Thursday, May 28, 2009

NK: lessons of war and peace

So as things seem to go from bad to worse on the Korean peninsula following North Korea's apparent nuclear test on Monday, the threat of military action is looming larger, driven both by the wild belligerence of the North Koreans, and foreign policy critics who insist that more sanctions against the 'Hermit Kingdom' are just a waste of time.

On Wednesday a North Korean official said that their country was no longer bound by the armistice that stopped the Korean War in 1953, after the United States and South Korea announced plans to search ships bound for the North that they suspected could be carrying material for their nuclear weapons or ballistic missile programs. At the same time, commentators - many from the neoconservative school of international relations - are popping up on TV urging Pres. Obama to take a 'harder line' (i.e. military action) against North Korea.

But's Danger Room blog notes that not only would winning a war against North Korea be a long, brutal process, but also that winning the eventual peace would make Afghanistan and Iraq look like a walk in the park by comparison. Keep in mind that North Korea already has millions of people on the brink of starvation, a situation that would become far worse after a war. And North Korea is the world's only Stalinist state - its citizens have suffered under a brutally oppressive regime for six decades, one that dealt with any opposition, real or imagined, by sending the offender to a labor camp (or just shooting them), making North Korea not very fertile ground for a quick switch to democracy.

So while diplomacy with North Korea may seem like a pointless exercise, going to war doesn't seem like a viable option either.
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