04 January 2012

Another Needless Enemy

The US has hinted it will consider using tactical nuclear weapons against North Korea in the event of war. Nearly 30,000 US troops garrison South Korea; 70,000 more could swiftly intervene there along with powerful US naval and air units. Until recently, South Korea’s powerful armed forces were under command of a US four-star general. Even the Soviets weren’t so heavy-handed in the Warsaw Pact.
North Korea keeps asking the US to sign a non-aggression pact in which Washington pledges not to attack the North. The North’s modest nuclear program was created to deter a US attack by threatening a counter-strike on US bases in South Korea, Japan and Okinawa.
Many South Korean strategists (conservatives excepted) and their Japanese counterparts downplay the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Washington has long refused such a non-aggression pact. Instead, it has ringed North Korea with military forces and imposed a punishing trade embargo that has played a major role in keeping the North in dire poverty. Call the North an Asian Cuba.

I simply do not understand this imperialist, war-mongering mindset.  Not with Iran, not with North Korea.

I understand that the federal government should defend its citizens from foreign threats, and so the government must have an army.  I understand that the army will need some serious defensive hardware to do its job.  But what I don’t understand is why federal foreign policy is so antagonistic.

Imagine this scenario:  you have a neighbor who loves guns and explosives, and is constantly stocking up on guns, ammunition, and explosives.  He also makes a point of coming over to tell you that he doesn’t trust, that he’s got his eye on you, and he doesn’t want anything to do with you (and don’t you dare think about coming on his property!).  What do you do?  If you have half a brain and lots of money, you move.  If you have half a brain but little money, you buy a gun and some ammo, and maybe a security system of sorts.  After all, you don’t want to be unprepared if this guy turns out to be a lunatic who decides one day to attack you.

This is basically the scenario that North Korea faces.  They have a crazy “neighbor” called the United States, and it keeps telling them that it doesn’t trust them, and that it doesn’t want anything to do with them, and it has lots of weapons to boot.  How should North Korea react?  Assuming it doesn’t want to be a sock puppet for the United States, North Korea should get some weapons of its own.  This is a natural, logical reaction to what appears to be insanity from the United States.

This is not to say that the United States shouldn’t be suspicious of North Korea, as the leaders of that country are quite capable of acting in bad faith and doing something insane.  However, being distrustful of a country doesn’t justify being so antagonistic.  Furthermore, distrust coupled with antagonism has a strong tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As such, the United States’ antagonistic behavior has the potential to blow up quite nastily.  The sad thing is that this is unnecessary, and likely avoidable.  Perhaps, then, it is time to rethink Teddy Roosevelt’s foreign policy.  Maybe it’s time to try something along the lines of “carry a big stick, but mind your own business.”  That seems like it would work better.


  1. Washington has long refused such a non-aggression pact. Instead, it has ringed North Korea with military forces

    Not even close. NK is open on three sides. US forces only hold them in on the DMZ. And US military forces there have been decreasing for decades. But we can't have a non-agression pact with them because we still don't have a peace treaty. We are technically still at war with North Korea. NK won't declare peace with SK, so we can't either. This is their choice, not ours.

    ...and imposed a punishing trade embargo that has played a major role in keeping the North in dire poverty

    Also not true. Most of the nations of the world ignore America's trade embargo with NK. Their only excuse for dire poverty is communism. They don't trade because they produce very little of anythig that the rest of the world wants. The do have several agreements with SK and China for trade.

  2. @Prof. Hale- First, when did the united states' congress declare war with NK? Second, there is noting precluding us from ending the war and signing the pact. Taking the initiative in this matter is certainly possible, and well within our power. Given how the united states' antagonistic policies have played out over the past several decades, it may be a good idea to give peace a chance.

    Re: your assertions on the trade embargo, I would like you to provide evidence of them. A link to a direct or indirect source is preferred. If you are drawing on your personal knowledge, please explain why it should be trusted.

    Also, please note that second second excerpt you quoted says "played a major role in keeping..." It does not assert the initial cause of the poverty, nor does it preclude other factors from preserving poverty. It only states that an absence of foreign trade is one factor contributing to their poverty.

    Finally, would you say that the united states' attempt to impose an embargo is antagonistic? If it is, do you suppose that this might cause NK to be more inclined to attack the US, less inclined to attack the US, or play no role in their inclinations to attack the US? If you believe that this attempted trade embargo is antagonistic, and that this will make NK more inclined to attack the US, does it not stand to reason that discontinuing the attempted trade embargo would improve US relations with NK?

  3. @Prof. Hale- Because I said so. If you don't want to, that's fine. Just refrain from commenting on this thread. I have no issue with disagreement, nor with people claiming my facts are wrong. I've made mistakes before; I will likely make them again. However, I am simply not the sort to make someone's arguments for them, nor am I the sort to do someone else's research for them. If that's a failing, so be it. In the meantime, I'll reiterate my request: please provide proof of your assertion, per the terms mentioned in the prior comment.

  4. I types a much longer response with evidence and links. But it is gone. please check your spam folder.

  5. It's not in my spam folder, sorry. I've had some of my comments eaten in the past, and I was hoping Blogger had finally gotten beyond these stupid glitches, but I guess not. If you feel like resubmitting it, that would be great. However, I would be happy with just links or a brief summary of your personal experience on the matter. If I recall correctly, you work in the DOD, so I assume you have some knowledge of these things. I'd just like to ascertain what that entails.

    Anyway, I'm sorry that Blogger is being uncooperative about this, and thanks for your willingness to support your claims.

  6. Also, has it been easier for you to comment here since I've switched comment forms?