Nayan Chanda at PostGlobal

Nayan Chanda

New Haven, Conn., United States

Nayan Chanda is the Director of Publications and the Editor of YaleGlobal Online Magazine at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. For nearly thirty years before he joined Yale University, Chanda was with the Hong Kong-based magazine the Far Eastern Economic Review as its editor, editor-at-large and correspondent. Close.

Nayan Chanda

New Haven, Conn., United States

Nayan Chanda is the Director of Publications and the Editor of YaleGlobal Online Magazine at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. more »

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Don't Blow Up a Scarecrow

Connecticut, USA -- Sending US cruise missiles to destroy a crude North Korean scarecrow is a bad idea. Blowing up Taepodong on the launch pad would set off a fireworks display that may be emotionally satisfying but will not deprive Pyongyang of the nuclear device or the fissionable materials it might be hiding. It would set in motion a logic of counteraction by a humiliated Kim Jong Il and set off an emotional response in South Korea that could prove much more destabilizing than what a test launch might have done.

Carter and Perry argue that a strike would deny North Korea the ability to perfect the system that could give them the potential to threaten or blackmail the US. This assumes that Kim would seriously contemplate a suicidal attack on US soil. Given that their multi-stage rocket requires fueling for days before launch, it is inconceivable that in a tense situation they would begin preparation and expect the US to sit back and watch.

So what does North Korea want? Like their earlier unsuccessful effort to get US attention by repudiating the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they want to show their ability to deliver nukes as another attention-getter. Earlier the administration responded to their threat of breaking away from NPT by suggesting - let them eat nukes. That insouciance is informed by the belief that Pyongyang is far away from weaponizing and miniaturizing the nuclear device to turn it into a payload. To impose strict sanctions for their foolish action may be the best course for now.

Of course, Messrs Carter and Perry may just be playing the bad cop to Bush administration's good cop, for a change.

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