How do you solve a problem like North Korea?
How do you get a hot head to cool down?
How do we find the words that mean Kim Jong Il?
A mad maniac and intellectual clown.
Many a thing we've already told him.
But never does he respond like he understands.
For no matter what we do,
He keeps enriching the Big U.
How do we keep him from turning Seoul to sand?
How do we solve a problem like North Korea?
How should we hold our future in our hands?
Our view is that a rogue leader is on the loose in North Korea. So on one hand, we feel the need to step on him in order to secure the situation. But on the other hand, we are afraid of taking the first steps to stop him because he has toys of deterrence. He could easily destroy Seoul with his artillery and nuclear arsenal and he would still have enough nuclear weapons to cause havoc elsewhere. Certainly we could squash him if he were to do so, but that would come at too high a price. So for now, we are stuck with walking on egg shells even as his North Korean freighters sail around the world, possibly sharing what they have discovered.
But such is our perspective. What is North Korea's and President Kim Jong Il's view of the situation? If we knew, maybe North Korea's leader would not seem like such a dangerous loose cannon. North Korea, and some other countries, might feel like they are being refused membership into an exclusive country club because of discrimination. Such membership is coveted because of the prestige and power that comes with belonging. In addition, membership could improve business opportunities. So considering President Kim's and North Korea's background, membership must be obtained -- and indeed, they have obtained it. North Korea is a member of the WMD Country Club. And now that Kim Jong Il is a member, he wants to act like one.
How do some of the current WMD Country Club members act? If you remember the last couple of years, Russian military leaders and Putin made explicit threats to countries bordering Russia that if they accepted American BMD bases, they could face possible attacks with tactical nuclear weapons.
But of course that is just one member of the WMD Country Club acting out. Certainly no one else would do that. Except in 1996, Secretary of Defense William Perry and one of his assistants, Dr Harold Smith, threatened the possible use of a tactical bunker busting bomb on a Libyan underground weapons facility. And, earlier in the US dispute with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program, the Bush Administration implied the first use of nuclear weapons by stating that all options were being considered.
Even though nuclear threats might sound nicer to us when we say them than when a tyrant like Kim Jong Il does, there is no real difference in who says it. And that is the point to consider when determining how our country should respond to North Korea's well-armed belligerency; we are not only attempting to resolve a current crisis; we are setting parameters for future conflicts.
This is why Bush's unilateral decision to execute the sentence of invasion on Iraq in 2003 was so shortsighted. President Bush was only considering the immediate impact of his actions. He deliberately ignored the intelligence given to him regarding predicted increases in world terrorism and seemed unaware that he was setting a precedent for other countries. A clear example of another country following the precedent set by Bush was when Russia invaded Georgia.
So, regardless of how we settle the dispute with North Korea, we must realize that we are also setting up the future in two ways. First, we will be providing motivation for others, particularly those who feel any degree of solidarity with North Korea, to respond. An overly harsh or apparent immoral response on our part, like our invasion of Iraq, could very well motivate either North Korea or others to retaliate. That retaliation may not come right away but it becomes a realistic possibility.
Second, we are setting a precedent, an example, for others to follow. This might sound like a great opportunity to create a brighter future except for the fact that the US is still committed, even under the new management, to practice American Exceptionalism. So our behavior becomes a model for those who either want to displace us as the king of the hill or who, because they believe they are equal to us, want to imitate our actions -- just as North Korea has imitated our possessions of nuclear weapons. The US response of course would be an outrage by those who do not recognize our right to rule others. The world, however, will only express disgust at our arrogance to assume that we have that right to dominate.
Obviously, there is no easy answer to the question, how do you solve a problem like North Korea? Perhaps we might see that part of the problem is that we are being imitated to a degree. And perhaps that realization might help us forge a successful resolution for now and the future.