Steve Chapman, in today's Chicago Tribune, writes that the Iraq war may have had the unintended consequence of convincing our foes that they MUST obtain WMD - that Saddam's mistake was not possessing the weapons in order to defend himself against the invasion. Sounds plausible to me.
Chapman's solution (read: not mine) in dealing with Iran and North Korea, as a result, is to say, "Ok, you have weapons, we can't invade you right now (Iraq, Afghanistan), and we're not sure we'd even want to anyway (given the risk involved). However, if any nuclear attack (and I'm sure any WMD attack works here as well) can be traced to you guys, the United States will seek to destroy you instantly."
Besides continuing the diplomatic discussions, economic incentives, and stern warnings, should the United States make this threat? Similarly, should the United States, along with Europe, lead a global coalition willing to unite and annihilate them in the event of any attack traceable in any fashion to either country, or country alike?
Maybe, maybe not. Would such a proposal inspire the "Them" to form coalitions? Would a paranoid Iran and North Korea look to each other, Syira, and various terrorist organizations for support should the United States set out to annihilate them? One of the best ways to unite separate people is to introduce a common outside threat (Britain v. the American colonies, Germans v. Napoleon), right? How would China, Pakistan, and India react to this scenario?
I don't know
I generally do not like to criticize when I don't have an alternative proposal, besides further diplomacy. The United States tends to follow a realist foreign policy (Cold War, Bush Administration) but then appears perplexed when other governments do: Iran and North Korea want power and security. We're unable and unwilling to give them power and willing and able to give them security, however, the only way to give them security is by basically reducing their present power i.e. put your national security in our hands and we promise to not attack you and to protect you. It is a hell of conundrum.
Look, if such a traceable event occurs, then of course we have to retalliate. How we do it will be just as important as what we do, so let's make sure we think this through, anticipate the problems, and begin working now to alleviate future risks.
-- Steve Cieslewicz