A A University of Texas professor is causing a stir after urging the
U.S. to destroy North Korea's nuclear missiles to make clear that threats
against the U.S. will not be tolerated.
Jeremi Suri, a public affairs and history professor, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on Friday with the headline, "Bomb North Korea, Before It's Too Late." The article has spurred a cascade of online responses ranging from support to anger.
Leaving the missiles in North Korea's hands could lead other countries in the region, such as South Korea and Japan, to develop nuclear weapons, he said.
"We're trying to avoid what could be a much worse situation," Suri told the American-Statesman. "It's the equivalent to having a neighbor next door that's angry and wants to shoot you and having to call the police."
He said President Barack Obama should be clear that destroying the missiles would not be an attempt to overthrow North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's regime, but an act of self-defense.
Kim recently threatened to strike civilian targets in South Korea, Japan and the U.S.
Suri said that he had received about 1,200 emails responding to his op-ed. Some people expressed strong support for striking North Korea to destroy its missiles, he said, while others have said they're not sure what the right answer is.
Robert Hathaway, director of the Asia program at the Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank, said destroying North Korea's missiles is "guaranteed" to lead to a war between the U.S. and North Korea. Hathaway said the U.S. has no reason to believe the country is preparing to attack since they have not positioned troops.
The U.S. needs to tell the North Korean leadership that firing nuclear weapons or selling them to others who may use them against the U.S. is not acceptable, he said.
"These guys aren't suicidal," Hathaway said. "It's wrong to act as if the North Korean leadership were crazy and it's wrong to assume they would take action that would result in the end of the regime."
William Inboden, a UT associate public policy professor, said Suri's idea to destroy North Korea's missiles is a viable option. Maintaining the current U.S. policy of reacting to North Korea's actions does not prevent the country from continuing its bad behavior, he said.
Suri says destroying the missiles is not the only option, but believes it is an option worth consideration.
"One of the things that universities are supposed to do is put out important ideas for people to debate," he said. "You only get the best ideas when you interrogate things fully."
(c)2013 Austin American-Statesman, Texas
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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