacy in dealing with North Korea, despite its now-revealed lying and deception, is that this little country is one mean, tough little dragon with very sharp teeth. A military officer friend of mine who has seen the U.S. estimates of casualties in the event of a war with North Korea said the estimate for the first few hours of combat is 72,000.

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