Thank you, President Bush, for finally removing North Korea from the terrorism blacklist on Oct. 11.
In the last few months, it appears that our conflict with Iraq has finally started to reach its conclusion. In August, North Korea sent shock waves throughout the world when it began reassembling its nuclear facilities. Would this be another Iraq war?
In 2006, North Korea carried out its first nuclear test. The curiosity surrounding this event was quickly squashed when North Korea agreed to disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for economic and political concessions.
On Aug. 11, however, the U.S. delayed removing North Korea from the terrorism blacklist, a move that infuriated North Korea and laid the groundwork for its newest nuclear developments. Removing it from the list would have cleared the way for multilateral aid packages.
According to The New York Times, to be excluded from the terrorism blacklist, North Korea was told to send in accounts of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007. The report, however, was not turned until Aug. 11, which started a 45-day notification period the U.S. has to remove North Korea from the terrorist list. The U.S. waited to remove North Korea because it was waiting for them to provide a robust verification of their nuclear programs.
In the last decade, Americans have had to deal with the start up of wars with both Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. did not wait for approval from the U.N. to invade Iraq, which caused the U.S. to create more and more enemies. In turn, this has weakened the country's position at the top of the global food chain. By beginning a war with North Korea, the U.S. would have continued to lose its power and make more and more enemies. With wars still being waged with Afghanistan and Iraq, can we really afford to take on another war?
In 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq on suspicion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. After Sept. 11, most Americans were eager to stop any future possibility of terrorism and did not oppose the invasion. When no weapons were found, many Americans changed their minds about our decision to invade Iraq.
The problem is the situation in North Korea is different, and Americans must try not to compare it to Iraq. This situation had to be cleared up quickly, or the U.S. would have been entrenched in another long war. In this war, however, it was a distinct possibility that nuclear weapons would come into play.
North Korea is not to be taken lightly. Unlike Iraq, North Korea has one of the top militaries in the world. When adding in the nuclear programs they started assembling, it is scary to think of their potential power. If the U.S. chooses to fight a war with North Korea, the country could be in for a longer battle, one that has the potential for more deaths than the war in Iraq.
If the U.S. did not act swiftly in this matter, this conflict could have spiraled out of control for these reasons.
First, this is bad timing for the U.S. The country is in the midst of a presidential election and the stock market is out of control, which will create more complications. President Bush must work to resolve this conflict while he is still in office. Both Obama and McCain are proclaiming change for the country, but another conflict cannot be included in that change.
Second, North Korea is suffering from food shortages. We have all seen what happens to a group of people when they are hungry and looking for some way to restore their old lifestyle. People who are upset, hungry and tired will follow a leader if they are promised a better life. Take the rise of Hitler for example. The Germans, still regrouping from the debt they incurred from World War I, were facing money problems, and all it took was one man to rile up an entire country into action.
Third, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been in the headlines lately because of a recent hospitalization. It is believed he either suffered a cerebral hemorrhage or a stroke. It is hard to know the extent of his condition, however, because of the press restrictions in North Korea. Whatever his condition, it must have been serious, because he missed the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea.
Thus, the future is uncertain in North Korea. If Kim Jong-il were to become fatally ill, what kind of leader would replace him? Would the leader be more peaceful or more prone to go to war? Once again, press restrictions make it difficult to find an answer to this question, but according to FoxNews.com, all three of his sons have an equal chance of inheriting the position. Either way, we do not know enough about his children or whoever else might take over to know what kind of policies they would support.
So thank you Mr. Bush for removing North Korea from the list. Now, I can go to bed without thinking we might have another war on our hands.
Philip Laposa is from St. Louis. He is currently a senior in the Missouri School of Journalism with an emphasis in magazine journalism. He is a former sports writer for the Missourian.