Reader Mail

Ben Stein’s North Korea

Making the connection with Iraq. Plus lots more.

1.1.03

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A HOLIDAY HIT
Re: Steve Hornbeck's 'Twas Just Before Christmas:

Wonderful! And what's truly amazing is that someone who once wrote for Politically Incorrect's host (nameless here, forevermore) could pen something as bitingly observant of our Democratic hopefuls. I can't help but wonder what he wrote that "BM" would say on the air!
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, TX

CRISIS OF EVIL
Re: Ben Stein's Iraq and North Korea in Cahoots?:

Yes, a diversionary tactic by a valued member of the Axis of Evil (N. Korea) to confuse American strategists and commentators as we prepare for war on the most proximate threat (Iraq). Exactly the thought I've been mulling since Pyongyang started acting up, only Ben wrote it first and wrote it more cogently. That illumination needs to get out, especially to such as the editors of the L.A. Times, who can't get beyond the sophistry that Korea merits more urgent attention. If the Bush administration understands this, that would explain the downplaying of the "crisis" in its weekend media outings. Baghdad first. Then we take care of the peninsula's playboy potentate.
-- K. E. Grubbs Jr.
Irvine, CA

Ben Stein, bless him, is thinking like a lawyer when he asks whether Iraq and North Korea are in cahoots. Perhaps he wonders, as do many thoughtful folk, whether there is an evidentiary basis, a paper trail perhaps, supporting the prosecutorial theory that the two states conspire against us. He, and they, need not trouble themselves with this question.

In geopolitics, as in jazz, coordinated actions by multiple parties do not require sheet music. The actions of states on the global chessboard are driven by interests. Whether or not North Korea and Iraq have ever exchanged memos or taken meetings to plan the current gambit against the United States, they are perforce acting in concert since they have a common, overwhelming interest: victory. It is entirely unnecessary for there to have been explicit planning, or for there to be ongoing conferencing for cahoots to be cahoots. Jazz musicians improvise exquisitely, each responding to the others, anticipating melodic and rhythmic ploys with no explicit forewarning. Bees build architectural marvels, in concert, with not a single feasibility study or planning memo. Likewise, our enemies and adversaries.

The axis of evil is real. There may never come a day when somebody can produce the sort of documentary evidence of this conspiracy that would satisfy an Orange County jury -- there may well be no such material.

There are, however, and, sadly, will be many more smoking guns. Of course Iraq and North Korea are in cahoots, and it matters not a whit if these cahoots are de facto rather than de jure. From our point of view, there is no difference, nor is there any other point of view that is of any interest to us in this matter.

Bravo, Mr. Stein. Shout it loud, shout it often.
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, FL

Good work, Ben. You got the attention of Army planners. Your article was carried on the West Point alumni site -- wp-forum. The collaboration you suggest is too obvious to be ignored. They (Iraq and NK) have vital interests at stake. They would be irresponsible Bad Guys not to be talking to each other. They read the tea leaves. They read George W's press releases. I like the line of the Administration: "We are not negotiating; this is not a crisis; bad news, but no reason to negotiate and reward a reckless tyrant." Pretty good stuff.

The problem I see, is the point you make. Let's not try to do this one on a shoestring. We need to increase the number of good guys on the ground. We need an increase in end strength -- total folks in uniform. The Democrats took a number of peace dividends: creeping inflation not met with pay increases, reductions in medical benefits, cuts in maintenance and training costs, cuts in the training base, reductions in strategic reserves, ammunition accounts depleted and not replaced, and back to back deployments of troops in uniform. Combat training subjects in some cases replaced with sensitivity training and "How to Be a Good Peacekeeper," etc. Wore the "pigs" down to a frazzle. I'll bet Hillary and Bill got some big laughs over that payback.

Keep up the good work! I read your column regularly in TAS. Happy New Year!
-- Andy O'Meara
Retired Army
Fredericksburg, VA

Ben Stein makes an interesting suggestion (that Iraq and North Korea are in strategic collaboration).

But I must question his assertion that the U.S. should substantially increase its military spending. The U.S. presently spends about 3% of GDP on defense; that is, about $300 billion. The combined total GDP of Iraq and North Korea is only about $80 billion. Iraq is still massively crippled from the Gulf War (they haven't replaced any of the tanks, planes, helicopters, and cannon lost then). If the U.S. cannot squish both regimes like bugs, then we have problems, but the problems are not the budget.

Oh, and one nit to pick: U.S. defense spending was 10% of GDP during the 1950s, but dropped to 5.4% by 1975, and was only 6.4% in 1986, at the height of the Reagan build-up. Now the USSR, which was our great foe, is dead and buried. We don't need the scale of military force we had then, or the budget we had then. Military spending is like any other government spending: it takes from the people, and even when administered scrupulously, it corrupts and distorts the economy.
-- Rich Rostrom

Iraq and N. Korea may be acting in concert as you suggest or, N. Korea may just be taking advantage of our focus on Iraq. Why wouldn't China do the same with regard to Taiwan? We admit we only have a two-regional-war capacity, so when we are engaged with Iraq and N. Korea, the Chinese may view it as the perfect opportunity to cross the strait into Taiwan.
-- Chris Small
Winston-Salem, NC

Of course Iraq and Korea act in cahoots. I believe that they are also working with forces in Colombia and more importantly Venezuela. With cells in over 60 countries and an untold number of allied anti-Americans we can expect a world wide effort to destabilize our society.
-- Ed Wager

BOXER BETWEEN THE EARS
Re: The Washington Prowler's Barbara Boxer's Big Plans:

I would just love for California Sen. Barbara Boxer to run for California Governor in 2006. I wonder if the stupidity of the Dems truly knows no boundaries. Imagine the genius who told Boxer she could win against the Republican opponent. We all do remember who that will be, don't we? Bottom line...he'll terminate her.
-- Nancy Mowat

FORWARD TO THE FUTURE
Re: Jed Babbin's Once More, Into the Breach:

Great Article, no apologies necessary. The silent majority can be silent no longer. We are ready for the future, bring it on! We can handle it, whatever it is.
-- A. McGaughey
Laguna Beach, CA

Mr. Babbin's article is right on target. As a nation, America is at a watershed. We have a possible war on our hands in which we will go after the world's current greatest threat to everyone. Why this action is unpopular and opposed by so many is a mystery to me. I just wish that they could have seen the actual results of the rise of Adolf Hitler. Then, perhaps, they would be more supportive of President Bush. Despite an unending string of failed attempts, they still live in the dream world that somehow we can talk our way to peace with rabid dogs like a Hitler or a Saddam or that nut case in charge of North Korea or any other of a number of dictators around the world....

There is no arguing with liberals since they rely on feelings instead of the truth and facts. You hear them everyday blaming America for the world's ills and that somehow we were responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 à la Sen. Patty "Osama Mama" Murray (Taliban-WA)....
-- Al Martin
Portland, OR

PARTY TIME
Sounds like Ms. Sharon Boone, in her letter published in Reader Mail December 30, 2002, has fallen for one of the many so called racist tricks pulled by the Republican Leadership. She leads the charge for African-Americans to form their own party in three years. Sorry, Ms. Boone, but that will be too late for the next election cycle! Her tirade brings to mind campaigns in which literature is distributed that states that if the weather is bad on the seventh, you can always vote on the tenth. I always wondered, but now I know, who would fall for such a trick. Good luck Ms. Boone, may you someday see the truth.
-- Vernon Rocco
Freeland, MD

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