Friday, June 19, 2009

Cold War Replay -- But This Time The Risk Is Real

Movies, as they often do, reflect the mood and public perception of the time. There’s a great scene in the 1983 movie War Games, with a very young Mathew Broderick and Alley Sheedy, trying to convince the reclusive inventor (played by John Wood) that his computer isn’t playing a simulated war game, but actually is calculating real missile launch trajectories to win a nuclear war.

It isn’t until Broderick’s character teaches the computer how to play Checkers that the computer realizes, just as in a game of Checkers; no one would ever win a nuclear war.

Problem is North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il doesn’t appear to understand this concept, as his continued nuclear missile tests form the basis for a new Cold War.

Kim Jong-ilImage via Wikipedia

Yesterday, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Daily reported that North Korea had long-range nuclear missiles which they are going to be test firing towards Hawaii between July 4 and July 8.

Ironic, just as Americans will be lighting fireworks to celebrate their nation’s birth on the Fourth of July, North Korea may be sending off their own version of a firework – only this one has a long-range Taepodong-2 type nuclear warhead, which has a range of up to 6,500 KM (about 4,039 miles.)

Politicians and diplomats from Russia and China are trying to open a dialogue with North Korea, to stop the continued tests, but talk appears to be cheap. The sanctions by the United Nations Security Council imposed after the last North Korean nuclear rocket launch on May 25 don’t seem to be working.

Japan is particularly concerned, as any rockets fired towards Hawaii must pass over them – posing a grave risk to all inhabitants should th

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 3: South Kore...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

e missile fail to reach its destination.

The country’s leader Kim Jong-il isn’t worrying about the risks associated with these nuclear missile tests.

And here lies the real risk – Jong-il’s lack of concern for the people in the countries around him – or even perhaps for his own citizens -- makes him a very dangerous person.

The real “war” in the Cold War of the 1980’s was a war of words. Each side would verbally threaten the other through use of the mainstream media. Messages were sent by each side, threatening to use nuclear weapons – but in the end, thankfully both the “Ruskies” and the Americans were smart enough to realize the consequences of launching an all-out nuclear war.

Jong-il’s war isn’t one of words, but of actions. The more global leaders talk of sanctions, and diplomats attempt to cool the tensions with discussions and dialogue, the more nuclear missile tests North Korea conducts and the more nuclear-grade weapon materials North Korea produces.

However, when you’ve got nuclear weapons of mass destruction – and you can’t get more massively destructive than a nuclear blast – actions are not the wisest thing to take.

Stronger measures must be taken against North Korea’s nuclear missile program by all world leaders. The United Nations is on the right track, but something more must be done. Otherwise, the face of planet Earth may one day be as barren as Mars. And we have yet to find life on Mars.

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