Hill, it must be noted, is the chief U.S. negotiator in the so-called six-party talks with the North Koreans about their nuclear weapons program. In February, four months after the communist regime tested a nuclear weapon, Hill proudly announced that the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China had all agreed that the despotic regime in Pyongyang would stop building nuclear bombs and that we would all just get along.
Unfortunately, the scheme came off the tracks almost immediately -- and little has been done to implement the deal. Experts we interviewed for a "War Stories" documentary on nuclear weapons estimate that North Korea already has reprocessed enough plutonium to build 10 to 12 bombs. Neither this lethal material -- nor any of North Korea's nuclear sites -- has been open to international inspection.
The State Department's infatuation with talk for the sake of talking is evident in Hill's assessment of the consequence of the North Korean missile test: "I know that it will not affect the six-party talks." Meanwhile, here in South Korea, more than 34,000 U.S. military personnel are serving as guardians on freedom's forgotten front. Many are veterans of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most are serving a 12-month tour far from home, family and friends.
While the diplomats ponder what a North Korean missile test may or may not mean, these young Americans and their Republic of Korea counterparts have to face reality across the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. Within 60 miles of the DMZ, Pyongyang has stationed more than 1.2 million active-duty military personnel, 1,600 aircraft and 700 ships, including the world's largest submarine force.
According to the Strategic Digest posted by U.S. Forces Korea, "more than 250 long-range artillery systems are within range of Seoul from their current locations." Add to that at least 600 SCUD ballistic missiles capable of delivering chemical or biological warheads anywhere on the peninsula and it's easy to see why the South Koreans decided to build Aegis-equipped warships.
Is it too much to hope that our State Department would take the threat just as seriously?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.