May 28, 2009
Obama's NSA - NoKo's no 'imminent threat' -- then why raise alert level?
More Keystone Kops foreign policy from Obama. In this piece by Roxana Trion in The Hill, we discover our national security advisor dismissing the North Korean threat:
President Obama's national security adviser on Wednesday said that North Korea's recent nuclear detonation and missile tests are not "an imminent threat" to the safety and security of the United States.
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, in his first speech on the administration's approach to national security, said that the "imminent threat" posed by North Korea is that of the proliferation of nuclear technologies to other countries and terrorist organizations.
North Korea still has "a long way" to "weaponize" and work on the delivery of its nuclear missiles before they pose a threat to U.S. security, Jones said in a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council.
"Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us," Jones said. "We knew that they were going to do this, they said so, so no reason not to believe them."
Very true. No need to worry quite yet that Kim will lob a missile or two toward the US.
But why then, have we raised our alert level?
One day after North Korea warned of a possible attack against the South, the United States and South Korea ordered their forces here to their highest alert for three years, increasing surveillance flights and satellite reconnaissance to counter what officials termed a "grave threat."
The move was the latest sign of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test on Monday, sparking a confrontation with South Korea and the international community that has built into ever more bellicose rhetoric. North Korea reinforced its menacing language by test-firing six short-range missiles earlier in the week.
The South Korean Defense Ministry said allied troops, including, 28,000 U.S. soldiers based in South Korea, raised their Watch Condition, or Watchcon, to the second-highest level from Watchcon 3 to Watchcon 2.
That report by Choe Sang Hun of the New York Times makes it clear that the North Korean threat is being taken very seriously by the White House. Good, that's the way it should be.
But why go out of your way to downplay the threat by trotting out your national security advisor to state the obvious?
Mixed signals in diplomacy can be deadly. At this point, it appears the administration is indeed taking the threat seriously. But being unambiguous about it would have been much better.