- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Clinton's legacy: The new world disorder

A perfect example of the New World Disorder Bill Clinton and Al Gore are bequeathing to their successors can be found north of the 38th Parallel on the Korean Peninsula.

On the one hand, impoverished, Communist North Korea is leading its rich, democratic neighbor to the south in a diplomatic dance that is mesmerizing Western policy-makers with visions of sugar-plum treaties, economic engagement and "peace in our time."

On the other hand, North Korea continues to prepare for war. Worse yet, with its burgeoning proliferation of ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction technology, Pyongyang is sowing the seeds for mayhem elsewhere around the world. Nowhere does this appear to be more menacingly true than in that most explosive of tinderboxes: the Middle East.

The latest round of bilateral diplomacy will occur this week as defense ministers Cho Song-Tae of South Korea and Kim Il-chol of North Korea meet on the South Korean island of Cheju. This meeting is expected to address issues such as trans-border railroad construction, a security hotline between the two countries and "confidence-building measures."

Unfortunately, there appears to be precious little basis for "confidence" that North Korea has actually changed course; if not, the upshot of this latest bilateral fandango may be to exacerbate the likelihood of conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Indeed, last Friday's New York Times reported that a new, leaked Pentagon study concludes that: "While the historic summit between the North and the South holds the promise of reconciliation and change, no evidence exists of the fundamental precursors for change. There is little or no evidence of economic reform or reform-minded leaders, reduction in military or a lessening of anti-U.S. rhetoric."

Worse yet, each passing day seems to bring fresh evidence of North Korea's determined contribution to a more disorderly if not a vastly more dangerous planet. Its dictator, Kim Jong-il, regards ballistic missiles as an export commodity, one of the few things his country produces that can provide its bankrupt regime with infusions of hard currency. He recently acknowledged that his country is selling missile technology to its fellow rogue states. These include:

• Iran. Tehran has just conducted its latest flight test of the so-called Shahab-3 ballistic missile, believed to have been derived from North Korea's No Dong missile. When deployed, it will be capable of delivering chemical, biological or even small nuclear weapons against Israel.

In the past, the Iranian government paraded a Shahab-3 through the streets of Tehran, accompanied by posters that said, "Israel should be wiped from the map" and "The U.S.A. can do nothing." While the most recent test apparently failed shortly after liftoff, it is unlikely the Islamists in Tehran will be dissuaded from pursuing the means by which they can threaten immense harm to the "Great Satan," its friends and interests.

• Libya. On Sept. 24, the London Sunday Telegraph revealed that Libya has completed its own, ominous missile deal with North Korea. According to the Telegraph, Moammar Gadhafi's unreconstructed, terrorist-sponsoring regime has secretly taken delivery of the first of 50 No Dong missiles and seven mobile launchers from Pyongyang:

"Despite co-operating closely with Iran and Yugoslavia on developing missile technology, both the Libyan missile projects have encountered severe development problems. The deal with Pyongyang will enable Col. Gadhafi to bypass his own development programs as the North Koreans will provide him with ready-made ballistic missiles which will soon be able to pose a significant threat to the security of Israel and Southern Europe."

North Korea is said to have supplied, in addition to the missiles themselves, nine engineers who will presumably not only abet Libya in wielding the threat its No Dongs represent but will assist Col. Gadhafi in acquiring still longer-range delivery capabilities for his weapons of mass destruction.

• Syria. On Sept. 25, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that "Syria successfully tested its first North Korean ground-to-ground Scud-D missile early Saturday morning" and that Israel's "military establishment was somewhat surprised by the model of missile fired." The longer range and mobility of the Scud Ds mean that Syrian forces will be able to hold Israel at risk from a much larger area, considerably decreasing the likelihood that the vaunted Israeli air force will be able to locate and disable these weapons before they are used to rain weapons of mass destruction down on the Jewish State.

• Iraq/Sudan. North Korea also is reportedly helping Iraq to build a Scud missile manufacturing plant near Khartoum in the Sudan. Such a facility will presumably greatly facilitate the proliferation of ballistic missiles in Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

In light of these developments, it is mind-boggling that the Clinton-Gore administration persists in seeking normalized ties with North Korea and downplaying the newly leaked Pentagon report to the contrary notwithstanding the real risks associated with its continued appeasement of Pyongyang.

No less disturbing are two other, related Clinton-Gore policy mistakes: First, the administration is trying to nail down a multilateral agreement creating a so-called "Global Action Plan Against Missile Proliferation (GAP)." This initiative was spawned by Russian President Vladimir Putin who, during a visit to Pyongyang, cooked up the idea of paying the North Koreans to give up their ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles (rockets inherently capable of being used to deliver not only payloads into space but weapons to Earth-bound targets thousands of miles away) as a means of derailing U.S. missile defenses. Even though Kim Jong-il subsequently dismissed the idea, the U.S. and others are actively proposing to launch satellites for the North (and other ballistic missile wannabe states), perhaps even paying for the privilege of doing so.

Second, President Clinton has deferred to his successor any action on deploying competent American missile defenses. By so doing, he has compounded the danger already made too real by his earlier, adamant opposition to fielding effective anti-missile systems: The likelihood that the United States will be obliged to deploy such defenses after they are needed, rather than before.

Of course, if Israel or someplace else we care about to say nothing of the United States, itself is struck by a ballistic missile-delivered weapon of mass destruction, the debate about deploying missile defenses will be over. In its place will be a national commitment to a Manhattan Project-style crash program imbued with the utmost national priority and a charter to put an array of protective layers in place at the earliest possible moment.

But by then, the true, menacing nature of the New World Disorder that is going to be Bill Clinton's most dangerous legacy will have become evident to all Americans.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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