A Nuclear North Korea

I don’t want to sound alarmist here, but North Korea has just conducted its first nuclear weapons test.

This is not good.

Imagine Adolf Hitler with a nuclear weapon. That would be the moral equivalent of Kim Jong-il with one. There is no difference.

Kim is a mass murderer, possibly on the scale of Hitler. The only difference, so far, is that Kim has killed millions of his own people through starvation, forced labor camps and executions — more in the style of Josef Stalin.

But Kim’s dream, like his Stalinist father’s, remains reunification of his country through military force. His million-man-plus army, as always, is massed near the border with South Korea, just waiting for the right moment.

South Korea was destroyed once by invasion from the north. The city of Seoul was leveled — with conventional weapons. Kim wouldn’t think twice about using more efficient means, like nuclear, to do it again.

This is not just a matter of brinksmanship. The lives of millions — and not just Koreans — hang in the balance.

I continue to be disturbed at U.S. policy regarding this crisis. Let me put it bluntly: This is not a matter for the United Nations. It will not be resolved there. Most of the world, including China, is not going to help defuse the crisis. We have some allies — notably Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — but Russia and China know North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not targeted in their direction. They are targeted at us.

And, as the old saying goes: "One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day."

Vague warnings alone will not stop North Korea from pursuing its nuclear arsenal and deploying it. Threats of U.N. sanctions will not deter Pyongyang. The United States needs to be very clear about the dire consequences it alone will bring on North Korea — because this is a matter of national security for us, not just a threat to "world peace." It’s much more than a matter of "deep concern," as the U.S. State Department has labeled it. It’s a matter of life and death.

If we go the U.N. route again on this crisis, debates over resolutions will take years. China will lead the United States to believe it will be an ally, only to ensure Washington does not take unilateral action. Ultimately, as is so often the case, China will reject any meaningful multilateral action against North Korea — just as it has with Iran.

Banking on China to join us is a mistake. It won’t happen. China would like nothing better than to see the United States knocked off as a superpower. It would clear the field for its planned ascendancy on the world stage.

The West has made this mistake many times in the past. The clearest example is Neville Chamberlain’s trip to Munich. He asked Hitler what he wanted — how he could be "bought off." Hitler said all he wanted was the Sudetenland. Chamberlain said he could have it. Then, of course, Hitler took all of Czechoslovakia.

After the war, Chamberlain still didn’t get it. He said everything would have been just peachy if Hitler hadn’t lied.

Well, guess what? That’s what evil tyrants do. And, no matter how many cheap gizmos you may have purchased from China in recent years, the leadership there is every bit as evil and cunning as Hitler was.

We can’t put our fate in their hands.

Here’s what we need to do to stop North Korea:

President Bush should announce that any missile launches from North Korea — whether labeled "tests" or not — will be viewed as nuclear first strike attempts against the United States and our allies. They will be met with appropriate acts of retaliation, up to and including targeted nuclear strikes.

President Bush should announce that any such efforts to launch missiles from North Korea will be monitored by satellite. When missiles are readied for launch, the missile sites will be destroyed pre-emptively.

President Bush should announce that any more nuclear tests by North Korea will be viewed as preparations for war against the United States, Japan, South Korea and other allies and dealt with "harshly" and immediately — not through sanctions, but through military action. And we must mean it.

In today’s politically correct world, in which "multilateral negotiations" are perceived as the key to solving every problem, these recommendations may seem reckless and tough. In fact, they will inevitably save the lives of millions.

Evil must be confronted and defeated. There is no option — other than to be defeated by it.