Yikes! We may find ourselves at war with North Korea. Soon. Kim Jong-un has verbalized his intent to target four American cities with nukes. We are assured that we have a system of anti-missile missiles which will explode these nukes high above the Pacific Ocean. Even if we do manage to bat the nukes away as if we have our own personal superhero, we will probably have to go to war with North Korea. How can we ignore such a provocation?
I must admit that I am terrible at playing chicken. I think the game makes no sense. Either someone backs down, thus crushing his/her (usually his) tender ego or some terrible outcome becomes reality. We have been playing chicken in Washington for the past four and ¼ years and it has gotten old and we are ready for a new game. But at least our politicians have not been playing chicken with nukes.
Does Korea want to dominate the world, to be the new #1 nation? Well I would guess that they have to get in line. There are quite a few countries ahead of them and unless they all form a coalition (yikes10) North Korea seems least likely to gain most powerful nation status. Do they just want some respect? Do they want sanctions lifted? All they have to do to get those two things is to join the slew of nations who do not feel the need to surround themselves with seven veils of secrecy. All nations are, of course, somewhat secretive, but at least they don’t isolate themselves and wall themselves off from the nations who share this tiny (vulnerable) planet. Most countries maintain somewhat civil diplomatic relationships with others. Most countries use their words, not their nukes.
Unless Kim Jong-un and the North Koreans win world domination what positive outcomes do they see coming from an attack on the US (or even an attack on South Korea which will be like an attack on the US.) They apparently see themselves as a warrior nation with imperialistic plans. How can we defuse this escalating situation? How can we appeal to a nation that has hedged itself within such a powerful defensive stance that there are almost no opportunities to make a deal that is mutually beneficial, that will allow North Korea to stand-down their ego and will allow the rest of the world to share the wealth? How would the leader of North Korea ever back down now?
We seem to have the advantage militarily but we have not done so well in our recent wars. Observing this may be raising Kim Jong-un’s confidence level. But we had problems in Afghanistan and Iraq that we will not have in North Korea. We were at war with the leader or with one faction in those Middle Eastern nations, and yet not at war with the people of those nations. We were trying to keep civilian deaths to a minimum. We were also dealing, in each of these cases, with sects within these nations that were at war with each other. Complicated hatreds and alliances made sorting out issues more difficult. In North Korea this will not, I assume, be the case. Since the people of Korea seem to be firmly behind their leader, whether by choice or by duress, being at war with Kim Jong-un will mean being at war with the entire nation of Korea. We also take nukes off the table when we fight modern wars. North Korea is leading with their nukes and that means weapons of mass destruction are on the table, although I believe America will try to avoid using them unless given no alternative.
Whatever happens this is a sad state of affairs. It benefits no one. Not America, not North Korea, not the North Korean people and not the world. The truly manly thing to do would be to find a way to deal with the world that did not involve nuking it. There is still time. Take the bold approach that opens up your nation, frees your people from military endeavors so they can turn their zeal to living productive and happy lives with their families, and be the patriarch of a happy nation. You will probably be flooded with modern technology. It is inevitable. It is like a gas which spreads to all available empty space until equilibrium is reached. It is a mixed blessing and I can see why a nation might want to hold on to the traditional. However, I think we are highly unlikely to put this genie (or Pandora) back in the box. Don’t nuke us, join us. We will all try to keep the worst aspects of the high tech revolution at bay together.