Another Red Herring

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The media flap over North Korea’s test flights of missiles is another red herring tossed out by the Bush administration to distract the public from its disastrous policies, both foreign and economic.

As I keep pointing out, the intercontinental missiles armed with nuclear warheads that should be our concern are operational and sitting in silos and aboard submarines in Russia and China. Those countries have more than enough missiles — long ago tested, manufactured and deployed — to obliterate the U.S. Yet serious disarmament talks with these powers are not even on the Bush agenda.

No, the Bush administration chooses to make a public issue out of a nuclear missile program in its infancy that it knows darn well poses no threat to the U.S. In these Alzheimer’s times, one has to keep reminding people that deterrence works, just as it worked against the Soviet Union’s enormous stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is so poor that it would take a lifetime for it to produce enough ICBMs to become a threat to the U.S.

And don’t buy that nonsense that the U.S. considered shooting down the North Korean missile with its multibillion-dollar anti-missile system. The U.S. wouldn’t dare try, because failure, which is the most likely outcome, would be unbearably embarrassing.

As for the Bush people smirking about the North Korean long-range-missile failure, they should remember that it has not failed nearly as many times as the U.S.’s ABM missiles have failed. Building an ICBM is not easy, which is probably why we had to use Hitler’s rocketeers to develop ours.

Well, you hard-core Bush defenders might say, what about nuclear nonproliferation? Well, what about it? The Bush administration has already dealt the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty a death blow. It condemns Iran, which is in full compliance, while subsidizing Israel and Pakistan and cutting a nuclear deal with India, all of which refused to sign the treaty. And if those steps don’t kill it, the Bush administration has scrapped the anti-ABM treaty and announced that it is developing new nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration resembles a bunch of teenagers — not real teenagers, some of whom are intelligent, but the stereotypes of teenagers that Hollywood manufactures. They resemble characters out of the old comic book "Archie." Imagine how the North Koreans just tremble when Secretary of State Condi Rice says, "Don’t you test those missiles or you’ll be sorry."

Imagine North Korea’s amusement when the Bush people say to the American public: "Well, they just want us to negotiate one on one, and we’re not going to do it, so their missile test is a big, fat failure. Yuk, yuk, yuk." If the Bush people didn’t have such dangerous toys to play with, they’d be good for a lot of laughs. Missiles are North Korea’s chief export, and only one missile failed. All the rest worked. And if you’re selling missiles, advertising and demonstrations work too.

Now for a little reality check. The press is never, ever present when international diplomats meet. Consequently, when you read a news story that says so-and-so said such-and-such, all you really know is that the reporter was told that’s what was said, and he or she has no way to verify it. Governments lie — ours, theirs, everybody’s. For all we know, both Russia and China may have told the North Koreans to fire away. They darn well will block any serious sanctions by the United Nations.

Secondly, keep in mind that the U.S. said the Koreans fired seven missiles, but a Russian said it might have been 10. Who is right? Well, when it comes to missile firings, we are at the mercy of the government. We have no independent means to verify a missile launch if the launchers don’t invite witnesses.

Just remember that with the Bush administration, disinformation is standard operating procedure, along with secrecy. It clearly sees the American people as a mass of unwashed peasants who are too dumb to understand what the elite is doing.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.

© 2006 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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