Former Secretary of Defense William Perry is one of America’s great national defense assets. So it is difficult to understand his lapse in judgment in proposing, with Harvard’s Ash Carter, to start a war with North Korea. Perhaps it is an attempt to position themselves to the right of President Bush, but their plan is ill-conceived, factually flimsy, and feeds directly into the crisis atmosphere that dictator Kim Jong-Il wants to create. Their June 22 Washington Post op-ed, commits five basic errors:
1. They exaggerate the threat. Calling North Korea’s test launch an “intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead on U.S. soil” is a huge analytical leap unsupported by any evidence. The last time North Korea fired a long-range missile was in 1998, it went about 1300 kilometers and failed to put its tiny payload into orbit.
2. They adopt the Bush administration’s deeply flawed preventive war strategy. The view that we have to go to war before “the threat has matured” is precisely what sent us into Iraq. The 1998 test was not an imminent threat and this one is no different — certainly not the “race to threaten this country” that the authors suggest.
3. They justify the attack on flimsy intelligence. The very first sentence of the op-ed – “North Korean technicians are reportedly in the final stages of fueling a long-range ballistic missile” — is in error. South Korean intelligence officials, who were the first to report the missile fueling, have now rejected the reports.