Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Why North Korea worries Dick Cheney

By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
A North Korean soldier patrols the bank of the Yalu River, which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, on Saturday, April 26. A recent <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/17/world/asia/north-korea-un-report/index.html'>United Nations report</a> described a brutal North Korean state "that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world." A North Korean soldier patrols the bank of the Yalu River, which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, on Saturday, April 26. A recent United Nations report described a brutal North Korean state "that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world."
HIDE CAPTION
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dick Cheney gave GOP lawmakers a blunt assessment of N. Korean crisis
  • Ruben Navarrette says those who live on the U.S. west coast are particularly concerned
  • He says the fear is that Kim Jong Un backs himself into a corner

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette

San Diego, California (CNN) -- You know a global scenario is serious when even Darth Vader seems scared.

Developments in and around North Korea are so worrisome that they appear to have frightened Dick Cheney. The 72-year-old former vice president stopped by to visit with GOP lawmakers Tuesday and wound up talking about unpredictable, and perhaps unstable, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. According to sources present at the meeting, Cheney offered this blunt assessment of the crisis in the Korean peninsula: "We're in deep doo doo."

Oh, that's just terrific. It's spring, and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in the nation's capital. And so naturally our thoughts turn to... the threat of thermonuclear war?

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

We interrupt the politically driven debates in Washington over gun control and immigration control to bring you an important message about a world leader who may be out-of-control.

Welcome to the North Korean missile crisis. subtitled: The Missiles of April.

It's time to think the unthinkable. In fact, if you live in Hawaii, Guam, the Pacific Islands or, as I do, on the West Coast of the United States -- or, for that matter, anywhere else within range of this bad neighborhood -- it's probably long past time.

Just this week, CNN reported this:

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



"The Obama administration now calculates it is likely North Korea may test fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time based on the most recent U.S. intelligence showing it is likely the North Koreans have completed all launch preparations."

And this:

The official confirmed that U.S. satellites are monitoring the Korean peninsula and 'the belief is that the missiles have received their liquid fuel and are ready for launch.'"

And, a day later, it followed up with this:

"Countries in northeast Asia remained on edge Wednesday amid warnings from U.S. and South Korean officials that North Korea could carry out a missile test at any time."

Hagel: N. Korea nears 'dangerous line'
World awaits North Korea's next move
South Korea concerned about threats?
Is N. Korea a nuclear threat or not?

Japan has deployed missile defense systems around Tokyo, some Chinese tour groups have canceled visits to North Korea and U.S. radars and satellites are trained on an area of the Korean east coast where Kim Jong Un's regime is believed to have prepared mobile ballistic missiles for a possible test launch.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, didn't mince words when -- in remarks at a Senate Armed Services hearing this week -- he characterized the crisis as "a clear and direct threat to U.S. national security and regional peace and stability."

OK, Pyongyang, you have America's attention -- and, for that matter, the world's. What are you going to do now? Think very carefully about how you answer that question.

It seems that there is not much that U.S. leaders can do now but wait for Kim Jong Un to make the next move. But that's a high-stakes game, since he seems to be running out of moves that don't involve a missile launch. As experts on the region have been saying all week, perhaps the most worrisome aspect of this crisis is that the North Korean leader doesn't appear to have left himself an exit door.

If, after all this huffing and puffing and rattling of missiles, Kim Jong Un simply backs down and goes back to fiddling with his Play Station and making vacation plans with Dennis Rodman, could his own military see that as a sign of weakness and stage a coup? And so, the 30-year-old despot may feel as if he has no choice but to finish the game.

Given the volatility of the situation, President Obama and his security team have to be ready -- in the event of a missile launch -- to immediately respond forcefully. A clear and unequivocal message that goes beyond diplomacy would have to be sent. The response has to leave no doubt that this administration isn't playing games -- and that it means business.

That was the message that the heroic members of Seal Team 6 delivered in tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year. Obama's liberal base was overjoyed at the use of military force in dispatching bin Laden to the other world just before a presidential election. How could it object in this case, when once again Americans -- and our allies -- are being threatened?

That's the question. If there's an answer, let's hear it. And for the sake of those of us who are closest to the doo doo, let's hope we hear it soon.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
August 17, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 2146 GMT (0546 HKT)
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2024 GMT (0424 HKT)
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2035 GMT (0435 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2308 GMT (0708 HKT)
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT