Except that we already pretty much all knew about them. And there wasn’t really anything anyone could do before, so what will really change here? The United Nations? Is anyone really delusional enough to think that this organization which is currently unable to do anything about the mass murder still ongoing in Sudan can do anything about North Korea? It’s not as though a UN threat of sanctions would be too scary to a country already suffering mass starvation. Or that anyone really believes anyone – US or otherwise – would use a military option. In short, a nuclear North Korea is pretty much a fait accompli, because the rest of the world has no options.
Damian thinks the only option for North Korea has to come from within:
Ultimately, the only ways Kim will be removed from power are a potentially catastrophic outside invasion, or an uprising from within. The former is a non-starter; the latter could work. From here on out, we should redouble our efforts to support those brave North Koreans who oppose their government, and to get news and information to the most hermetically sealed society on earth.
Unfortunately, I have to disagree with Damian on this one, for a few reasons:
1) North Korea has no real viable, organized opposition of any form; it’s the world’s least free and most oppressive regime, where opposition is systematically stamped out in its infancy.
2) North Korea is also desperately poor, has no real economy, no rule of law, no independent institutions… in short, it’s much, much worse than even Iraq. We mustn’t assume that the removal of Kim Jong-Il would liberate a country just waiting for the opportunity to instill a flourishing democracy. There is no indication that the removal of the dictatorship would leave anything but total chaos and anarchy. And a situation where chaotic anarchy meets nuclear weapons might be the only thing scarier than the current situation. At least we KNOW which crazy guy has his finger on the button now. What will happen when it’s a free-for-all?
The question we should be asking is, why now? Granted, Kim Jong-Il is crazy, but by some accounts he’s also crazy like a fox. This test was an in-your-face to the West, an in-your-face to the United Nations, and an in-your-face to Bush. And its timing was no coincidence. Given the geopolitical factors in the rest of the world, namely the mess in Iraq and Iran’s ongoing game of nuclear chicken with the U.N., Kim Jong-Il probably decided the time was ripe to flex his muscle a little bit.
But does this mean we’re on the verge of nuclear disaster? That depends on your perspective. The worry about Iran going nuclear is that Ahmadinejad might be crazy enough to actually not care about the consequences of launching a nuclear strike, so deep is his hatred for Israel and the West. Is the same true of Kim Jong-Il? Or is North Korea just trying to prove a point?
These are questions that were always hard to answer about nuclear weapons, but if we think this is the worst of it, then we’re kidding ourselves. To date, nuclear weapons have only ever been in the hands of countries, ranging from democracies to despotic dictatorships with crazy leaders, but all countries nonetheless. It’s only a matter of time until a terrorist group or rogue organization gets ahold of nuclear weapons. What then? What happens when there are no diplomatic options to even attempt?
We’d better start thinking about it, and soon, because if you think that this week is scary, I fear we ain’t seen nothing yet.
My solution? Send in our ultimate weapons: Trey Parker and Matt Stone.