Sunday, March 2
Secret, Scary Plans
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, February 28, 2003
Some of the most secret and scariest work under way in the Pentagon these days is the planning for a possible military strike against nuclear sites in North Korea.
Officials say that so far these are no more than contingency plans. They cover a range of military options from surgical cruise missile strikes to sledgehammer bombing, and there is even talk of using tactical nuclear weapons to neutralize hardened artillery positions aimed at Seoul, the South Korean capital.
There's nothing wrong with planning, or with brandishing a stick to get Kim Jong Il's attention. But several factions in the administration are serious about a military strike if diplomacy fails, and since the White House is unwilling to try diplomacy in any meaningful way, it probably will fail. The upshot is a growing possibility that President Bush could reluctantly order such a strike this summer, risking another Korean war.
The sources of information for this column will be as mystifying as the underlying U.S. policy itself, for few will discuss these issues on the record. But it seems those interested in the military option — consisting primarily of raptors clustered around Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and in the National Security Council — have until recently been slapped down by President Bush himself.
Recently Mr. Bush seems to have become more hawkish. [...]