Independence Day 2006 was one of the more bizarre birthdays in our nation's history. After several days of postponement, NASA launched the Discovery shuttle, marking the first Independence Day launch ever. However, the numerous objections to the launch issued by experts within NASA, who argued that the shuttle was in need of further fuel-tank repairs was troubling.
Additionally, a group of anti-war protesters, led by Cindy Sheehan and a number of Hollywood elites, embarked on an Independence Day fast that some participants claim will continue until US troops return from Iraq. One might wonder whether Sheehan & Co. are protesting the war or entering into a suicide pact. After all, depending on one's body mass — which Hollywood elites are generally short of — a person can only survive a few weeks without food. To be sure, conservatives are eager to see how this one plays out.
Still, the most bizarre development yesterday was North Korea's decision to light off some fireworks of their own. Unlike the bottle rockets that Americans were setting off throughout the country, the North's rockets have the added potential of delivering a nuclear payload to US soil. While the six rockets launched by the North can be collectively described as a failed endeavor, the communist regime did learn an important law of physics: what goes up must come down; in this case, the missiles went up, and egg came down — all over their smug little faces.
The immediate response by the international community was to condemn the North's "provocation," which the United States, Japan, and others were working feverishly to avoid over the past few weeks. Of course, the major concern was the launching of the North's long-range missile, the Taepodong-2, which has the potential to strike targets in the United States. Despite the chorus of condemnations that the North's belligerence provoked, the communist regime went on to fire a seventh missile earlier today; only one of the seven missiles fired had long-range capabilities.
Today, the Bush Administration must decipher the message behind the North's launching. Is Kim Jung Il planning to make a move against his country's immediate neighbors and the United States? Or is he simply attempting to step out from under his father's dominating reputation?
More importantly, how will the Bush Administration respond to the North's violations of the 1999 moratorium on missile tests, which the North signed? Surely, President Bush intends to respond to the North with something more than a sharply-worded letter from the UN Security Council. Indeed, name calling and whining alone will hardly deter future violations by the North.