Time to revise strategy for nuclear wannabes
Before more rogue nations start waving nuclear weapons around as a lever for economic concessions from the United States, our nation needs to create and publicize a clear line that, if breached, will bring immediate, severe and non-negotiable consequences.
Handing a note to a bank teller demanding that she give up the cash or she will get shot is a crime. It is a crime if the threat was a bad joke. It is a crime if the person making the threat has no ammunition. It is even a crime if the bad guy is not really carrying a gun.
The wisdom of this approach is clear. Joke or not, the threat creates serious and sometimes dangerous situations. Even if the jokester has no gun, the police that respond to the alarm do. Idle threat or real, people can die.
What seems obvious in a bank robbery is even more obvious in international relations.
North Korea is the robber. It demands international concessions while claiming it has a gun in its pocket.
The gun, of course, is a cache of nuclear bombs.
We cannot know with certainty whether North Korea possesses nuclear bombs. Nor can we know with certainty what countries are within the range of its missiles.
Iran's more subtle copycat efforts make clear that every rogue country is watching the negotiations unfold. What will the United States pay to convince the would-be bank robber to leave the bank peacefully?
By negotiating with North Korea and Iran, the United States and other developed nations are telling the would-be robbers of the world that robbing the bank is a no-lose proposition. Say you have a nuclear bomb and watch the teller hand over the money.
The United States — ideally with the cooperation of China — needs to lay down the law before the robber nations get in full swing. North Korea needs to understand that if it claims to have a nuclear bomb, we will accept that claim as true. Any threat to use that bomb, whether subtle or overt, will incur immediate and severe military ramifications.
It may be too late to draw a line in the sand for North Korea or Iran. They are taking advantage of America's historically inconsistent response to nuclear proliferation.
This is an excellent time, however, to create and publicize an unwavering policy that lays out precisely what we will do to any nation verbalizing a nuclear threat in the future.
Wave a gun in this bank and feel the pain.