Lawrence Eagleburger may not look like a dynamo, but the former Secretary of State gave a rather robust and undiplomatic performance on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta van Susteren last night. The Right Scoop gets the key part of the segment, where Eagleburger calls for war against North Korea to eliminate the nuclear threat — while at the same time noting that the “pusillanimous attitude” of the Obama administration means nothing will be done at all to defang Kim Jong-Il and his son:
Eagleburger has daggers out for the current White House, but the main thrust of his criticism actually applies to the previous Democratic President, Bill Clinton, and perhaps to George W Bush as well. Eagleburger slams the US for not acting with force to prevent Kim from getting nukes, and that goes to the mid-1990s, when Clinton signed the Framework agreement with Kim. In that instance, Clinton actually began to prepare for the use of force to knock out Kim’s nuclear sites — until former President Jimmy Carter inserted himself into the situation and embarrassingly one-upped his Democratic successor.
Now that Kim does have nukes, though, the use of force is off the table, regardless of the relative pusillanimity of succeeding administrations. Does anyone doubt that Kim would through a couple of tactical nukes in Seoul’s direction if attacked? He would have nothing to lose by doing so, and everyone knows it. Eagleburger’s advice to use force made sense in 1993-4, but is the absolute last option now. Unless we have perfect intelligence on the location of Kim’s nukes and a perfect ability to destroy them without warning, we’re playing with nuclear fire — which is the reason we should have stopped Kim before he acquired those nukes, and why we have to stop Iran from getting them as well.