Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Is it irresponsible to treat NK threats as just rhetoric?

After threats of war, warning diplomats to evacuate the area, and now declaring Nuclear War is unavoidable, what is an appropriate response to North Korea? This is, unfortunately, a silly question by any of us outside the global intelligence field. We are not privy to most of the pertinent information. And even if we were keeping close tabs on the news reports about Kim Jong-un, we would still be poorly informed of the particulars and still unqualified to make judgements about the situation. But that never seems to stop anyone else from commenting.

It may be standard diplomatic protocol to apply international pressure on North Korea, as the United States and China are doing. The two nations have agreed to push for the “peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” even if this is likely to have little if any positive impact on the situation. There is reason to question what qualifications Kim Jong-un has to lead a country. He is quite young, and has little experience in such matters. His boisterous threats of late are not what one should expect from a wise and seasoned leader. So the question is, are his threats merely empty rhetoric, or is he inexperienced and foolish enough to actually follow through?

Responsible leaders around the world should be acting as though North Korea intends on doing exactly as they have threatened. Formal diplomatic relations can sugar coat the situation and provide cover for military preparations. One concern some have is that diplomacy has a tendency to merely delay the inevitable, giving time for war mongers to build up forces, while peace lovers do nothing but talk (because preparing for military conflict would be seen as “provocative”). While fools may not be able to distinguish between war mongers and wise nations preparing to defend themselves against war mongers, we find ourselves in a situation with similar circumstances as one merely a generation ago.

Iraq’s Saddam Hussein made threats and actually invaded neighbors. The United Nations was called in to defend the invaded countries. The UN mandate was not to defeat Hussein, but merely to drive his forces out of the lands he invaded. Iraq refused to follow subsequent UN edicts and diplomatic efforts proved useless in the effort to contain Hussein. When Hussein failed to comply with UN sanctions, eventually then President Bush saw fit to finally deal with him. But suddenly, the vast array of intelligence and common knowledge about the threat posed by Iraq were no where to be found. We forgot about Hussein’s use of chemical weapons (weapons of mass destruction) against his own people and decided he never possessed WMDs in the first place. We forgot about previous administrations criticizing Republicans for “ignoring Iraq’s ties to terrorism“. The theory that Iraq’s WMDs were moved to Syria was dismissed (though new evidence once again supporting the theory has been found – apparently merely deciding a theory is debunked isn’t the same as actually debunking it). The immense collection of intelligence showing Iraq should be dealt with as a serious threat was forgotten. And dealing with Iraq and its terrorist allies was decried as an unnecessary war.

If efforts, both diplomatic and military, to deal with North Korea result in merely delaying all out war until the next president, and if that president happens to be a Republican, will we forget the threat we now acknowledge North Korea poses to the world? Will we call that conflict unnecessary? Or worse, will treating Kim Jong-un like a dumb kid actually encourage him to unleash nuclear war, just as he said he would?

diplomacy, foreign affairs, history, iraq, politics, saddam hussein, terrorism, war

Filed under: diplomacy, foreign affairs, history, iraq, politics, saddam hussein, terrorism, war

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