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It's a small world after all...

I have come to the reluctant conclusion that in international relations, a certain separation from reality bordering on insanity is required. And in some cases, it's very, very easy to slip across the line from separation from reality into true insanity.

Witness North Korea. They have a remarkably simple approach to foreign policy: whatever they do that others don't like, it's either no one else's goddamned business or a justifiable act of self-defense. Whatever anyone else does they don't like is an act of war. It's supreme narcissism: I want it my way right now, and whatever you want doesn't matter. It may work fine in certain cases, such as when the demanding party is in a position of absolute power, but otherwise it is pretty much doomed to failure.

Kim Jong-Il is used to getting his own way within the walls of his prison nation. He is the warden, the supreme power, the only true "decider," and whatever he says goes -- or whoever questions him goes. He's trying to export that philosophy, to demand that the rest of the world bow and scrape before his will as he has come to expect from his own captive citizenry.

It is that mentality that leads him to declare that he, of all the nations in the world, can freely test-fire his missiles into international airspace and waters, even across other nations' borders, without a by-your-leave or a courtesy "this is only a test" announcement. And if anyone should happen to challenge -- nay, even question -- that belief, then that is not only an affront to Kim Jong-Il, but to the nation of North Korea itself (for, after all, "l'etat, c'est moi,"), and an assault on the very reality on which the nation is based. It could be no less than an act of war.

As I said, such an attitude is fine -- if one has the means to enforce it. "It ain't bragging if you can do it." And Kim Jong-Il believes that his nuclear weapons (or, at least, the world's uncertainty as to whether he possesses them or not) give him the leverage to back up that demand.

It may be time to remind him of a few facts that might have an untoward effect on his beliefs:

1) The nation he is threatening is the one that invented nuclear weapons.

2) It is also the only nation to ever use those weapons in anger.

3) He has, at most, a handful of nuclear weapons, and we are a very, very big nation.

4) We have a hell of a lot more of them, the ability to deliver them to any spot in the world, and he has a very small nation.

5) Our national resolve is largely dependent on the occupant of the White House.

6) The current occupant of the White House has already invaded and overthrown two governments who pissed us off.

One of the side effects of the tremendous, almost incomprehensible, increases in technology in general and telecommunications in particular is to make the world smaller. "Halfway around the world" is, in many cases, utterly irrelevant. In my own case, I "work" with a half-dozen people on Wizbang, and we're scattered across the east half of the country (and that is purely coincidental; they could be literally anywhere.) I have two blog-friends who live in Texas and Costa Rica respectively, and I get along better with them than I do with some of the people in my own apartment building, whom I see on a daily basis.

North Korea has chosen to separate itself from the community of nations. They have, in effect, built a big wall around their home and issue dire imprecations to any of the neighbors who think of "interfering" with what they do there. As a man's home is his castle (Kelo notwithstanding), that's fine and well within his rights.

But behind those walls, Kim Jong-Il is building bombs -- bombs big enough to cause carnage and mayhem far beyond his walls' ability to withstand. He's also playing with big fireworks, the type that could easily burn down his neighbors' homes. And amidst it all, he's insisting that anyone who tries to get him to stop -- even by asking nicely, or simply loudly -- will be treated as an intruder, an invader, a trespasser, and shot on sight.

Kim Jong-Il needs to be reminded that while he may not be a part of the community, he is still among one. North Korea, like it or not, is a part of the Earth, not located on the moon. (Which, if it were the case, would make life much simpler -- we could simply let FrankJ settle the matter for us.

It's got to the point where someone has to go over to Kim's house, knock REAL LOUD on that fence, and inform him to knock it off. It's gonna take the biggest, strongest guy in the neighborhood to do that, and that, quite frankly, is the US. And soon, because the longer we wait, the more unpleasant the conversation will be.

It is my understanding that Tomahawk cruise missiles make excellent door-knockers...

(Yes, I am aware that China is the unmentioned element in this equation. I'll address that part at a later date.)


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Comments (22)

Isn't this what "Speak Trut... (Below threshold)

Isn't this what "Speak Truth to Power" actually means? It's not exactly how the hand-wringers on the left use it, but it'll do. We've got a little diplomacy dance to finish up, but it's probably not unreasonable to expect that this is how things might turn out, as unfortunate as it would be. You can only reason with reasonable people. Ignore the hard reality or not. It's 1938.

