June 28, 2005

North Korea: Game of Chance

Stalinists regimes with dictators that are self centered don't fare well in terms of overall stability. The longer such a regime is in place, the more likely it is to fall. The chance of it's fall being peaceful decreases with the size and loyalty of the military forces controlled by the dictator.

The problem with North Korea is that it's army is the 4th largest (and possibly 4th strongest) in the world, and because Kim Jong Il values the military and sciences more than almost every other aspect of government, he commands the loyalty of his troops, as much of the government funding goes to them. This presents a problem. With a stable army behind him and a populace too afraid and weak to fight back, along with a growing nuclear program, North Korea has long since become the threat that everybody must face.

The United States is forced to seriously consider military action against the North Koreans. Even though they have a budding nuclear program, appeasement won't work. In the best case scenario, North Korea negotiates to keep its nukes. In the worst case scenario, appeasement fails, the nuclear program expands, and soon we'll be faced with the possibility of Seattle becoming "Nuclear Wasteland #1".

The way to go about this is simple: promise no harm if the nukes are all completely removed and UN inspectors allowed to verify that. However, at the same time, remind them that they're also human, and subject to the same problems that a nuclear attack would do to them. Be forceful, but give them a way out. Make war a forgone conclusion unless they cooperate. Show your entire military strength. Make them afraid of war first, and then be ready to declare it.

North Korea will not be dealt with by simple appeasement policies or talks. North Korea is playing an arms game with weapons. If you want to end its threat to the world, play their game. At this point, the cost of not playing only gets bigger and bigger.

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