posted on Feb, 7 2003 @ 12:30 PM
This is a newspaper letter to the editor from Jan. 30:
Iraq greater threat than North Korea
While on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, I served in both Southwest Asia and South Korea in roles as a war fighter and a war planner.
The belief that North Korea is the greater threat to the United States is somewhat uninformed or even naive. Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, I believe that
North Korea was the greater threat, but since then the situation has changed dramatically.
Let's assume that both nations possess or are very near to developing nuclear weapons. Let's also assume that the North Koreans have a viable
delivery system (Taepodong 2). The situation on the Korean Peninsula is static, with large forces deployed on both sides of the DMZ.
The North Koreans have more than 1 million troops. Along the DMZ there are more than 10,000 artillery pieces and more than 200 (260 millimeter)
multiple rocket launchers. Many of these are capable of delivering chemical warheads all the way to Seoul, which has a population of 10.5 million.
Should the U.S. and South Korea attempt a conventional war to rid the North of nuclear weapons, the toll in human lives would be immense. We rely on
our own nuclear deterrent options to inhibit the North's use of chemical and nuclear weapons.
The cost/benefit analysis of North Korea's first strike against the U.S. with nuclear weapons demonstrates how the North is unlikely to choose that
option. The range and accuracy of the Taepodong 2 limits it to attacking the Aleutian Islands and parts of the Alaskan mainland. The retaliatory
strike from the United States, regardless of size and scope, would devastate Pyongyang.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the situation with Iraq became extraordinarily more complicated. The Iraqis don't possess the means to strike the United States
directly, and the use of their missile systems to deliver a chemical or nuclear weapon within the region would result in a retaliatory strike similar
to that in the Korean situation.
So why are the Iraqis the greater threat? Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have become the de facto frontline troops arrayed against the
United States for Saddam Hussein. They have proved themselves as a clear and present danger by killing more than 3,000 on U.S. soil.
The likelihood of al-Qaida obtaining and using a weapon of mass destruction against the United States is directly related to the Iraqis' ability to
produce nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. If al-Qaida or some other terrorist organization employs one of these weapons against us in a suicide
attack, whom do we strike in retaliation? We have no retaliatory deterrent against such a terrorist attack.
The next war with Iraq is akin to the air interdiction mission in an air/land battle. That mission is to delay, disrupt and destroy personnel and
equipment before it can be deployed to the front and employed against our troops.
We must eliminate the Iraqi ability to build these weapons, because the alternative is unacceptable. If al-Qaida obtains one of these weapons, our
chances of preventing it from getting to U.S. soil are greatly reduced. Our only option then is to pray, and hope you're not in the wrong place at
the wrong time.
Maj. Charles D. Maxwell
U.S. Air Force Reserves