Monday, January 11, 2016

LOL, war against North Korea is a really terrible idea

Suki Kim, an aspiring foreign policy analyst with a bachelor's degree in English, thinks that we should go to war against North Korea:
If negotiations and sanctions do not work, then all we can do is to continue paying North Korea off with an aid package to keep it contained until the next threat, which might or might not be the real hydrogen bomb..I often think that is what the...six-party talks were really about - to ensure that North Korea never collapses, no matter what the cost.
This would all be logical, if not utterly inhumane, if North Korea weren’t a nuclear force with a potential hydrogen bomb in its possession, holding hostage 25 million human beings. Then what are our options?
One of the interesting points here is that Kim never actually challenges the effectiveness of "paying North Korea off" as a containment strategy. It is clearly the preference of the international community, it has so far absolutely succeeded in preventing any nuclear attacks, and Kim gives us no new reason to expect it to fail.

So why change our approach? Everyone already gets that North Korea is extorting aid from the rest of the world, that it is riddled with human rights abuses, and that its nuclear weapons, in an extraordinarily unlikely nightmare scenario, could find their way into the hands of a rogue terrorist. Having considered these problems in the past, we've generally conclude that they're ultimately outweighed by the massive suffering and chaos that war would certainly inflict on the region.

Kim dramatically misunderstands the history of diplomatic and public opinion on North Korea when she asks "Why does no one ever talk about the obvious solution of an intervention?" - as if this approach has not been repeatedly considered, and duly rejected. All of the dangers she invokes were already well understood a decade ago, when we were already making popular movies with puppets ridiculing this sort of warmongering. At the very most, Kim's game-changer revelations just affirm everything we already knew.