It's pretty predictable that the left will start shrieking and wailing any second, as they do any time there is anything scary sounding on the table.

And I suppose we'll need a 400 post thread to earnestly discuss the poor North Korean children, just like those poor Palestinean children. Got disk space? Got Kleenex? Got time on your hands?

And now, with no further ado, I'd like you to give another warm round of applause for Lee. Take it, Lee...you're on.

Unfortunately, the current ... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately, the current occupant of the White House no longer can credibly threaten military action (against North Korea or Iran). He is so emotionally committed to 'staying the course' in Iraq that he views anything and everything else as a distraction. On top of that, I believe (armchair and amateur psychiatric analysis) that he's been so battered by what has happened in Iraq (the body count, the mission not going as easy as hoped for, the vitriolic attacks on him from the left) that he couldn't bring himself to order the US military into action anywhere else.

And while Bush did order troops into Iraq, the situation with North Korea is different and the North Koreans know we know it is different. Hussein had limited ability to lash out at his neighbors; he couldn't (or perhaps, wouldn't) put enough pressure on them for them to oppose the US. No such luck with North Korea. He can cause problems for both China, by opening the borders and letting a million or so North Koreans flood into China (why a million more people in China would present a problem for the Chinese, I don't know, but it sure isn't something they want. Witness their opposition to Japan's demanding sanctions against North Korea), and for South Korea, by doing some serious military damage to Seoul and other metropolitan areas.

So... when the US comes knocking on North Korea's door... why should the guy behind the door think it's anything more than an irritant?

It's a crying shame that no... (Below threshold)

It's a crying shame that no one else will knock on his door. They're all too busy either groveling, hiding or defending him.

We don't have to commit troops there anyway. We can simply take out his launch pads. No message necessary.

Steve: I would think a million NK refugees in China would cause a real problem for them while they're trying to look good hosting the Olympics.

Bullfrog:I don't b... (Below threshold)


I don't believe it's so much that Bush won't order military action because he's so emotionally invested in Iraq. I think it has FAR more to do with the state the military is in. I was in the US Navy during the Clinton years, and I can vouch for the sad state of affairs the military was in when Bush 2 came into office. It's been 6 years since he took office, and the military just hasn't been able to recover yet to pre-Clinton levels.

He won't order military action against North Korea because the Military just can't support ANOTHER open theater of operations (Afghanistan and Iraq being the other 2).

Just my $0.02

The reason military action ... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

The reason military action hasn't been ordered against NK is the 5000 tubes of artillery Kim Jong Il has pointed at the city of Seoul, South Korea.

Within three hours of any strike we make, Seoul will be a rubble pile, so...

After the failure of the mi... (Below threshold)

After the failure of the missile tests, Kim Jong Il invited his chief rocket scientist to have a short discussion....

Quite frankly, Kim is used ... (Below threshold)

Quite frankly, Kim is used to everyone kissing his fat ass. And the world community will continue to do so as none has the political will to face up to him.

He's violated every prior agreement he's made,
continues to counterfiet US currency, and to sell weapons to terrorists. Why should he quit, he's on top.

It's odd that two of Clinton's people are now arguing to bomb North Korean missle sites. The same people who gave him nuclear capability.

The world dithers and we'll pay a higher price at some future time.

The Clinton "dont worry, be... (Below threshold)
sammy small:

The Clinton "dont worry, be happy" approach to N. Korea has put us where we are at today. Kim has raised the gradient with no pushback. It leaves virtually no alternative to using nuclear weapons if it comes to a fight. Kim is just a lot stronger and confident than 10 years ago.

The state of ground forces in Iraq makes little difference. There will be no ground invasion of the North if we decide to act. N. Korea has dug in within the mountainous terrain across from the DMZ and elsewhere. We will need nukes to take them out. This was in the plans for a long time, based upon an invasion from the North. Its still the only way.

Too bad congress cut off funding for nuclear bunker busters. They would be good for use in N. Korea. The use of tactical nukes will leave things a mess. But that is where things are. Seoul will be enveloped one way or another. There isn't much of a way around it.

