The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korea launches, US spins

After weeks of bluster over North Korea's plan to test missiles, during which the US announced plans to use a land-based missile defense system, a sea-based missile defense system, and a preemptive strike against PRK launch sites, they launched seven missiles. But it's okay that we didn't do anything we said we would, because the launch was a "failure."

One of the seven missiles fired over the Sea of Japan today was an intercontinental missile that had been at the center of recent tensions with North Korea. It apparently failed 42 seconds after it was launched, officials in Washington said, news agencies reported.

But the failure of the intercontinental missile, called the Taepodong 2, which American spy satellites have been watching on a remote launching pad for more than a month, led some officials to characterize the launchings, which they said appeared to be an attempt at intimidation, as a failure.

The missile is designed to be capable of reaching Alaska, and perhaps the West Coast of the United States, but American officials who tracked its launching said it fell into the Sea of Japan before its first stage burned out.

So that's good. The missile that could reach the US was a dud. The bad thing is that the administration has spent weeks talking tough, making threats, and boasting about our advanced weapons systems-- only to sit by and watch as Korea ignored the warnings and fired seven missiles anyway. This strikes me as a serious foreign policy failure. The White House has come to rely on military force as their sole bargaining chip, and pulled out all the stops with North Korea. But it just looks like empty bluster now. The message: it's safe to ignore us. The moral: endless boasts about your military might not be a wise first step in diplomatic relations.