Monday, 2 January 2017

The Trouble With North Korea

So, Kim Jung Un is now planning to test a nuclear launch missile which could potentially reach the United States.   How did we get here?   I remember the days when the UN was inspecting sites in North Korea; you know, those days before the second war in Iraq.  North Korea asserted its rights to use nuclear power, and after a brief cat-and-mouse game, kicked the inspectors out of the country and re-opened their nuclear research facilities.

What did the UN do about it?  Oh, the usual... strongly denounced North Korea's actions, tabled sanctions, then sat impotently by as North Korea gleefully progressed its nuclear programme.  What did the United States do about it?  Not much.  They were too busy planning to invade Saddam Hussein in order to divest him of ... wait for it ... weapons of mass destruction.

There is something very wrong with your foreign policy if you ignore a country that's kicking out nuclear inspectors and openly restarting nuclear facilities, and attack the country that insists it has no weapons and is at least making a show of a last-minute attempt to cooperate with the international community.

All that is ancient history... except that it isn't.  The effects of those decisions, actions and distinct inaction from 14 years ago are still felt today, and may reverberate far into the future if nothing is done about it now.  What does one do about North Korea?  Dismiss and ignore the leader's statements?  Assume they're just rhetoric, politically motivated and only loosely based on facts? Charge in with military might and risk destabilizing the Korean Peninsula - again?

I think it's a very bad idea to keep standing by while a notoriously reclusive and potentially unstable regime gets its hands on long-range nuclear capabilities.  However, it's equally -if not more- dangerous to destabilize strong regional/national leadership and unwittingly unleash a flood of potentially disgruntled formerly suppressed militant groups upon the region and the world.  Perhaps it's time for a proper negotiation with North Korea which will ease economic sanctions in return for a cessation of nuclear activities.

I pray for wisdom for those who do have to make the decisions in today's perilous world.  May God help them, and us.

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