Josh Marshall has been writing a lot of good stuff on North Korea lately. I have some comments on this post. In it, he discusses the administration’s claim that North Korea is already a nuclear power, and thus it’s not a huge concern if they get more nukes.
One might well argue that the administration is correct in this. If North Korea has had nukes for several years and hasn’t used them, then maybe there isn’t so much urgency after all. The sense of urgency around North Korea’s nuclear program is predicated on the idea that if North Korea has nukes, something bad will happen. If North Korea has had nukes and nothing bad’s happened, what’s a few more?
Of course, if the administration uses such logic, it makes a hash of the Bush national security doctrine. I think that’s the real hole in what Powell had to say, but since Bush has already positioned Powell as the maverick who’s not always in line with him, it’s deniable.
I think in the long term, America’s going to have to learn how to survive in a world in which nuclear weapons have proliferated, so in some ways I’m heartened to see Bush treating this as a minor issue. Alas, I don’t really believe that’s a policy statement as much as it is the result of his focus being elsewhere.