It is tempting to respond with derision to a YouTube video posted the other day by the North Korean government depicting a missile attack of theirs on a U.S. city. The “attack” takes place during a dream sequence in the mind of a sleeping man who dreams that he is the pilot of a space ship that flies into orbit, drops its bombs on an American city, and returns to North Korea. North Korea’s missile and nuclear-weapons capabilities are nothing like the capabilities depicted in animated sequences in the video, but responding to the video with nothing but ridicule would be a great mistake.
Although the Kim-family regime that runs North Korea may engage in behavior that is bizarre or even laughable in our Western context, it is important to remember that the regime makes no effort conform to Western standards, to other international standards, or any standard other than its own. North Korea often engages in conduct that is rogue, violent, or irrational to us but is perfectly normal and reasonable to the regime and its followers.
We need to pay better attention to what North Korea says it will do, and we must be prepared for it to do what it says it is going to do. And the Hermit Kingdom’s regime has recently declared that one purpose of its missile and nuclear tests is to improve its ability to combat the U.S.
While North Korea doesn’t have aircraft like the we see launched into orbit and dropping a bomb on a U.S. city in the YouTube video, it does have a less advanced means of accomplishing the same result. In December, it successfully launched a long-range ballistic missile that could reach a U.S. city. Further, according to many news accounts, it will conduct a nuclear test quite soon that will be intended to supplement what it learned from its two prior nuclear tests.
We must take most seriously the fact that North Korea’s government now has acknowledged that the U.S. is a target of its missile and nuclear-weapons programs and has posted this video essentially endorsing the same objective on its official Web site. The security of Americans and the protection of American interests require no less.
Efforts to strengthen the U.S. missile-defense systems should be a top priority. We should abandon policies based on offering carrots and sticks to persuade the Kim family regime to abide by Western norms. — the goal of our policy should be to make it difficult for that regime to exist and to do all we can to bring about its peaceful demise.
— Jack David, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for combating weapons of mass destruction and negotiations policy from 2004 to 2006.