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We must take out Saddam now, before he's as invulnerable as Kim Jong-il

By Des Moore - posted Tuesday, 18 March 2003

Indigent states abound in today's world, most of them mendicant. Only North Korea among them has a starving people even in good times, and gets its living - such as it is - by extortion with menaces.

Many states have hereditary nominal leaders, and many too are led by dictators. Only North Korea among them has a hereditary dictator.

Most totalitarian states have but a single party. Only North Korea among them has a paper party that has not met in conference for 20 years.


Plenty of states have economies harmfully sheltered from the world, and more than enough still have command economies. Only North Korea among them has a totally closed, centrally controlled economy, with almost no exports save missiles and almost no imports save foreign aid, and so in a parlous state not because of nature's parsimony but because of rotten policies.

Quite a few states have over-large armed forces disproportionate to legitimate need and to their economies. Only North Korea, which faces nobody posessing ambition to take it over, has one third of its people on the active and reserve lists (double the US total, though with only one twentieth the population), is developing - might already have - nuclear weapons, and is extending to intercontinental the range of its ballistic missiles.

So Kim Jong-il, North Korea's self-styled Dear Leader, is uniquely awful - a reckless failure for his own people and a growing menace to others, with a range of what he sees as needs which he is intent on fulfilling.

One need is for foreign exchange, in the form of export earnings (now almost entirely missiles, for sheer want of anything else) and foreign aid (for the most part extorted by menaces - if you don't give us aid, we'll develop more nuclear weapons).

Another of Kim's needs, as he sees it, is to acquire the means to intimidate others, including especially South Korea, the USA and Japan, and to proof himself against forced policy or regime change; hence his development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles, and his looming conventional forces, notably 11,000 artillery pieces, almost overlooking Seoul.

The rest of the world, too, has its needs, arising out of Kim's appalling policies, domestic and foreign. The first need is to get him to change those policies; and if that continues to prove impossible, to change him and his regime.


Next, we need to stop him developing nuclear weapons, for three reasons: to prevent his having them; to remove the inducement for Seoul and Tokyo to acquire them; and to stop him selling them to others, including terrorists, in his desperate search for a money-spinner.

At the same time, and for much the same reasons, we need to stop him developing and selling the means of delivering nuclear weapons - that is, ever-longer range missiles.

How might we meet those needs?

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An edited version of this article was first published in The Age on 10 March 2003.

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About the Author

Des Moore is Director, Institute for Private Enterprise and a former Deputy Secretary, Treasury. He authored Schooling Victorians, 1992, Institute of Public Affairs as part of the Project Victoria series which contributed to the educational and other reforms instituted by the Kennett Government. The views are his own.

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