The law of the “goring ox” and Kim Jong Il

There is an intriguing law from the Torah concerning the law of the “goring ox” found in the Torah:

If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death (Exodus 21:29).

Talmudic tradition teaches that if the owner has been warned on three separate occasions that his bull has gored, the bull is considered a danger to society, and the owner must take special caution to protect the public from his animal. Should the bull continue to wreck havoc, the owner must pay for full restitution and the bull must be destroyed. This dictum does not apply if someone goaded a bull to gore, as in the case of a bull-fight. The bull’s viciousness must emanate from within the animal’s nature, and must not be induced from the outside.[1]

When we look at North Korea’s behavior, here is a country that fits the model of the “goring ox” mentioned in the Torah. North Korea’s behavior should not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with Kim Jong Il’s behavior.

When we assemble the pieces of the puzzle, North Korea’s blast and its recent April 5th rocket launch of a satellite into space have obvious implications for its long-range missile technology. As to be expected, the Security Council condemned the launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions.

What is Kim Jong Il looking to achieve? Some think the blast is a show of virility, namely, he is still a force to reckon with even though his health has deteriorated. Others think that Kim Jong Il wants to wrest more concessions from the West. However, there is another scenario that ought to be seriously considered: What if this recent test was part of a collaborative effort with the Iranians? North Korea is always hurting for money and Iran has the means to give the country what it wants in exchange for missile and nuclear technology. Put in simple terms, the Iranians may well have tested their very first nuclear bomb. By renting space in North Korea, the Iranians are letting North Korea be the “fall guy,” a role that North Korea has no qualms about playing–especially since its serves their purposes.

Shakespeare is famous for saying, “Methinks thou protest too much ….” Well this dictum could certainly be said about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who swiftly denied any connection—made it a special point to hustle out and had no problems feeding the media another lie. From Tehran, Reuters reports that Ahmadinejad denies any cooperation with North Korea on missiles or nuclear weapons: “We don’t have any cooperation [with North Korea] in this field.”

Right. Only the gullible and naive would believe that kind of remark.

For the record, on the matter of missile technology, Ahmadinejad’s remark is flagrantly false. Iran and North Korea have been cooperating for years, with experts going back and forth. Reuters notes that Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, which could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, is based on North Korea’s Nodong missile.

On the matter of nuclear weapons, far less is publicly known; but both countries have been part of the nuclear proliferation web spun by Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan. And North Korea already has a rap sheet for nuclear proliferation, with North Koreans spotted helping Syria in its secret construction of a copy of North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor — a would-have-been plutonium factory that was nearing completion on the Euphrates, and might now be active, had the Israelis not destroyed it with an air strike in September, 2007. This past March, a Swiss newspaper, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, reported allegations by a high-ranking Iranian defector, Ali Reza Asghari, formerly a deputy defense minister in Tehran, that Iran helped support the building — with North Korean help — of that Syrian reactor.

So, just how friendly are Kim Jong Il and Iran’s mullahs on things like nuclear bomb tests? Would it be too much to ask for a straight answer from the U.S. “intelligence” community? — which delivered a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate worded so as to defuse alarm over Iran’s nuclear projects, and thus derailed any action that might have by now defused the threat itself.

The military intelligence field definitely will dig at the subtext of this explosion. Countries like Japan and Taiwan are seriously thinking whether they too want to develop nuclear weapons. Should President Obama allow Iran to become a nuclear nation endowed with the capacity to develop as many nuclear bombs as it wishes, the most dangerous part of the civilized world will soon embark on their own nuclear programs just like Syria did earlier in the year.

Predictably, we will see other countries in Asia and Latin America work on similar projects; owning nuclear weapons gives a nation bragging rights and the ability to threaten neighbors. The nuclear-haves will bully and intimidate those nations that don’t own nuclear weapons. The state of affairs is, as Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was just quoted saying that a nuclear Iran is potentially “calamitous.”

“Calamitous” is a very charged but very descriptive word.

Mullen said, “I’m one who believes that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is calamitous for the region and for the world.”

When the most important military leader and adviser in the United States says that Iran is very dangerous, we ought to listen.

I have read many columnists who claim that both the United States and Israel will have to accept the fact that Iran has the bomb, but what they forget to mention is they plan to merchandize the bomb to every dictatorship that is willing to pay top dollar for the technology. Can we honestly expect civilization to survive when rogue nations threaten their neighbors with such destructive power? For President Obama, this is a moment of truth. The Iranians will be watching him very carefully. Let us pray he has the wisdom to make the right choice.

Like the law of the goring ox in Exodus, there can be no behavior modification  or therapy that will prevent an ox that is prone to goring. It will gore since that is part of its nature. The only question that remains, what shall we do to stop it from goring?

[1] Maimonides, MT, Nizekei Mammon 6:5.