By no means am I one of those American ‘neo-conservatives’ who’d liberate every tin-pot dictatorship at gunpoint. If some people or other wants to languish under authoritarianism (as the Russians, for instance, seem inclined to do), that’s none of my business. Assuming good digestion, I’d simply echo Russell Kirk, who advised the neocons that
To impose the American constitution upon all the world would not render all the world happy; to the contrary, our constitution would work in few lands and would make men miserable in short order. States, like men, must find their own paths to justice and order and freedom; and usually those paths are ancient and winding ways, and their signposts are Authority, Tradition, Prescription.
But my digestion is seldom anything but atrocious, and so I follow the same principle but with different sentiment: we fought and died for our freedoms; they can fight and die for theirs, too. Even if we hand it to them on a silver platter, they don’t know what to do with it. Look at how quickly Karzai’s Afghanistan went to sh*t.
So when I say, ‘Let’s bomb the crap out of North Korea,’ it’s not because I think the North Korean people will benefit from it. I don’t know that they will, nor do I care. Maybe, in the chaos that ensues from the fall of Dear Leader, they’d summon the courage to overthrow the whole commie establishment and reunify the peninsula on the South’s terms. That would be smashing. Or maybe some Napoleon-like figure will emerge from the military and prove infinitely more repressive than the Ancien regime, and the North’s absolute monarchy under the Kim dynasty look like Thatcher’s Britain. If so, oh well. That’s their problem, not ours – because it has to be their solution, not ours.
Still, let’s bomb the crap out of North Korea. Level every government and military complex in the country. Their sabre-rattling is getting obnoxious. If some chubby, deranged man-baby in a pinstripe Mao suit fires missiles at us – even if they’re completely impotent – wipe them off the face of the earth.
That’s what you might call a sane and reasonable use of force, which stands in marked contrast to our usual foreign-policy adventurism. The West, as the hub of the world’s military superpowers, has an obligation to make clear exactly what our criteria for military intervention are. Yet for all the ‘wars of democracy’ and ‘pre-emptive strikes’, North Korea – a far more repressive and belligerent power than any we’ve attacked since Nazi Germany – has gotten off scot-free. We deposed Saddam for maybe-not-really having nuclear weapons and waged a futile war against Assad for imprisoning a few thousand dissidents… yet three generations of the Kim family have come and gone without incident. How does that make sense?
So let’s do what we should’ve done sixty years ago: wipe the Kims off the face of the earth and dare whoever replaces them to even look at us the wrong way. If the North Korean people are smart, they’ll beg South Korea to take them over and usher them into the 21st century. If they’re still desperate to cling to the legacy of the Cold War, at least China will be there to supply an emergent market economy with red aesthetics. But if seven decades of propaganda is so ingrained they can’t part with the whole Juche thing – if they choose to bow to yet another clan of hedonistic, perverted warlords – that’s their prerogative. The point is that, whatever their decision, it should pose no threat to us. That’s all we can reasonably expect from other sovereign nations, and it’s all we should allow them to demand from us.
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