North Korea

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BadChoices.png
I sometimes call myself a radical centrist. It's not because I like playing devil's advocate for the sake of being argumentative, it's that many people see the world in extremes: their way or the wrong way. Thus when people are arguing a cartoon version of the world (the U.S. or a President is always wrong/right), I just want to point out that it's a lot more nuanced than that -- and usually they respond with a reductio ad absurdum response, "if you're not completely against X, then I must be for it" (or vise versa). I wish the world that was that simple, but it isn't. North Korea is the perfect example of that.

Sophies Choice

The same people that have been screaming that Donald Trump would turn us into a fascist State from the day he took office (round up all illegals, and start a war), and that think Russia hacked the election, are telling us that Kim Jong Un isn't crazy and if we just accept a world where he has thermonuclear weapons to extort the world, will be better than the alternative. He's just misunderstood.

NOTE: Please ignore that starving your own people, torturing and murdering them, and throwing them into prison camps (for multiple generations) if they disagree with you, isn't exactly rational. Nor is diverting resources that could be used to improve your country and the people to Nuclear Weapons programs, knowing that the cost will only be a world that will retaliate and punish you with trade sanctions for doing it.

But trust them this time, unlike their promises that Hillary would win, that Hitler would stop at Austria, that once Vietnam and Cambodia fell to the Communists, the region would know peace. This time, it will be different. Just close your eye's and trust that a nuclear capable North Korea, giving those nukes and technology to rogue states (like they did for Pakistan), will be bliss. All Kim Jong Un wants is a reunified Korea, under his rule. But once he has the protection of Nuclear Weapons, he'd never use conventional or Nuclear forces to get what he wants. And it certainly won't start an arms race with Japan, China and others in the region.

Of course the other side has little to offer.

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If he is a megalomaniac, and China and Russia don't care (they like his undermining of civility and our interests more than they dislike him), what are we going to do? They aren't thrilled with the nut-job, but he's a bigger threat to us than them, and denial is monopolized by the American left, it runs deep and across continents. What are we going to do?

Sanctions do nothing, since their entire Nuclear program was home grown. And we've had sanctions for 30 years, and they've done nothing but let Kim starve his people. Sanctions have never stopped a country determined on having the bomb, from getting them.

And direct action is worse. The choices are pretty much:

  1. Preemptive Nuke him and his country
  2. Preemptive Conventional War that won't slow his progress, justify any actions he does to him, his people, and those who hate America.

Since there's not much external trade, and we have radiation scanners at many ports, it's difficult for him to get a nuke aboard a conventional vessel and get it to the U.S. And the damage would still better than having him have ICBM's that can get to us. But it's hardly foolproof. You only have to screw up once -- and 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and dozens of other examples should serve as a warning, that anyone can get sucker punched.

And in a conventional war, he's going to be able to do years or decades of damage to Seoul. China's not hot on either choice -- us clearing him out, or him clearing us out. But even a conventional war likely means 100K dead. But that's better than millions or tens of millions as an alternative.

Whichever choice is made, you can be guaranteed, that CNN and others will be there, blaming it on Trump and his supporters.

Conclusion

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So this President inherited a cluster fuck, from the one before him. And the one before that. And so on.

This mess was magnified with Bill Clinton's appeasement,

Oct. 21, 1994
"This is a good deal for the United States... North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program."
President Bill Clinton

But of course Bill inherited the mess from Bush, Reagan, Carter, all the way back to Eisenhower. And of course Chamberlain or more likely all the people/places that said Hitler was quite reasonable, and would never use the Military he was creating to attack his neighbors. It was perfectly reasonable for him to want to be able to defend himself against the outsized powers around him. And Hitler was very reasoned.... right up until he wasn't. And by then, it was too late. Just like Castro, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, Tojo, Idi Amin, Ho Chi Minh, Mugabe, and so on.

So I don't know the right answer... but History sure hints and the wrong ones. Doing nothing is the wrong one. Heck, doing anything but stopping the megalomaniac is the wrong one. But so is starting a war based on what someone else might do.

References