It seems to me that whenever North Korea launches one of their missiles or decides they are going test another nuclear device, the rest of the world loses their collective mind, and needlessly so. North Korea is no threat to the United States, or anyone, but itself.
Let me explain. On one hand people seem to have the impression that North Korea is some grave threat to the West that needs to be stopped; on the other, people have this view of them as some unintelligent, cartoonish throwback to the Cold War, undermining its own credibility when it misidentifies target cities on propaganda maps. While their military is large, and they indeed could cause some damage, nuclear weapons or not, their hardware is mostly forty years out of date and they have no real way to project power outside their immediate surroundings, even if they develop a working ICBM. And as for the perception of North Korea run by stupid, crazy people, I completely reject that. They came out of the Cold War largely unscathed (and remain so) culturally and ideologically, while most other communist regimes collapsed or evolved towards capitalism. They are a nuclear power, a title only a handful of nations can claim, and they have a propaganda machine so good the regime essentially brainwashed 25 million people into believing their dear leader is a god.
All of this is to say the idea that North Korea is run by crazy people that will nuke either the States or their southern neighbor the very instant they have the capability is absurd. Rather than reckless belligerence, they have shown themselves to be calculating and precise, knowing just what buttons to press, and how hard to press them, without causing a metaphorical detonation. The bombardment of Yeonpyeong and the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan show pretty good examples of this. Causing casualties on your enemies without incurring any of your own shows a pretty remarkable amount of intelligence in my book, and wantonly nuking your enemies is the exact opposite way to go about that. I absolutely guarantee the regime running North Korea is smart enough to know they will lose a war they start with either the United States and/or South Korea, and they most certainly know that if they use a nuclear weapon in an offensive fashion, South Korea would become an island soon after.
For all the decades of posturing and chest beating, the Korean War hasn’t resumed. Much the same way the USSR and the US had the means and never exercised them, the same way India and Pakistan have the capability but remain fallout free, so too will the Korean Peninsula remain intact, as long as the participating parties continue to use some restraint.
So, what can we do? I’m all for sanctions as a moral action, but practically, North Korea has shown they will carry on regardless; attacking them would only cause an unneeded and bloody war. I really think the best thing we can do is ignore them. Their whole shtick is based on aggression by the West, and we feed that every time the news cycle starts interviewing generals about the best course of action to deal with the regime’s latest aggression. I am sure that North Korea would continue to pump out their anti-west rhetoric regardless of whether we give it fuel or not, but at that point we could at least claim the moral high ground, and they would at least have to go through the effort of making up stories on their own.
I mentioned at the beginning of this piece that I think the biggest threat to the regime of North Korea is itself. The libertarian community believes that communism doesn’t work. It hasn’t yet, and if we truly believe that, we must believe that an oppressive regime like that of the DPRK will eventually collapse and undo itself. As the rest of the world continues to progress around their island of stagnation and misery, and ever more sharply juxtaposes the situations of the North and South, the more the people of the North will see what the South has and start demanding it for themselves. We should certainly be there to help pick up the pieces, but the people of the North need to want change before we can do any good.
* ColoradoYeah runs the libertarian leaning coloradoyeah.com.
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