Kristol’s plan for Korea

KRISTOL’S PLAN FOR KOREA…. In light of North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests, international leaders are pondering how best to proceed, weighing a series of unsatisfying options. On Fox News yesterday, Bill Kristol presented the same idea he always presents when faced with a national security challenge.

Kristol explained, “I don’t rule out the possibility of us deciding — and I think it might be wise for us to decide — to knock out a few. They’re apparently rolling a long-term missile to a base to test another one, long-range missile to test another one. You know, it might be worth doing some targeted air strikes to show the North Koreans, instead of always talking about, ‘Gee, there could be consequences,’ to show that they can’t simply keep going down this path.”

Brit Hume, on the same program, endorsed Kristol’s proposal, but said he “can’t imagine” the Obama administration actually launching a military strike on North Korea. (They follow Newt Gingrich, who began urging strikes in April, calling on the administration to use “lasers” to attack North Korea.)

Matt Yglesias noted, “Kristol doesn’t even attempt to say what he thinks this will accomplish. He just kind of tosses it out there for no reason because arguing that the United States should start wars is what he does.”

I’d just add that as the situation in North Korea grows even more serious, there will likely be others making arguments similar to Kristol and Hume. Indeed, a Rasmussen poll a few weeks ago found 57% of respondents in favor of “a military response to eliminate North Korea’s missile launching capability.”

Now, I find those results dubious — the question wasn’t worded especially well — but if conservative pundits are going to start touting the idea, let’s remember just how bad an idea this is. A preemptive military strike would instigate a rather dramatic regional conflict, involving South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia. “Some targeted air strikes,” as Kristol put it, would likely lead to a counter-strike on, say, Seoul and Tokyo.

Kristol, Hume, and Gingrich have the right to make all kinds of wacky suggestions, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be taken seriously.