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Opinion

February 20, 2013

Let's think about our priorities overseas

With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta retiring and his successor yet to be confirmed, now is a good time for American voters to examine global threats to our national security and decide which should take precedent. Without getting too specific, let’s consider two countries, and which poses the greater peril.

• The first nation is a non-nuclear state that, according to U.S. intelligence, is still years away from being capable of producing weapons-grade nuclear material. It has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, for what it’s worth, and has a right to peaceful nuclear energy. This country was a U.S. ally during World War II and hasn’t invaded another country since 1739.

• The second nation is a nuclear state, having conducted multiple successful tests with enriched uranium. It withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and has refused to allow weapons inspectors onto its soil. Its leaders have bragged repeatedly that they’re working on an intercontinental ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to American shores, and it recently released a propaganda video depicting an entire U.S. city reduced to a smoldering ruin. Just last week, it threatened a neighbor with “final destruction.”

If you’ve seen the withering barrage of criticism launched by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., during the confirmation process of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, you would think the answer to this question is A — Iran; followed by (trick question) C — a handful of thugs roaming the desert around Benghazi, Libya, hoping for a chance to kill an American.

In a distant third, you have B — North Korea, led by a brutal young Stalinist who fancies himself as some kind of modern, nuke-wielding Genghis Khan. You know, the one who has hardly been mentioned, if at all, during the Hagel hearings. Oh, and by the way, it’s by far the nearest of the three to U.S. shores.

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