Conventional wisdom holds that the Cold War is over. But is it? Consider the implications of Secretary of Defense Cheney's recent commitment to keep large numbers of American troops in South Korea, on the grounds that such defenses are required because North Korea is at the threshold of nuclear capability.
Cheney didn't say so, but the implication is clear: The presence of 40,000 U.S. troops currently based in South Korea would deter North Korea from striking its neighbor with nuclear bombs. To do so, the implication goes on, would invite swift and certain obliteration of North Korea. It's a variation of the old mutual assured destruction theory.
Whether that theory is accurate is problematical. After all, North Korea's dictator, Kim Il-Sung, is the senior national leader in the world. Harry Truman was president when Kim Il-Sung came to power. Who knows whether this aging despot still retains sufficient judgment not to drop a nuclear bomb on the American "invaders" of his peninsula? Who knows whether he might not start a nuclear war, or at least use nuclear blackmail, in a final embittered gasp as he sees communism collapsing all around him?