Friday, August 18, 2006

Iran And North Korea Continue To Spar With U.S.

Friday at Camp David, President Bush expressed concern that the world would face a grave threat if North Korea tested a nuclear bomb for the first time. ABC News reported on Thursday that U.S. intelligence had observed activity at a potential North Korean nuclear test site and an unidentified senior State Department official said a test was a "real possibility."

"If North Korea were to conduct a test, it's just a constant reminder for people in the neighborhood, in particular, that North Korea poses a threat," Bush said. "We expect our friends and those sitting around the table with us to act in such a manner as to help rid the world of the threat."

Elsewhere, in Lebanon, Hezbollah began handing out money to residents whose homes and businesses had been destroyed in the 34-day war with Israel. It is not known how much money has been distributed yet but the move is sure to increase support for the Iranian-backed group in the war-torn country.

Both situations show a continuing desire on the part of Iran and North Korea to rattle their sabers at the U.S. for different reasons. Iran wanting to show Israel, the U.S. and the international community their strength in Lebanon, the Middle East at large and the Shi'ite community everywhere. North Korea wanting to force the U.S. and the world into agreeing to concessions that will help their crumbling economy and infrastructure.

While both countries certainly don't want to force the United State's hand militarily, clearly they see the Bush administration fighting the worldwide perception that the U.S. is stretched thin in Iraq, Afghanistan and now in Lebanon as it works to maintain a still potentially volatile cease fire. It's also clear that U.S. citizens are beginning to show signs of becoming war-weary and are increasingly pessimistic about success in Iraq.

With mid-term elections looming that every day look more gloomy for the GOP, President Bush can ill afford to respond to the constant jabs being thrown at his administration in any way that would seem to the American public to be a military escalation. Diplomacy, which may be a dirty word to some in the West Wing, will have to be the mantra. However, should the elections in November surprise the pollsters and show continuing support for Bush and GOP policies, the call from the Neo-Conservatives to get off the ropes and start swinging will grow louder than ever before.

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