I'm not sure nuclear weapon... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure nuclear weapons are an option for us anymore with any country. If we ever launched a nuke into another country, the world would be horrified and we would be considered demons from Hell. Even if a country like N Korea attacked us first, the world would ask us why our missle defense system failed, and why didn't we negociate after being nuked. Sad but true. Another situation we aren't aware of is that a draft could never take place in this country again. The selective service has been undermined by political correctness and nobody knows it. Just ask yourself this. Is it fair to just ask one certain segment of the population to pick up arms? After all the rights women have fought for, will they draft women now? What about the don't ask, don't tell policy. Will gays that are openly out of the closet be drafted? What about illegal aliens? Even if they get amnesty, will they be required while they're on a "path towards citizenship" and not full citizens?

As mentioned above, this cr... (Below threshold)
Totally Matt:

As mentioned above, this creep can kill tens of millions of South Koreans with conventional artillery loaded with chemical weapons. We can't take out tens of thousands of artillery pieces with cruise missiles, or with guided bombs. The threat he poses to the U.S. is real, but giving him an excuse to unleash violence in the region is irresponsible. If anyone wants to make the case that S. Korean lives are less important than American lives, and thus we should take out his missiles and consequences be damned, I don't think you'll be very successful.

Work with allied Asian intelligence to figure out which of his underlings can be bought; buy them; and capture Kim Jong-Il and put him in a circus. It'll be so easy to make nice with the new regime in N. Korea after that, for the good of American/S. Korean security and the betterment of the N. Korean people. And if it doesn't work, go back to crazy-talkin' and saber-rattlin'. Time is on our side, 'cause I don't think he's going to preemptively attack anybody. He wants to assert himself, not give anyone an excuse to fire missiles into Pyongyang.

Totally Matt, you're thinki... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Totally Matt, you're thinking like a white boy. What would work on anyone else isn't going to work on Kim Jong-Il's cult of power... They have it good and have no reason to try to seize power from him. Kimmy boi goes to great lengths to ensure that those close to him are absolutely loyal.

You MIGHT do a bit of research and find out just how extensive the North Korean indoctrination programs go.

I know he's a megalomaniac,... (Below threshold)
Totally Matt:

I know he's a megalomaniac, and the sort of guy to lock up or shoot anyone he suspects of disloyalty. Still, the preemptive option isn't even on the table for reasons given. You might find a few people in the Administration who think it's acceptable to risk the lives of everyone in S. Korea to prevent L'il Kim from shooting missiles, but I'm confident that they will get shouted down by people who still have a future in government (like Condi).

As I said previously, Kim h... (Below threshold)

As I said previously, Kim has not lived up to one agreement that he's made.

Personally, I think he needs the Kadafy treatment.

We no longer talk to him, we tell him. You launch one more missle, forge one more $100 bill and you'll assume room temperature.

If he puts an ICBM on a launch pad, we let him load it with fuel, then take it out.

My bet is that he'll crap in his pants. He has a 1 million man army that he can barely feed, much less the rest of the N Korean population.

There are only so many roads into S Korea and all have been targeted for years. Massing artillery no longer makes sense, unless you want it all taken out at one time.

Were there a war in Korea today, it would be very short and very bloody for the N Koreans. Neither the Chinese or Russians are going to come to their aid and they know it.

The only thing stopping any action right now, is the 50% who don't want to rattle his cage. And that's the same 50% who will be pissing in their pants when he gets his ICBM problems ironed out.

Garandfan,His arti... (Below threshold)
Totally Matt:


His artillery can hit Seoul. Everyone I know who lives (or lived) there (lots of my friends taught English there for a summer or a year after graduating) say that it's kind of surreal knowing that a petulant psycho could end all of their lives if the mood strikes him. Lots of people have gas masks, but very few people carry them around while doing their daily business. I don't know what your remark about the roads is supposed to do; some conventional artillery pieces can fire hundreds of kilometres, with pretty good accuracy. I'm sure it's "massed", but I doubt anyone knows where it all is, and all he needs to do is land a few hundred chemical rounds in a densely populated.

