If you want to see first-hand how the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq have decreased American influence in the world you need look no further than North Korea. The Stalinist state went ahead and tested an atomic weapon yesterday, something they never would have done had the United States not been bogged down in the middle-east trying, and failing, to manage the Iraqi civil war.
Back when this country engaged in diplomacy to solve international disagreements, North Korea could be satisfied with a few bags of rice and occasional multi-party talks. Now that we are refusing to engage in dialogue with rogue states like North Korea and Iran, they see no further advantage in cooperation and are moving ahead to develop the weapons of mass destruction that Sadaam never had.
The Bush administration’s obsession with Iraq is incomprehensible in light of the threat posed by the Koreans obtaining nuclear technology. What leverage do we have over the North Koreans now that they have decided to travel down this path? For one thing we can immediately institute sanctions and try to starve Kim Jong Ill out of power. This policy is not without risks; an invasion of South Korea being a distinct possibility if things get too severe.
Since George Bush won the presidency in 2000, the Administration rejected calls from Pyongyang for bilateral talks, and made it clear that it did not support the Clinton administration's 1994 agreement with Pyongyang under which the regime was to freeze its nuclear program.
Bein a hawk on Korea has failed to stop North Koreans from continuing its program of uranium enrichment and weapons development, in fact it probably accellerated it. Jong-Il no doubt learned a lesson from watching the invasion of a soverign Iraq and decided that if the United States came knocking on his palace door it would be greeted much less hospitably than it was in Baghdad. Now it appears as if the test will ignite a local arms race and put more WMDs in the hands of even more countries. Iran will almost certainly see the Korean’s success as a green light to move ahead with its own weapons program.
The administration’s failure in Iraq and resulting overextension of the military has weakened the United States diplomatically. The administrations contempt for diplomacy has taught the leadership of rogue states that since they stand to be invaded by the United States for creating a WMD program, they have nothing to lose by accelerating their nuclear programs and hoping to develop a bomb before the US army shows up on theor door-step. Once again, the administration has made us less safer in an increasingly dangerous world.