It’s little wonder that South Koreans are thinking about ways to defend themselves, given North Korea’s bizarre and dangerous behavior. The North has recently launched a long-range rocket and conducted its third nuclear test. It has also unleashed a barrage of apocalyptic threats, including potentially launching “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” on Seoul and the United States and declaring the 1953 Korean War armistice nullified.
South Korea would do better spending the billions of dollars that nuclear weapons would cost on conventional capabilities that would actually enhance its security. The United States recently bolstered the deployment of ballistic missile defense warships in waters off the Korean Peninsula and on Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the Pentagon is enhancing America’s ability to defend itself from a North Korean nuclear missile attack by deploying up to 14 additional ground-based interceptors on the West Coast.
Many experts say that the North’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is looking to enhance his political position, not start a war. There is also every reason to believe that adding the threat of nuclear weapons from the South would inflame the situation, not calm it.
— New York Times
Iraq War anniversary a cautionary tale
It’s not an anniversary that inspires public ceremonies or reflection, though it should. Ten years ago, the United States launched the Iraq War, an invasion that cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars and squandered this nation’s worldwide leadership.
American troops left a year ago, but the war lingers in countless ways. Wounded veterans need help. Military spending deepened a national debt that totals $15 trillion. Iraq remains a fragile and violent place.
Recalling the reasons for the war should remind Americans how unfounded the cause was. There was no Iraqi connection to al-Qaida as President George W. Bush’s team suggested. Nor were there weapons of mass destruction as intelligence experts predicted. Finally, the Middle East didn’t embrace democracy after the U.S. invasion toppled Saddam Hussein. If the Iraq War seems like ancient history, think again. The experience undercuts American resolve to end the slaughter in Syria. The overboard cost of the Iraqi conflict deepens this country’s financial future. The decision to invade, made with minimal support from a handful of allies, will strain this country’s stature for years.
If anything, the Iraq War produced yet another cautionary tale on the limits of military power.
— San Francisco Chronicle