The war would be bloody for the North Koreans? I don't know what army you plan on invading with. And your assertion that his artillery doesn't pose a threat to S. Korean civilians is unfounded. You don't work at the DoD, and that's a good thing.

Totally Matt, Seoul is in ... (Below threshold)
smmy small:

Totally Matt, Seoul is in no different situation today than it was 30 years ago when the Norks attacked US and S. Korean personnel at Panmunjom. They backed down in 76. We had aircraft loaded and ready to hit targets circling in Area P-518 the day the trees were cut down, just waiting for more provocation. They talk big but don't normally have the guts to act.

If the North decides to attack the South, they will certainly do damage to Seoul, but won't do much more. That's when a well placed nuke can take out the entire Chorwon corridor, with whatever quantity of the million man army tries to rush through. That's been a plan for as long as I can remember.

Totally Matt, and others:</... (Below threshold)

Totally Matt, and others:

Some of you also forget that the US has a dedent number of troops stationed in South Korea, and that South Korea has a pretty darned good standing army of it's own.

I think they can put up enough of a fight (along with all the support they would quickly recieve from forces stationed in the area) to drag out a new Korean War more than the first artillery salvo/initial exchange.

Who was in charge of N. Kor... (Below threshold)
Totally Matt:

Who was in charge of N. Korea in 1976, smmy small?

Talking about using nuclear weapons to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is very discouraging. If possible we should kill zero N. Korean soldiers, so they can do the swords-to-ploughshares thing once the veil is lifted from their nation and we help them figure out what needs to be done to bring them into the 21st century. I'm not convinced that a bloodless coup is out of the range of possibility.

And for an American to glibly state that they will "do damage to Seoul but not much more"... :

With a population of eleven million people living within its city limits, Seoul is one of the most populous cities in the world. However, with an area of only 607 square kilometres, it is also one of the smallest and most densely populated major cities. -Wikipedia

Chemical weapons + Seoul = we need a more creative solution than preemptively striking his missile silos.

ExSubNuke, the American mil... (Below threshold)
Totally Matt:

ExSubNuke, the American military stationed there and the excellent S. Korean forces would defeat them handily. And the S. Koreans would definitely attack, after a few million of their civilians died in a poison gas attack. Unacceptable.

Creative solutions, please.

Totally Matt, Nothing has ... (Below threshold)
sammy small:

Totally Matt, Nothing has chanaged in the "philosophy" of North Korean regime since Kim's daddy Kim il Sung was in charge. Their military is brutal, confrontational, and could care less what the Western powers think. That said, they haven't been prone to follow up on their bluster in the past. Their populace cowers in primitive isolation. Its all about power and control by the ruling party.

The U.S. and South Korea made its bed in 1953 when they agreed to the armistice and followed a path of defensive deployment in the South. The advent of North Korean medium and long range missiles along with nukes has altered the old paradigm.

Seoul grew up believing in the old paradigm. Short of a total missile shield, there is nothing that can be done by the South to save Seoul if it comes to a war. Sorry but that is the facts. I think our response to such an attack, however, will quickly move things the other way.

I understand you prefer to think in terms of dialog and negotiations to bring the North into the mainstream world. That's a real challenge considering the regime will have to be talked out of the absolute power they now hold. Pretty unlikely. But it certainly gives them the time to continue working on weapons and missile production, sales, and destabilization of the remainder of the world. I suppose a blockade could help. But they consider that an act of war. Which of course leads right back to a possible attack of some sort by the North. So, you might as well start considering it. Its just a matter of time in my book.

p.s. I spent a year at Kunsan preparing for whatever happened. It can get real ugly.

To kill a snake, you cut of... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

To kill a snake, you cut off its head.

Maybe we should dig up Nevi... (Below threshold)

Maybe we should dig up Neville Chamberlain and have him talk with Kim.

All you need to understand ... (Below threshold)

All you need to understand Totally Matt is his own words,

"Talking about using nuclear weapons to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is very discouraging.

If possible we should kill zero N. Korean soldiers, so they can do the swords-to-ploughshares thing once the veil is lifted from their nation and we help them figure out what needs to be done to bring them into the 21st century.

I'm not convinced that a bloodless coup is out of the range of possibility."

After all it works in the movies...

Listen to the little boy who never grew up, "you mean people have to die?"






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