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Facing Down North Korea
[September 10, 2003]

By Nicholas Provenzo

It is easy to dismiss evil as crazy. Who but a madman could threaten or harm others and be in command of their senses? Yet all but a few evil acts are the products of conscious, deliberate choices, choices that are made in adherence to the evildoer’s moral code. As the second anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I envision the hijackers in the cockpits of the planes they have seized. I see them as their hands guide the controls as their targets approach within sight. They adjust their course as necessary. They pray to steel themselves for what they are about to do. Each thought and each movement serves for one deliberate end: the murder of thousands of innocent people in the buildings before them. The hijackers have made their moral choice.

Yet as vicious and devastating as the 9/11 attacks were, the weapons the Islamic militants used on 9/11 were primitive: box cutters and the planes they hijacked. There are far more frightening weapons available for men of such ambitions.

North Korea is a producer of such weapons. It is a nation led by adherents of the “Juche Idea,” the North Korean's brutal form of totalitarian communism. North Korea's leaders have enslaved their population in support of this moral code, and over the past fifty years, millions of their countrymen have been starved or murdered as a result. In the middle of a devastating famine caused by North Korea’s leaders, the North relies on international food aid to feed its population while expending resources to maintain its powerful army and developing weapons of mass destruction. North Korea's history shows us a pattern of hostile acts of war and terror toward its neighbors. The North Korean dictatorship is a regime that is committed to preserving its grip on power at any price.

In the past, America has negotiated with the North Koreans. In 1991, when the North Koreans promised that they would not develop nuclear weapons, we removed our own weapons from the Korean peninsula. Two short years later, the North Koreans broke their promise, and soon after our intelligence told us it possessed nuclear weapons.

America then chose to negotiate again. The North Koreans promised to freeze their nuclear program in return for American help and cash to build light water reactors, which produce less of the plutonium that can be used to make bombs. America also agreed to lower trade and investment barriers with North Korea.

In 1998, the North Koreans fired a missile that over flew Japan, signaling their ability to strike that nation. And last year, the North Koreans admitted that they had a secret program to develop nuclear weapons, in breach of the 1994 accord. Despite all its promises, the North Koreans have violated every agreement they has made. Their government is a murderous, brutal regime that has squelched the life of its own people. It now possesses nuclear weapons and the means to project them. The North Koreans are the greatest threat to American security today.

In his first state of the union address and with the image of 9/11 fresh in our minds, President George Bush put the North Koreans on notice, warning them against possessing nuclear weapons. "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons," he said, calling the North Koreans part of "an axis of evil."

Yet the president's actions have failed to live up to his words. Rather then issue ultimatums to the North Koreans, which would be America’s right, the president made his own moral choice: he has agreed to even more negotiation. And yet history shows us that the North Koreans can not be negotiated with. They can not be negotiated by their very nature, a nature where force is the only language its leaders understand.

If left unchecked, the North Korean tyrants will continue to strengthen their grip on power. They will continue to develop more weapons and the means to project them. And as the only product a dictatorship so backward could ever produce that the world would want, they will export these weapons.

America’s response must equal the threat before it. We must no longer allow the North Korean’s weapons to threaten us. We must stop negotiating. We must stand up to North Korea, in both word and deed.

I am aware of the risks a policy of ultimatums entails. The North Koreans hold their nuclear sword of Damocles over the South Korean capitol of Seoul as blackmail. Our armed forces are spread thin. The threat of nuclear war is frightening. Yet when we have agreed to the North Korean’s terms in the past, we only find ourselves facing them again later, stronger, and even more threatening.

The North Koreans can not be allowed to hold us and our allies hostage any more. Our safety, and the safety of the world depends on it.

 

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