By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
January 7, 2004
Nuclear weapons are a real threat; a threat that has the power to leave you sleepless if you let it. Anyone who would employ nuclear weapons would have to believe that human causalities mean nothing and that they themselves are invincible because nuclear weapons have the potential to wipe out civilization. Endgame. But I believe nuclear weapons are necessary to the security of the United States and to the world at large because the technology to build them is widespread. However, it is important for nuclear weapons to be monitored and for as few countries as possible to possess them in limited numbers. If we dont have them for our defense they become a much greater weapon in the hands of an enemy. So everybody wants them. They cant be bullied if they have them because then a certain amount of fear accompanies any negotiations. Bigger military might means nothing when youre sitting across the table from someone with enough nuclear force to wipe out your entire country. They need only the equipment to launch.
And this whole situation has produced a tangled web of circumstances that very likely takes years to comprehend. The gist is this: the United States pays out billions of dollars a year in aid to countries in compliance with United Nations policies and restrictions, this includes countries like France and Germany and countries like North Korea. In effect, this acts as bribe money. It is something to threaten to take away if things dont go the way the powers that be want them to go. I suppose it seems like a good strategic move. Give them something so we have leverage and take very little from them so that they have none and the United States will have the upper hand in all negotiations. They can still tell us to shove it, but it will hurt them economically to do so. Doesnt it seem like smart politics? And it may be. But this policy seems to have led North Koreas leader to flip the rules around. In October of 2002, North Koreas top military commander Kim Jong II announced that his country was going to begin a nuclear weapons campaign even though to do so was prohibited. Since then, as lately as December 23, Kim has announced to his people to be ready to fight a nuclear war with the United States. Meanwhile, hes also playing the diplomatic angle and agreeing to meet with the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan and Russia for talks about disbanding his nuclear weapons. But he wants economic and humanitarian aid, security assurances, diplomatic ties and new power plants.
A spokesperson for North Koreas foreign ministry said December 10, What is clear is that in no case the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, North Korea) would freeze its nuclear activities unless it is rewarded. Its blackmail. Highjackers arent in the plane, but its blackmail all the same. They want more than what they were getting. They want off the United States terrorist sponsor list and they want a peace treaty from the U.S. that is irrevocable. And they want more economic aid. The question is can we afford to make those concessions? When North Korea announced it was starting up a nuclear weapons campaign (a tool theyve used before to wheedle concessions) the U.S. and its allies cut off 147 million gallons of annual free oil and early this month U.S. allies stopped construction of two nuclear power plants in North Korea after negotiations stalled. Meanwhile, KCNA, the official news agency in North Korea announced on December 22 on the anniversary of Kims climb to power that it is a great miracle in history which can be wrought only by him that socialist Korea has emerged a world military power in the international arena. Reward him and what will happen? His people believe hes genius. How many other countries will clamor to begin nuclear campaigns only to wheedle out more aid? And if hes allowed to keep developing his weapons, what will be the result? Only time will tell. But new talks are expected to begin just after the new year.
[All facts are drawn from MSNBC.com, search words Korea and nclear]
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.
The Banks County News
January 7, 2004
What makes it a great holiday?
Did you have a good holiday? How was Christmas? Was Santa good to you? These are common questions from friends and co-workers after the Christmas holiday is over.
This holiday was a little different for me, but my answer was the same as always. It was a wonderful Christmas.
I spent Christmas Eve having my wisdom teeth taken out. I didnt get to enjoy the Christmas Eve dinner with my family. Then on Christmas Day, I stayed home on the couch all the day. I have spent the day with the same family and friends for more than 30 years, but I just couldnt make it this year. To top it all off, I had to pay the oral surgeon almost $800-on Christmas Eve!!
My holiday may not sound like the best, but you know what, it was great. I had plenty of time to think about the birth of Jesus and all of the blessings that I have because of this. I have my health. I have a loving family. I have a job, a car to drive, a home to live in, food to eat and clothes to wear. What more could I want?
When I look back on this holiday, I wont remember the pain in my mouth or in my pocketbook. Instead, Ill be thankful for all of the blessings that I have. Some of the memories that will go in my mental file box to be pulled out and enjoyed include: my nephew running around the house in his little Santa suit and the joy he had during the holiday, whether opening gifts or visiting with his young cousins; my cat curling up in the holiday boxes and bags for a little nap; the sweet baby who smiled and yawned his way through his performance as Baby Jesus in the Christmas program at church; the adorable toddler who headed to his mother in the choir after his part of the play was over; our first Christmas tea and seeing our friends and family wearing hats and smiles over scones and hot tea; decorating our new house for the first time with lots of trees and holiday scenes; and our holiday trip to Nashville that came just before I got the horrible tooth ache. Thank you, Jesus, for letting me get home before the pain started.
It was a wonderful holiday. I may not have gobbled down turkey and dressing or made all of the social events that I usually do during Christmas, but it didnt dampen my spirits at all. Its a wonderful time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus and I didnt let a little oral surgery stop my enjoyment of the time.
Angela Gary is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.