Book suggests U.S. take hard line against N. Korea
SEOUL — A senior Pentagon advisor noted for his role in encouraging the invasion of Iraq says North Korea should be blockaded by sea and air to prevent its nuclear weapons from being sold or transferred to terrorist groups or other nations.
Richard Perle, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and noted hawk on international issues, makes the suggestion in “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror,” co-authored by David Frum, a former special assistant to President Bush.
The danger of North Korea selling its weapons to a third party is a risk greater than a new war on the Korean peninsula, the pair write in the book, released this week.
“First no agreement is worth having if it does not provide for the immediate surrender by North Korea of all the nuclear material they are known to possess before North Korea receives a single dollar in new American aid: not a phased surrender, not an incremental surrender, but a total and complete surrender,” the pair write, according to excerpts posted on wire services.
Perle and Frum go on to say North Korea should accept unfettered inspections by international observers; comparing the situation to the Cuban missile crisis.
“We fear that it is unlikely that North Korea will accept such terms. If those fears are correct, then the United States must ready itself for the hard possibility that our choices really shrink to two: tolerate North Korea’s attempt to go nuclear — or take decisive action to stop it,” they write.
“Decisive action would begin with a comprehensive air and naval blockade of North Korea, cutting it off from all seaborne traffic, all international aviation, and all intercourse with the South. South Korea will object, but it needs to be made to understand that, as in Cuba in 1962, a blockade is its best alternative to war.”
But, the authors say, “In Korea, the surest way to avoid war is to prepare to fight it.”
In the book, Perle acknowledges a hard-line strategy would likely anger South Koreans, who’ve worked toward a policy of reconciliation and economic engagement.
“The top priority of South Korea’s current government has been to ensure that the United States and Japan join them in appeasing Kim Jong-il. To that end, they wish to keep as many American troops as possible deployed as far forward as possible, so that Americans share their vulnerability to North Korean artillery.”
The authors also urge a speedier repositioning of U.S. forces farther south from the Demilitarized Zone, which is already part of the Pentagon’s long-range plans.
South Korean analysts contacted by Stars and Stripes said they view the book as one of many opinions Americans may have on North Korean policy.
“I don’t think our North Korea policy would be affected by this. I will just see how strong this one piece of opinion can get in the United States,” Park Hyeng-jung, director of the Korea Institute for National Unification’s (KINU) North Korean Studies Division, said Wednesday. KINU is a nonprofit research institute established by the South Korean government in 1991.
“Since the nuclear issue turned up in 2001, North Korea has been pressured internationally. And it’s been sort of blockaded for the last 50 years by the United States. What would the additional blockade be? Is it a military reaction?” Park questioned.
The South Korean government is afraid of growing tensions on the peninsula and economic effects afterwards, Park said, and if South Korea gives up its engagement policy toward North Korea by suspending its economic and social intercourse with it, the result could be something extreme.
“Based on a humanitarian reason, we’re providing corn and rice for North Koreans, and I believe that is very a essential source of their survival and could be a way to prevent North Korea from taking some dangerous political move,” Park said.
Another analyst said the opinions in Perle and Frum’s book shouldn’t alter South Korea’s current course.
“We need to wait and see. Whether it’s hard-line views or moderate views, we should see how the stream is flowing. We should not get swayed by a momentary storm,” said Chon Kyong-man, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, another government-funded think tank.
Perle ruffled international feathers this week with several television appearances promoting the book. In a CNN appearance, he said Saudi Arabia qualifies for its own membership in the Axis of Evil, referring to the famous State of the Union phrase reportedly written by co-author Frum.
Perle also said the United States has “big problems” with Syria and suggested moves to “isolate” France for its diplomatic opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.