Bloggers consider pre-emptive strikes on North Korea.

Bloggers consider pre-emptive strikes on North Korea.

Bloggers consider pre-emptive strikes on North Korea.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 23 2006 5:48 PM

Nuclear Summer

Bloggers react to an editorial calling for pre-emptive strikes on North Korea. They also go along with a recent National Academy of Sciences' study on global warming—up to a point.

Stop worrying, and bomb the bomb: Former Clinton defense officials Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry penned an editorial in the Washington Post (Note: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.) Thursday calling for a pre-emptive strike on the North Korean regime if it goes ahead with anticipated tests of its new "Taepodong" missile. An ICBM said to be capable of carrying a nuclear payload to U.S. shores, the weapon can be easily destroyed in a surgical strike, which would have the added virtue of sending a no-nonsense message to Kim Jong-Il. Or so argue Carter and Perry. Bloggers aren't so sure.

Advertisement

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters has done the hard thinking on this question and emerges unconvinced. The trouble is a semantic difference between the Clinton and Bush species of "pre-emption": "When one tosses a cruise missile at another sovereign nation, one had better be prepared for war. Iraq at the time did not react as such because Saddam did not want to lose, and lose badly, as he did in 2003. However, Kim Jong-Il would likely react to a cruise missile by launching an attack on South Korea and perhaps firing a few more missiles at Japan. Are we prepared to deal with that consequence? Do we want to fight a pre-emptive war on the Korean Peninsula?"

Robert Koehlerat the Seoul-based The Marmot's Hole explains the logic behind the South Korean call for calm: "If the North fires a missile, the black haze you'll see on the horizon won't be from a warhead going off; it will be South Korea's efforts to get the Americans to play nice with Pyongyang going up in smoke. ... The Roh administration's diplomatic efforts … won't be worth jack-shit, and President Roh will look like an even bigger clown in Washington than he already does."

International affairs and political science grad student Joshua Foust thinks that using the threat of force to demand that Kim Jong-Il "de-fuel" his new toy is misguided. At The Conjecturer, Foust minutes: "The TPD-2 uses a liquid engine—that means it is highly unstable and dangerous to fuel and launch. That also means it is even more dangerous to de-fuel and take off the pad, since the moment it enters the tanks the liquid reactants begin corroding the metal casings, creating the possibility of catastrophic leaks… So they are in the very tricky position, perhaps on purpose, where a missile launch is the safest bet for all involved on the ground. I have to say, it is a very clever move on Kim's part."

Democrat Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money offers two reasons for the muscularity on display in his own camp: "One, by advocating a preventative attack…we Democrats demonstrate to the American electorate that we are just as tough and even more stupid than the Republicans on national security…Second, we demonstrate 'resolve'. Our allies, none of whom would be expected to support such a strike (Carter and Perry allow this) will nonetheless be impressed." And Noah Schachtman at the guns, germs, and steel-savvy Defense Tech isn't even sure  the Taepodong exists: "[T]here may not be an ICBM at all. Remember, the North Koreans have launched exactly one intermediate-range ballistic missile, in 1998. The thing…went about 2,000 km or so. Now, U.S. intelligence assumes the Norks have been working on strapping together more Nodongs and Scuds (or, at least, their engines) for an ICBM -- something that can reach three to five times further, and hit the U.S. But no one has actually seen the weapon."

Advertisement

Read more about the Carter/Perry op-ed.

A snowball's chance in Antarctica: According to the National Academy of Sciences, the earth is at its hottest state in 2,000 years. From glacier melt to sea simmer to hurricane frequency and destructiveness—mankind is largely to blame. But some in cyberspace wonder about the almanac-padding methodology of a few centuries ago, and express other misgivings about root causes for, say, the wind speed behind Katrina.

Antiwarrior Californian Bob at Politics in the Zero starts things off with a characteristic greenhouse reply: "Not that this will convince the Flat Earthers residing in the White House, who never let reality and science get in the way of their dogma."

But at Politics and Pigskins, "small government conservative" Ed McGonigal notices a conspicuous absence in the CNN coverage of our long-term heat wave: "The most interesting thing is that nowhere in the entire story are the words 'sun' or 'solar' used. Until a study is done which excludes the main source of heat on Earth as a cause of global warming, I refuse to take this any more seriously than a guy walking down the street with a sign saying 'Repent! The End Is Near!' "

"Veritas" of Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker, blogging from Houston, thinks the report looses more heat than light: "The National Academy of Sciences is basically rehashing the same story that we've been hearing for years: The temperature rise in the 90's is the worst that there has ever been and humans are causing it. They categorically dismiss the medieval warm spell as insignificant. I also find it interesting that while high methane and CO2 levels were determined to exist in those times, they were caused by volcanoes but the higher CO2 that exists today is from cars so somehow it is more dangerous (?)."

David Roberts at "leafy green" Gristmill, the blog of environmental Grist magazine, is not buying the weighted correlation between global warming and hurricane intensity: "Even if the study holds up, it doesn't mean global warming is 'half to blame' for a given hurricane, and it certainly doesn't mean that global warming is responsible for half the damages caused by a particular hurricane. But it does put a solid foundation under the galvanizing claim that global warming is going to lead to more vicious storms -- not a pleasant prospect."

Read more about the NAS findings.