North Korea's Missile Fizzle

The ballistic missile launch from East Asia’s favorite problem child is making everyone go ballistic. Even though the triple-stage missile’s second and third stages failed, and Pyongyang’s attempt to (wink, wink) launch a peaceful communications satellite ended in an unplanned splashdown somewhere between Japan and Alaska.

What’s freaking the U.S. out is that a three-stage missile could be an ICBM capable reaching the West Coast 5,000 miles away. Add in North Korea’s nuclear program and the possibility that it has developed some kind of primitive atomkc bomb, and there is cause for worry.

But I’m not worried about North Korea. Their missile failed, which goes to show that sticking an extra stage on to a shorter-range rocket does not an ICBM make. They would also need to miniaturize the warhead because of the Taepodong 2’s limited payload. Come to think of it, the U.S. and Russia test their ICBMs infrequently, so we’re not even positive if our advanced intercontinental missiles would land on Moscow or Canada. It’s hard to believe North Korea would do much better.

What worries me is our response. North Korea’s faux ICBM will be hailed as reason to build an extremely expensive missile defense system that likely won’t work any better than the half-assed rockets they’re trying to shoot down. At the same time, there will be more pressure for the U.S. to take pre-emptive action to forestall any threat. Fortunately, Obama isn’t eager for another war.

North Korea is your sister’s psychotic kid who’s crying for attention and willing to break windows to get it. He needs an intervention, but a gunfight isn’t it.

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